Changing the way we get news

Imagine this: we turn on the 6 o’clock news, and the first twenty minutes are all positive, uplifting stories. We hear about how the world around us – locally, nationally and globally – is improving. Even if the world has not changed at all, our perception of the world has improved. Instead of being bombarded with sensationalist news that gives us the impression that the world is falling apart, we get the opposite effect – thinking that our world is improving.

Why is news not like this right now? News is corporately owned, just like the rest of the media. For a news source to profit, it needs to sell commercials, and to sell commercials it has to attract viewers. Our society loves sensationalist news. It is a fact of life: atrocities, violence and debauchery stimulate us. A story about a 10 car pile-up is way more interesting than an increase in charitable donations, which is why the news always starts with the hottest stories first.

However, if we were to take away the commercial aspect of the news media – ads in newspapers, commercials on the radio and TV – then we take away the need for ensationalist news. If all news media sources had the same regulations and the same enforcements, one news source could be as reliable and unbiased as any other.

We have government regulations that keep our water supply safe to drink (usually), and ensure that our food is safe to eat (mostly), as well as laws that try to keep our air clean. Our news information has the ability to shape our perception of the world – why don’t we have stricter regulations to ensure that such a vital resource is as clean as possible? I feel that it would take relatively few resources to ensure that all news sources are as unbiased as possible.

One may argue that without the commercial revenue, news media is no longer feasible, meaning they won’t be able to afford to produce and release the news. But if we remove the requirement for sensationalism, presenting the news would take much smaller budgets – there would be no reason to have the prettiest spokespeople, computer graphics and the rest of the catchy, flashy aspects of the news media. Just news, plain and simple.

I am not suggesting that we have to restructure the majority of the media, nor am I saying we should get rid of commercials entirely. All I am suggesting is to implement new regulations for all media outlets that provide news – enforcing a policy (for as long as the news is being shown) of no commercials allowed, no endorsements, and (ideally) no private agendas, with all information regulated and monitored by watchdog organizations with the power to stop misinformation from being propagated.

Now, I know that our information can never be totally pure or accurate, as there is only so much we know to be true, but our news should strive to maintain the integrity and ideals of true journalists – unbiased, objective and untainted. I also know that there is no way to please everyone – but it is possible to ensure that all sides of an issue get relatively equal representation, across the board.

Information is too essential a resource for it to be tainted by a corporate agenda; regulated and standardized news media is a possibility that we can make happen.

-This is an excerpt from chapter 2 of my book.

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