Once Upon a Time, News Was Fair
Its hard to define exactly what the word 'fair' means; to each person is has a slightly different meaning. But in the old days if TV news, there was a more moderate approach, and less politicizing of the news. We had trusted news anchors, like Walter Cronkite, to give us a summary - and a good starting point for our own discussions.
In the era of the web, everything has changed. Now, publication is too easy; almost every view, no matter how extreme, can have a large presence on the web, causing resharing and confusion. To make matter worse, we are in the era of 'Big Data' - which means that a lot is know now about every person and group. Appeals can be targeted to very small groups, even to one person to manipulate them by feeding information about their main issue, and draw them into a group. People feel some kind of meaning in such a message, unaware they are being manipulated. Guns are a good example - there is a huge disparity now between facts about gun violence versus what people believe.
The Fairness Doctrine required newscasters to present news that was fair and balanced; but this was eliminated in 1987. It seems that news is more deeply impacted by the internet and social media than anyone ever expected. A Twitter feed with millions of followers has an unfair advantage. We need new versions of the Fairness Doctrine, and the Equal Time Rule, too.
Technology can help. For example, if the sitting president uses social media - such as tweets, and has millions of followers, it would be fair to have a new kind of equal time rule that let the other party reply to all of those same users - and this is something that Twitter could build into the platform, if Congress made suitable changes to laws about how officials address the public.
There are many things that can be done. Fact-checkers are a start, so people have resources to check truthfulness. The large social media platforms are working on automated tools to reduce hate speech and to ensure more accuracy. News source matters, too - if Russia is manipulating US voters via social media posts, we need to find ways to stop that. But we can never have a comprehensive solution until the largest news agencies all try harder to avoid politicization, avoid being manipulated by candidates and officials, to be more accurate, and to use non-political verbiage.
We are working on some ideas of our own for how a news item evolves as it gets shared; there are ways to help preserve accuracy, and we will release more information on this soon.
Checkout our top nav bar there is a pull-down menu called "Fact Check' that has a lot of fact-checking resources.
Results Were NOT as Expected!
We have been running an experiment here at LateBreakingNews.com, where we showed the late-breaking news feeds of all the major news media - but we filtered out almost every story that mentioned words like 'Trump', 'Potus', and a few similar. We also blocked news reports that mentioned a few other highly-charged words like 'Hillary' and 'Breitbart'.
There was still a lot of news, and it looked more like the news used to look; more factual, more about a wide-range of events.
Our hypothesis was that Trump supporters would be less interested in our webiste, and Trump critics would be more interested; but what we found, was that everyone was less interested!
Apparently everyone wants to see news about Trump. Love him or hate him, Conservative or Liberal, it seems that people just love news about Donalt Triump. Its kind of like the irrestible urge to look at a car crash; no one wants someone else to crash but if it happens, we just cannot avoid looking. This political rubber-neck has reached new heights in the Trump era, but has always existed.
Our site has been redone, it is all standard news sources. We have put in a lot of links for media bias checking, and easy ways to get right to the late-breaking news feeds of all the major news media. We would love to hear any feedback you have, please contact us with your comments and ideas! Our site is to bring together all the major news media; and to find different ways of presenting the most recent, late-breaking news - so if you have ideas for improving that, we want to hear.
The Politicization of News is Hurting Democracy
Politifact is an independent organization. They have analyzed all of the major news media,and released figures on which ones are more accurate and factual. It turns out, probably to no ones surprise, that Fox News and MSNBC are the least accurate.
Fox News is in last place, and MSNBC 2nd to last.
We all understand the pressure to get ratings. But in the long run, you will have higher ratings when you offer a quality product. News organizations that focus on sensationalism, excessive violence, or are overly political are hurting their long term viability. They are misinforming viewers, and this is not a service; it is a disservice. The web is so connected now, it is fairly easy to find ways to do fact checking; people need to make this effort.
You can read the Politifact story here.
There is also a very interesting article in Wikipedia about the history of Fox News Controversies. For example we have all heard Fox News anchors pronouncing Barack Obama's last name as 'Osama'. This kind of innuendo is childish, unprofessional, and almost everyone sees through it.
We are publishing this blog post because many media outlets reported on the Politifact study mentioning only Fox News (which is Conservative), or mentioning only MSNBC (which is Liberal), depending on their political position. We are totally independent, and therefore wanted a headline that was more accurate.
LateBreakingNews.com is exploring different ways of finding, and presenting, timely late-breaking news; part of the Arkacia.com global network.