That was the topic for an essay that I had to write in English a couple of weeks ago.  I do not normally post my scholastic work here, but this was a topic that I felt pretty strongly about.  So, for your enjoyment (or non):

As a journalism major, the question of how well does the media inform is an important one; I know that I want to do a good job disseminating the information needed for an informed public.  As a member of that public, I think that the onus lies with me to make sure that I am receiving the information that I need from the media.  It is my responsibility to choose another source if the main source of media is not providing me with the information I need to be informed about the world and decisions I need to make in that world.
           A lot of blame is placed on the media, or more accurately what is described as the “main-stream media,” that not enough is done to provide information or cover stories that enrich and inform the public.  Given the amount of blame placed on the media one may almost deduce that this lack of coverage is on purpose.  Most journalists cover only one or two beats and certainly give the attention due their assigned beats.  Unfortunately, there is only so much time in television or radio broadcast, there are only some many column inches in a newspaper and editors have to make decisions about what fits and what gets cut.  Is this done intentionally?  I think not.  There are probably millions of pages in reporter’s notebooks around the world that we will never hear about simply because of a lack of time or space.  To compensate for this, it is important to choose your media sources wisely to get a complete picture.
            I take the approach of informing myself through the media as I would any other product that I consume.  That is after all, what we are: consumers of the media.  When I go to a store to purchase tangible goods, there are several factors that I consider before making a purchase.  How much money do I have to spend on this item?  How long do I need this item to last for, long-term big ticket item or short-term throw away?  Is this item simply for entertainment value?  And the list continues, but a similar set of questions should be asked before consuming media.  How much time can I devote to this topic?  Is this topic very important to me or not as important to me?  How soon do I need information about this topic?  Is this simply for entertainment?  As I ask those questions it is then that I realize which type of media I should turn to to be informed.  If I am limited on time I may turn to the radio for a quick news update on the top stories, if I have more time a whole newscast on television or an in-depth radio program may be more appropriate and if I have a lot of time I may sit down and read an long story in the newspaper.  If the topic is of supreme importance to me I may do my own independent research using the internet or other sources, if a topic is not of much interest to me the thirty second blurbs on the TV or radio were probably enough.  If I need information immediately about something that happened locally I will probably tune my radio dial to a twenty-hour news station rather than tuning my TV to MSNBC or CNN and expecting the local story to be on immediately.  Making educated choices as a consumer is how the decision to use which media when should be made.
            The question is probably better phrased: how well am I informing myself using the media?  One single source of media is not the answer – shopping around all of the sources of media is.  Being an informed member of society requires helping yourself to the information that you need.

So, what do you think – are you being a smart consumer?