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.
LateBreakingNews.com is exploring different ways of finding, and presenting, timely late-breaking news; part of the Arkacia.com global network.