Op-Ed: We need a new kind of news system
by Patrick Robinson
News, spread digitally is DEVALUED as a service and thus is increasingly unsustainable. News organizations now almost daily announce layoffs, cutbacks and reduced coverage.
It doesn’t help to have people attack legitimate reporting as “fake news” since that equates even the most minor perceived bias as utterly false. That’s not reality.
The truth of a matter is sometimes lost in the haze of prejudice. People often say they wish they could “just get the facts” but a pure fact based story is not possible in many cases. News and information are often fluid and incomplete, not to mention subject to change. hence the striving to be FIRST puts ACCURACY in peril. If something can be corrected 10 minutes after it is first said… you have NO idea if the impression first created is corrected. As Jonathon Swift said "Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it” which today happens at the speed of light.
For many the only organization worth trusting is PBS (though it gets accused of bias too) but a truly balanced version of PBS news with total transparency feels necessary now.
Funded by the government.
PBS is often attacked by conservatives and funding is always in short supply. What if congress could recognize that bias is inherent in news reporting and gave conservative views their due by presenting events and stories in a Point/Counterpoint format? Literally presenting TWO brief reports or two reporters each coming at a story from a clearly defined point of view, especially regarding politics.
Not every story but every story would go through a balance review FIRST.
If you have listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olberman you can see the polarization is only reinforced by the two camps shouting at their own followers. No dialog is enhanced, no conversation is promoted.
Leaving the discussion to take place in the comments sections is sheer madness. It inevitably devolves into name calling, ad hominem attacks, false charges and pure rancor. That’s not helpful.
As journalism loses people, and news organizations shrink, the optimal functioning of a democracy is in ever greater danger. I think a government funded but INDEPENDENT news service with a panel of directors, elected by the people to over see the stories covered, the information shared is worth attempting to work out.
This would not be a government run news service.
Instead it would be a news service that is paid for by everyone but also checked and balanced by people who themselves are subject to the electoral voice of the people. We would directly elect members of a board for this purpose. National News Directors. They would hire a pre-set number of staffers and reporters. Bias would be clear, accepted and offset intentionally.
News has now changed into an adrenaline driven, “if it bleeds it leads” hyper competitive business that is less and less sustainable. We are often poorly served since the barrier to entry for publishing to the world is the cost of a cellphone.
We need to think about a carefully considered alternative that presents both sides of a story, argument or event. One that is less subject to claims of Fake News. One that is independent of the need to turn a profit through the exploitation of the most salacious, alarming news.
Our nation needs to take steps to make certain people get the truth, swiftly and transparently. Soon.
no. nonononono. the potential for abuse is huge. Look at PBS, which was for years a leftist/liberal program that influenced children starting in elementary school. Look around you: what if anything that the government touches is immune from politics?
The idea that there is some form of balance in this proposal is ludicrous.
adding to my previous response: the basic assumption you are making is that there is objective truth in the moment. much like the fog of war distorts those actions, the fog of politics often takes time to lift. Having some sort of government funded "truth committee" is remarkable for a belief in rationalism as the source of truth. Emotionalism is the prime driver of politics today, and of belief in general. No amount of "Balance" will speed up the process of discovering and reporting the truth. it takes work, which costs money, to find the twists and turns of informational leads that eventually can be reported as truth.
your idea is a wonderful example of the hope for a utopian future in which truth is instantly recognizable and reportable. if the reporters are biased, it seems, the editorial board, made up of wise people who have no bias, will fix that. It might be worth remembering that history is written by the winners, not necessarily reflecting truth.
You seem to have missed the core concept.
The idea is that the government has ZERO control over this and that stories would pass through an editorial panel of equal liberal and conservative review. Then BOTH SIDES would be presented in sequence for the viewer to decide. As it is now we have private enterprise deciding what to present. The potential for abuse is FAR greater if it can be influenced by money and power.