I know the title of this post seems out of character for me since I believe that the press is one of the most important things that keeps our democracy together. So, why would I want it muzzled?
The basic problem as I see it is that the meaning of “press” has just become too wide and without any accountability.
Let’s look at a few things that are basic problems:
Lack Of Objectivity
Let’s face it with the introduction of cable news so many years ago unbiased objectivity has all but disappeared from media outlets. If unbiased objectivity were the norm Fox News and likely MSNBC would not exist. Believe it or not, objectivity didn’t use to be the way it is now. I can still remember when David Brinkley made an off-mic derogatory comment about President Clinton raised a fury in the media world. This is one of those rare times when I think “the good old days” were actually better. If you wanted to be a member of the press you had to report things without flagrant bias. Personal politics didn’t play a part of that duty.
Lack Of Accountability
Fabricating their version of the news must become a non-existent thing. When a new organization tells blatant lies to gain viewership they must somehow be held accountable. I see where a voting machine manufacturer has Fox News panicked because of a lawsuit against them due to their blatant lies about the reliability of voting machines. The Lou Dobbs show was abruptly cancelled a few days after the suit was filed. Maybe this is the beginning of a new standard of accountability?
The News Must Sell Soap
A basic problem with the current way we do press is that it must sell soap. That is, it must have a certain mass of reader/viewers in order for it to get advertising income. It used to be that network news organizations got their budget from the parent corporation, not from selling soap. I don’t know if that is even possible now?
Too Much Sensationalism
If it bleeds, it leads – Most of the “press” dramatize everything.
Even the Weather Channel does it now! Almost everything they show are videos of flood, hurricanes, tornadoes many times throughout each day.
Too Much Fixation On One Topic
During the past 4 years almost everything was about Trump. There just seemed to be no room for anything else.
Too Many People Claiming 1st Amendment Rights
Everyone seems to think that they are the press and therefore have a right to say anything they want without accountability or possible prosecution.
A Possible Solution
As usual, I have an idea on how to bring back objectivity, accountability, and balance to our news organizations. Let’s look at some similar situations and how they have successfully dealt with their problems. The obvious one is the American Bar Association. To practice law, you have to be a member of that 148-year-old institution. You have to pass an exam to prove that you know the rules and ethics of law. You can’t call yourself a lawyer or work in that field without passing the bar. If you do something that is according to their rules unethical you are disbarred.
Why can’t an ABA organization be set up for news media outlets?
That seems like the least complicated solution to me. Much of the same type of rules need to be instituted if you want to claim 1st amendment rights as a member of the media. Otherwise, you risk having to be accountable for what you say. We would not be stopping you from having your say, but you can’t tell blatant lies to make a profit.