This report provides news and information about the state of journalism and news media. This is an evolving reference, so check back for the latest updates. Entries below are in chronological order with the most recent at the top. Headings show the source and date of each entry.
The following topics are presented below as news becomes available.
- News outlets, both print and television media, have been under attack in recent years after high-profile leaders referred to them as enemies of the people. Efforts to intimidate and delegitimize news agencies continue to be a problem. This impacts the freedom of speech and a free press.
- Polarization of news sources continues to be a problem resulting in biased, selective, and sometimes exaggerated news reporting. As growing alignments between political parties and businesses develop, the funding sources and advertisers have growing influence over the news agencies that represent their views.
- Public opinion about media is influenced by those who verbally attack news reporters and agencies.
The Challenge of Balance
A challenge that journalists face is in providing balanced unbiased reporting. These two are slightly different.
- Balanced reporting is offering articulate and honest opposing views or proposed solutions. It’s simply allowing the best arguments to come forward so people can make personal and social decisions, individually and collectively, for good.
- Unbiased reporting is similar, but more nuanced. It’s a skill of restraint when offering multiple viewpoints so as to not favor one over another.
- In addition to taking care with how the news is reported, there is the matter of deciding what news gets reported. Some stores, topics, or issues may be topics or causes that one group wants the public to know about. It’s important to choose topics that represent a variety of social concerns or interests.
A reporter with less experience and less maturity may see great opportunity in being able to shape the news with their own viewpoints. This attitude can actually break independent media in a harmful way by creating a lack of trust in reporting, or at least a lack of interest in reporting.
We think of independent media as not being influenced by donors, but equally important is having journalists who promote a free flow of ideas, including ideas they may not agree with. The independent media should be independent of inside individuals using the platform for their own agenda.
The “Liberal” Media?
On 11 May 2023, PBS NewsHour featured a Texas Republican Congressman talking about border policy — a topic of interest to Republicans. The interview was not confrontational, but informational. There were not “gotcha” questions. There was no opposing viewpoint. The sound, lighting, and overall video quality were good. In general, the video portrayed the Congressman in the most unhindered positive way possible. Even the promotional thumbnail photo of the video was well done, using an angle (from the ground upward) that showed the Congressman to be the same height as the Capitol building. This video is one example of many recently where U.S. news agencies are genuinely working to perform a hard-reset on news coverage. [View Video]
On 10 May 2023, CNN made a decision to provide substantive coverage of a leading Republican presidential politician having a town hall and being applauded by a studio audience filled with supporters.
In the past, CNN has been referred to by critics as the “Clinton News Network” in reference to what is perceived to be a liberal bias of the network. More recently, the term used for CNN (and others) was “enemy of the people” as a kind of preemptive strike to discredit anything they might say.
So, it’s odd that the most vocal critic of CNN was featured on CNN with such an unfettered platform. Opponents of the candidate assert that he is a lying unstable narcissistic sociopath extremist and charismatic cult leader who fosters domestic terrorism. For this reason, they were disappointed with the coverage.
In the video below, Anderson Cooper addresses these concerns.
In 2016, news media outlets pushed hard to stop a candidate perceived to be dangerous. These efforts were understandable, but seemed to produce counterproductive outcomes. The candidate won. Ultimately the news outlets printed retractions for incorrect stories biased against the candidate, and they apologized. The lesson learned is that biased reporting often doesn’t result in the outcomes one wants. The hidden “other half” of a free independent media is the need for a free independent citizenry able to think rationally, logically, and critically. Otherwise, media outlets become a platform for harmful people to manipulate the masses.
PBS NewsHour (2 Aug 2023)
“How the loss of local newspapers fueled political divisions in the U.S.” — Over the past few decades, more than 2,000 newspapers across the country have closed, leaving many communities without a reliable source of local information. Researchers say this crisis in journalism, driven by changes in technology, is fueling the country’s political divisions. Judy Woodruff visited a community in Texas that recently lost its newspaper for her series, America at a Crossroads. [Source]
CBS (2 Jul 2023)
“South Carolina newspapers evolve a new paradigm to survive” — In South Carolina in 2020, ten local newspapers folded their print editions, and those that remain are often shoestring operations. But some papers are bucking the trend, either by hiring staff, or collaborating with other papers to expand their coverage and investigate corruption in local governments. And readers are supporting them for providing news they can’t get anywhere else. “Sunday Morning” senior contributor Ted Koppel looks at how journalists are maintaining small-town papers at a time when industry trends are pessimistic. [Source]
VICE (6 Jun 2023)
“My Photo Helped Expose A CIA Coverup” — In VICE’s latest installment of “I Was There,” photojournalist Lou Dematteis recounts photographing the capture of U.S. mercenary Eugene Hasenfus after his cargo plane was shot down in the Nicaraguan countryside. Lou’s photograph, along with reporting from his colleagues on the ground, exposed how the American government, including the CIA, was illegally using funds made from selling arms to Iran to secretly fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. This became known as the Iran-Contra affair and the resulting scandal led to the conviction and resignation of several Reagan Administration officials, most notably Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. Note: At 13 minutes, the remaining 60 seconds of the video summarizes how journalism can impact policy. [Watch on YouTube]
BBC News (15 May 2023)
“Vice and Motherboard owner files for bankruptcy” — The company behind the websites Vice and Motherboard has filed for bankruptcy in the US and is set to be sold to a group of its lenders. Vice Media Group – which was valued at $5.7bn (£4.5bn) in 2017 – could be taken over for $225m. The youth-focused digital publisher said it will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process. [View]
C-SPAN (29 Apr 2023)
“Roy Wood, Jr. COMPLETE REMARKS at 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner” — The video clip above is queued at 19m 8s into the speech where Wood talks about the importance of local independent journalism. [Source]
Al Jazeera (26 Apr 2023)
“Venezuela’s alternative media movement” — The social infrastructure in Venezuela is collapsing, and when journalists bring that up, they have to contend with President Nicolás Maduro’s government and its authoritarian tendencies. Ryan Kohls looks at the media outlets driven underground in Maduro’s Venezuela. [Source]
CBC News (17 Apr 2023)
“CBC pauses Twitter activity after being labelled ‘government-funded media'” — CBC/Radio-Canada has paused activities on its corporate and news Twitter accounts, after the social media platform put a “government-funded media” label on its @CBC account, in its latest move to stamp public broadcasters with designations. [Source]
MSNBC (17 Apr 2023)
“Local paper records county officials in violent, racist discussion” — Rachel Maddow shares reporting by The McCurtain Gazette-News which published audio that apears to show McCurtain County, Oklahoma officials, including Sheriff Kevin Clardy, discussing killing local reporters and lamenting the right of Black people not to be lynched. [Source]
News9 (16 Apr 2023)
“McCurtain County Officials Caught on Recording Threatening to Kill Newspaper Journalists” — A newspaper reporter, suspecting county officials were holding illegal meetings, leaves an audio recorder running at the county commissioners office after a scheduled meeting. That recording captures the McCurtain County Sheriff and others discussing killing the journalist and his son and burring them in a deep hole. Governor Stitt’s reaction to the recording. [Source]
WGN News (12 Apr 2023)
“NPR quits Elon Musk’s Twitter over ‘government-funded’ label” — National Public Radio is quitting Twitter after the social media platform owned by Elon Musk stamped NPR’s account with labels the news organization says are intended to undermine its credibility. [Source]