CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Common attends a Special Screening Of "Luv" Presented By The Common Foundation at Showplace Icon Theater on September 10, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)

Common: “The integrity of the media is gone”

Chicago rapper-turned-actor Common has taken shots at the news media today, claiming that “the integrity of the media is gone in many areas.” The outcry was supposedly sparked over what he believes is a disparity in coverage of American presidential candidates, in the favour of the exploits of controversial CEO turned politician Donald Trump. You know the guy who has a lot of money from that TV show, oh, and the guy that thinks mexican immigrants are bogeyman drug dealers, rapists and criminals, yeah, that guy.

Being anything but what his name might suggest, Common, the compelling and talented musician made some salient and poignant arguments, albeit briefly during a Q&A with HuffPost Live. Best known for his gold album Be, released in 2005 by G.O.O.D Music and Geffen Records, the rapper doesn’t seem to have a specific problem with the hairpiece touting mogul, rather, just that the media at large takes a slanted and saturated view of Donald for “the numbers”. He continues to question the motives of those in charge of reporting the news:

It’s like where is the integrity of the journalists who know and will challenge these thoughts so that the American people can see truth and really have a good opportunity to get behind someone who’s going to matter, who’s going to really be about affecting change and improving this country.

We’ve seen many cases of a disparity between coverage for non-white ethnicity’s in western media, and on the major news networks diversity often seems little more than a box they must check to avoid profiling accusations. But when it comes to elections, the politician and media relationship can become very murky. News, at its core, is responsible for informing, but in the highly competitive print, digital and television news world, ratings, views, and purchases are at the top of the priority list. Without them, any mass media outlet would cease to exist. So while one media outlet runs Trump stories, receiving giant ratings, other outlets are kind of handcuffed, following suit or conceding the viewership they need for continued existence. At a more philosophical level though, that doesn’t just blur the line between informative news and entertainment, it shatters it.

Now I’m not saying that we’re living in the world of sly manipulation presented in Network, but Common’s point, and it’s a good one, is that the media is responsible for informing viewers, providing them with the content required to make informed and personal choices based upon what they read, watch and hear, and sometimes, they fall short. And never is this more important than during an election campaign. While news media isn’t exactly reporting inaccurate or biased news, and by no means is it necessarily insidious, there is definitely a disparity between coverage of less entertaining candidates and larger than life personalities running for office, and that is clearly problematic when a lot of voters are relying on news coverage to present to them candidates that they find themselves aligned with politically.

What does it all boil down to though? Not much really, just the fact that as long as people like Common continue to point out the failures of journalism, it will hopefully encourage consumers to think critically about what they are watching and not let themselves be shaped or manipulated by media saturation. So let’s all be healthily skeptical and make informed decisions when we vote against Malcolm Turnbull. And as a representative of Howl & Echoes I’d just like to say that I will no longer write about Donald Trump, if only because Common made it seem really uncool.