Should news media change to a different format to reach more viewers? Most newspapers and TV news shows are losing audience and advertisers. Are they header for extinction?
They have taken the road of being commentators without great success. Fox Media comes to mind as the lonely exception.
There is a news role that needs to be filled—to be collectors, providers, and verifiers of factual news (and archivists). I want to hear facts separate the interpretation of the facts.
I sometimes want to hear opinions, but I want them clearly separated from the discussion of facts.
Facts Differ from Explanations and Predictions
There is a distinction between facts and opinion which relies on point of view).
- Facts. Events that did occur, already.
- Explanations. Opinion. Uses particular point of view to tie together facts into a theme, often ignoring inconvenient facts.
- Predictions. Opinion. Uses facts and explanation to make a forecast to a future event.
We need to see them separated. The separation between news and editorial comment should be reinforced. The commentary these days will consume more time than the news does.
The look-and-feel of stories on facts and commentary should be noticeably different.
Events and Facts Covered
Selection of news stories to cover is a decision which must be clearly articulated. These choices reflect show the declared interest of the outlet as well as a potential for bias, if only some facts in their scope are presented to audience.
Just as they present news stories, they should present (and retain as available) their method for determining what stories they select and their coverage allocation for segments of their channel interest. For a business channel, that would mean a stated percentage of time devoted to market action and a stated percentage of time devoted to market analysis.
The traditional news media has a business model based on a expensive equipment and controlled channels to consumers that technology has created a mill race around. Their existing business model and cost structure must shrink commensurately to accommodate the ubiquity of competition.
Online media from Fox News to CNN make substantial profits, by mixing news and opinion. Neither tries to appeal to appeal to the entire nation or all advertisers. This is displayed both by their particular selection of news worthy stories and by their choice of opinion-makers.
PBS attempts to hew closer to just-the-facts. Unfortunately they are lumped into lame-stream media by conservative talking heads, because they don’t want their own audience to realize the jaundiced view of life in America that they are pushing.
Will PBS withstand the war against their operations? A battle being fought by conservative forces in government intend on strangling their funding.
If the 2020 election ends Trump’s rule and the supremacy of personal point-of-view over facts, the United States has a path to return to the primacy of facts in news and governmental actions.
If Trump refuses to accept his loss or if he wins by hook-and-crook, free press will become a memory.