Commentary

Media Should Serve, Not Convert, The People

Media today is not fair.  It is not equal.  It is not representative of the role media used to play for the American citizen, and there’s a reason why that’s the case.

In 1987 the Federal Communications Commission abolished the fairness doctrine, which had been in place since 1949.  This doctrine originally forced broadcasters to air contrasting views of topics that mattered to the American people.  It did not mean equal airtime.

Equal time is still guaranteed, but that’s not applicable to topical interests.  The equal time rule only applies to political candidates and is mostly recognized by the acceptance of ads.

The fairness doctrine meant that topics like gun control, abortion, civil issues and anything that could be considered a hot button in the American psyche had to be treated fairly. Without that regulation in place, far left and far right points of view run rampant and clog the airwaves with nonsense.  Most of the U.S. could likely be considered “centrist” or “moderate” if they weren’t being brainwashed by one side or the other.  

At the core of the issue is the balance of education and responsibility.  There is an education issue in this country: Far too many people are not given the chance to have the insight and data to form their own opinions.  They are told what to think and they are not trained to be critical thinkers.  

There is also, unfortunately, a responsibility issue that lies with the media.  The media should serve the people, not try to convert them.  Media should offer a status of what is going on, and dual sides of the conversation. They do not do that anymore.

Solving this issue is difficult, but achievable.  Each of you reads various media outlets and is able to influence the immediate world around you.  It is up to you to hold the media accountable, and to ask the people around you to do the same. Each of you can help others around to be critical thinkers.  Critical thinking is not arguing or fighting.  It means asking questions, gathering data and insights, and empowering yourself to form your own opinions. 

If we all worked together, if we all thought critically, if we were all open to new ideas and held our media outlets accountable, we could get back on the right track.

We can also appeal to the human nature of those in charge of the media to represent the fairness doctrine again.  It's clear the FCC will never bring it back because it has become a political organization, or at least influenced by politics and money. 

That’s unfortunate, but I don’t think we can boil the ocean at once. We can reach out to the media companies themselves and ask them to reinstate fairness in media.  We can ask them to represent opposing viewpoints in their reports.  We can let them know that we want to see all sides of a topic and be empowered to think for ourselves.  Maybe if we do that, things can get back to normal.  Maybe we can get back to a world where compromise is not a dirty word, and where we can all work together again.

3 comments about "Media Should Serve, Not Convert, The People".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, October 21, 2020 at 7:49 p.m.

    I don't believe in the fairness doctrine no need for it since there aren't 3 channels anymore even then it was bias and never fair nor balanced. Media has always had a liberal bias which 80% is liberal the fairness doctrine would be a form of censorship which is wrong on so many levels. Media will never be 50/50 and play it down the middle nightly news on CBS, NBC & ABC aren't uber-liberal but it's still liberal not as bad as CNN which use to try and be fair that changed when Jeff Zucker took over.

    MSNBC all in being the leftist channel Fox News is conservative and primetime host are in the tank for Trump I don't watch the opinion shows on cable news since there in the tank for Biden CNN, MSNBC, Trump Fox News, OAN, NewsMax TV although that isn't a news network just talk radio host.    

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 22, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.

    Cory, the FCC grants licenses to TV stations in the public interest and, consequently,  regulates them----- but not the networks and certainly not cable---which still accounts for the largest share of "linear TV" viewing. The broadcast networks have regulated themselves---more or lkess informally---on some of the "fairness" issues---but they are no longer the dominant audience getters they once were. So, when we want "the media" to act more responsibly---meaning TV networks, cable channels, syndicators and stations---we need to be more specific. For example, such a quest might be confined to news programs---regardless of who presents them----- as opposed to any and all types of content. But the question remains---how do you get it done. Under the current FCC mandate, the Feds lack the power to enforce fairness on most TV programmers and, certainly, on the SVOD/AVOD services.

  3. Mark Addison from Rocket Science, October 27, 2020 at 1:21 p.m.

    We can no longer legislate our way out of this mess; the media landscape has become too fragmented to regulate. @Cory is correct that change needs to come from within to get back to "fair and balanced" journalism as the exhalted goal. To do that, we need everyone to do their part: We need the j-schools to idolize the best investigative journalists and send idealistic graduates into the field; we need commercial sponsors who don't threaten to pull their budgets if the editorial doesn't match the Board's personal views; we need employers to welcome political discussions at work; and we need a general population that supports civic discourse and welcomes opposing points of view. We need a grass-roots, mission-driven movement. Society is "us".

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