As Americans, we are bombarded with 24-hour news cycles full of stories that are often little more than clickbait. We’re force-fed a diet of opinionated pundits and talking heads who offer up their biased interpretations of the events of the day.
The mainstream media is failing us, but we can fight back.
America is Falling Behind Because The Press is Failing Us
America is in deep trouble largely because the free press failed us. A functioning democracy relies on an informed electorate. That information is supposed to come from the press, often called the Fourth Estate, a tribute to its power in informing social progress.
This insidious problem of compromised media has far-reaching consequences. People’s trust in the media and the government has been eroded as a result, leading to a lack of confidence in our institutions.
It’s time for us to take a stand against this corrosive force and start using facts as our foundation once again. We can’t let fake news sideline us any longer; it’s time for action to be taken now.
We Need Unbiased Journalists, Living in Reality, Reporting Facts
With the chaos of fake news and misinformation circulating the internet, now more than ever we need journalists and media outlets that are devoted to unbiased, fact-based reporting. Today, the facts get discarded in favor of biased, opinionated stories and coverage that sensationalizes events and issues. The media wants us divided into two neat sides.
We need fewer talking heads with agendas and more reliable journalists focused on bringing us an honest narrative.
We live in a time when it’s arguably more important than ever before to have access to accurate information. Yet, we’re failing in this regard as media organizations continue to sacrifice facts and data in favor of narratives that support their cause. This has got to stop!
We need unbiased journalism.
Building Accountability in the Media
The mainstream media needs to be held accountable for its actions. We must demand that they focus on reporting the facts, rather than promoting a false narrative or fueling division and hatred.
Transparency in the Media
The mainstream media needs to be more transparent in its reporting. We need to know where they get their information from, and we need to be able to trust that it’s accurate.
We can do this by speaking out against biased and sensationalized reporting, and by supporting alternative media sources that are more trustworthy.
Prevent the Media from Profiting from Division
We’ve got to find ways to take the profit motive out of making us hate earth other. As consumers, we can use our attention, time, and money to reward media outlets that are making society better and not worse.
To break the vicious cycle where people who dive outrage get more and more rewards, while people trying to explain that the world is complex get pushed aside.
Boycott companies that advertise on programs that drive polarization
Shame the media
The parrots on the main media channels that are just regurgitating talking points from their masters (business or political) need to be called out for dereliction of duty. As citizens, we have the responsibility to call out behavior that is making the country worse.
Call out the talking heads for stocking the flames. You can use #counterProductive on social media when replying to the talking heads driving division.
Reward Real news
We need a real, trustworthy news media. One that’s not focused on clicks, or ratings, but on accurate reporting. We need a news media focused on the truth, and on helping us understand the world around us.
Support local journalism
One of the best ways to reform the media and build strong communities is by supporting local journalism. All politics are local.
“more than 1,400 towns and cities in the U.S. have lost a newspaper over the past 15 years. Many of those are in rural and lower-income areas, often with an aging population… The loss of a reliable local news source has many consequences for the community. One of them is the inability to watchdog the actions of government agencies and elected officials.”
So if you are one of the lucky people with a local news source, support them however you can. And if nothing exists, maybe you can take a stab at starting something online.
Citizen journalism is a form of journalism that’s practiced by citizens, as opposed to professional journalists. It’s often seen as an alternative to mainstream journalism, and it tends to be more grassroots-based. Citizen journalists often use social media to share news and information, and they often focus on local news stories.
One of the benefits of citizen journalism is that it gives a voice to people who might not otherwise be heard. It’s also more community-based, and it can help build stronger communities.
As Micha Barban Dangerfield writes for Tate.org “By taking responsibility and power over information, citizen journalists question the centralization of information. In America, six corporations control 90% of the media. In the UK, 70% of the national media market is owned by three major companies. It is now important for the potential and limitations of this new type of journalism to be highlighted and acknowledged.”
A “newer” trend in journalism is what’s being called Solutions Journalism, which focuses on solutions rather than problems. It’s an increasingly popular trend, and it’s changing the way we think about reporting on important issues like climate change, poverty, and inequality.
As SolutionsJournalism.org explains, it is “focused on what the news misses most often: how people are trying to solve problems and what we can learn from their successes or failures.”
Find and Reward Independent, alternate sources of news
We need to start looking for alternative sources of information, and we need to hold the media accountable when they fail to report the news accurately.
We also need to be more thoughtful about the way we consume news, and we need to be willing to have tough conversations about the role of the media in our society.
Only When We Have Real News Can We Make Informed Decisions
It’s all but impossible to tell what’s real and what isn’t. We have become so overwhelmed with false information, crafted solely to manipulate public opinion. It’s an absolute travesty that we live in times where having accurate facts to make important decisions is treated as a luxury.
The only way that humans can make meaningful choices about their lives is by ensuring that the news they consume is authentic and not someone else’s agenda.
Reforming the media is not something that happens overnight. The trends and incentives that got us where we are took decades to develop.
But I’d argue that finding and executing on ways to reform the media is one of the most vital needs of the country today.
Without a functioning media the dream of Democracy, and all the great stuff that comes with it, die.
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