My daily routine when I wake up is to make the coffee, make my breakfast, and then try to find news worthy of the name. We have a problem in this country, actually worldwide, that true news and true news outlets are disappearing. Rapidly. It is bad enough that real news is put on scrolling banners or hidden in the depths of a website when stories about “celebrities,” or puff pieces about waters skiing squirrels dominate the headlines, but our major news outlets are sounding more and more like wrestlers trading insults through Mean Gene Okerlund. I understand, most people understand, that 100% objectivity from reporters is not a real thing and we can accept that. We can accept getting news that has a bit of bias in it, especially if we know before hand the biases of that particular reporter or news agency. Unfortunately, we do not have that, we have media outlets calling themselves news agencies and reporting biases that just happen to have a few sound bites from a real news story to “prove,” their point of view, and we not only accept this, we applaud it. These media outlets are destroying civil discourse and making it neigh impossible to find out what is going on in this world (OH YEAH, finally able to use the term “neigh impossible”). If you don’t agree with this assessment go to your favorite “news site” and click on any article. Then scroll down and read the comments. Are the comments predominantly filled with people, who hold one view point, ridiculing and mocking those who have the opposite view point? Should a person holding the opposite view, or even one slightly different, dare make a comment, are they shouted down and dismissed in some of the most awful ways?
It is a negative feed back loop and we all do it. We all love to have our own view points validated, and negativity is so much easier, and more fun, than positivity. I do have a solution to our news agency problem though. This is just a rough draft, and there are obviously some kinks that would need to be worked out, some laws and provisions to prevent government tampering but I think this could work.
The federal government sets up a trust, fund, or something that will completely fund three to four news agencies. The government cannot, I repeat cannot, touch this money. Ever. Each news agency gets the exact same amount of money each year to run their agency. They can get an increase in their money, but only if representatives from each agency sit down, work out a new budget and present it to the federal government together. I cannot stress enough how important it is that not one person in government can touch, redirect, have control of, nothing to do with this money. In no way can Senators, Congressmen, the President, his cabinet, nobody can use the money to influence the news agencies. At all, ever. This is super, super important. Okay, the amount they get has to be big enough so that they can compete with CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. The reason they get the money from the government is so they no longer have to sell ad space. They do not need to worry about ratings to generate ad revenue. Since they are not worried about ratings, they can worry about reporting the actual news.
So, we have taken care of money. Everybody who works at these agencies gets a competitive salary and they can report actual news. Now, they tell us what their biases are. Either the agency as a whole, for each show, or each reporter. Here is why. We need to trust that the reporters are going to be objective as possible, but we also need to realize that true objectivity is very rare. Despite best efforts, they cannot be wholly neutral. Knowing which way they lean means we know how to process the information as they report it. We can say to ourselves, “Well, I know that she is has very liberal leanings. So, this report is either better (or worse) than what she is reporting.”
It sounds good so far. I do want to reiterate that there need to be safeguards in place to make sure that these do not become government news agencies. Among the rules for these news agencies is that there will be absolutely no shows such as O’Reily, Hannity, Glen Beck, or other such shows that are not actually news but just ways to stir the pot and make people angry. There can be panel shows, but they have to be about actual news and for civil discourse between opposites sides of an issue.
Finally, the current outlets for news can no longer call themselves news. Just like the WWE has to call itself “sports entertainment,” these other guys would need to start calling themselves “news entertainment.” It would be needed to separate the real journalists from these people who call themselves journalists, but are more interested in encouraging strife than reporting facts.
There we have it. My idea for saving the Fourth Estate. It would take some careful planning and frequent monitoring but I think it could be done. That is another reason why I say there needs to be three or four news agencies created, so they can monitor each other.