Archive for January 24th, 2010
It’s certainly not breaking news that the commercial news media tends to abhor careful detailed rational discussion. This reluctance of local media outlets to report meaningful news has been going on for many years.
But what is “news”? In my opinion, the most important news is information that sheds light on the way our community functions. High quality “news” informs us of the way our government is working. It warns us of collective dangers, including those dangers that we will face in the distant future. It gives us the information we need to take steps to protect ourselves, both as individuals and as a community. It is skeptical of outrageous claims, and honors the scientific method. It repeatedly reports on information that many viewers/readers might find inconvenient or disturbing, although it also balances this with information that makes us celebrate the state of our community and nation.
Reporting the “news” accurately means holding up a big mirror to viewers/readers, and those who report accurately will work hard not to be community cheerleaders who filter out “bad news,” no matter how much they want to please, distract or entertain the audience. Couple this definition with the fact that the most serious issues of the day are unwieldy. They are either legally or factually complicated, or they have been so corrupted with political spin, that reporting on the issues meaningfully will require long hours of one or more aggressive veteran reporters who are constantly being supported by his/her editor and employer.
I recently attended a conference sponsored by True Spin. My take-away is that that the majority of what passes for local “news” is starkly at odds with the above definition of “news.” Mason Tyvert summarized the types of things that are now required to pass as “news”: