Make “NEWS” news again. EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!

Do you AGREE or DISAGREE?

FOX NEWS, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR, WSJ and “news” channel outlets online who think that “news matters” should follow these suggestions ASAP:

This is an opinion piece after witnessing the “news stories” in the “newspapers”, magazines and cable news shows for, well, my entire adult life. I think reporting organizations can easily do a much better job of identifying and reporting the RELEVANT FACTS in the stories they report. As it stands now, there is almost nowhere to go if one wants to get the facts of a political story in one place, and most stories are spun as political in some way. For example, I want to know what the President said vs. what the media says he meant. HEY! You “news” people tend to skip a step!

[2] What facts? Specifically please report upfront in the story the TRIGGERING EVENT, comment or action in raw form that the story is about. Don’t start with the reporter’s opinion of what the story means. Allow the reader, viewer, or listener to decide that. At least separate the reporter’s opinions from the facts. Perhaps putting the opinion in an OPINION BOX at the conclusion of the report or video? Do this and the world could be a more rational and less hostile place and your career might actually grow to be respected.

[3] Editors should support reporters in this effort with coaching, approval, bonuses and favored status? In short, align incentives toward this goal of facts and clarity and away from opinion, bias and judgment and management’s political agenda, if any.

[4] PEJORATIVE GLOBAL TERMS should be defined within the story so we, the listeners/viewers/readers can judge for ourselves if the facts support the label being applied (e.g. racist, sexist, homophobic, traitor, white nationalist, alt-right, alt-left, Nazi, Communist, Socialist, Fake News …) This should always be an independent definition and not a circular argument like “X said this and that means they are a racist.” A dictionary or a history book might be useful here? Your customers should actually learn something by reading or watching you report, at least something beyond your opinions.

[5] NEWS ORGANIZATIONS – it is not about you, your thoughts, your feelings or your anything. So, STOP making the news about you (e.g. by sponsoring your own surveys and the formation of panels of IDENTICALLY-MINDED opinion makers who present their consensus as unopposed truth which you then report as news. Or stating your opinion and finding several people who agree and only using them in your story. Or, interviewing one side asking them what the other side thinks instead of actually interviewing the other side and letting them speak for themselves.)

[6] SOCIAL MEDIA – I think that the USA government should define what social media companies are under the law (publishers? broadcasters? both? other?) and therefore how they must operate their businesses under existing laws and regulations. Perhaps the social media companies themselves could develop standards of practice and at least some code of ethics regarding deceptive use of information, slander, false reporting, and censorship tactics. That would be worth a try. They can start by defining EVIL and how they will work to avoid creating it. Imagine your political rival doing exactly what you are doing and then ask is that fair? If not, stop it.

[7] Government supported UNIVERSITIES and COLLEGES who fail to support open discussions of differing points of view should suffer funding cuts with funds going to institutions that do demonstrate that debate and reasoned discussion are their institutional values. Here too, standards for allowing differing points of view on campus AND in classrooms could be developed by inter-institutional panels representing the public, students and the academic institutions themselves. I suggest self-defining the purpose of each institution and why it deserves taxpayer funding followed by a student bill of rights and responsibilities to start. Don’t leave out the responsibilities part. Children do that – naturally. Educated adults should not.

[8] Offer the equivalent to a NOBEL PRIZE IN JOURNALISM or some such thing? Perhaps the creation of a Gates PRIZE FOR JOURNALISM (no not the ICFJ for shaping the world. You get no points for shaping the world in your image!) Or find some other endowment sources (crowd funding?). The money prizes could be used to recognize and reward reporters and news organizations for their exceptional pursuit of truth and outstanding service to “NEWS” following the above guidelines. I repeat, the award would NOT be given to those who seek to SHAPE public policy or the world but to those who supply raw materials (facts) to those who need them for thinking and judging what actions to take (the news consuming public and voters). It is not your job to shape public opinion.

Your mission should be to observe the highest reporting standards across a broad range of your reporting realm and strive for the ability to organize facts, research trends and context perspectives benefiting the education of all. A transparent representative committee of different ideologies and world views should be maintained to award this prize. This would be an annual prize that might skip years as determined by the availability of qualified candidates.

[9] Context and trend information should cease being manipulated to fit the news reporter’s or more likely editor’s bias. The great reporter would be adept at sniffing out “Gerrymandered” trends, for example the use of self-serving beginning and ending dates. Also, one example does not a case make for a vast conspiracy right or left.

[10] OPPORTUNITY! Report relevant facts and grow rich? The “news” situation at present offers an excellent business opportunity for someone(s)! Any group of investors who might seek to do a good job instead of the mashup job we have now, and who can tell a fact from a canard (an unfounded rumor or story) please step forward! The time is right. Go for it!

Remember this is an opinion piece. Thank you and good luck!

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