Putting Journalism Back in “the news”
There’s been a lot of talk about “Fake News” since the Imbecile-in-Chief ran for office. Organizations have been allowed to play far too fast and loose with what they call “news.” There is even a petition on Change.org to demand Fox News remove “News” from its name and the names of all its programs. That petition, while I have signed it, really is too narrow.
Here’s what has to happen. Given a Congress that allows Lindsey Graham to still be walking around a free man instead of sitting behind bars, don’t expect it to happen.
Every outlet (print, Internet, radio, television, or new tech) wishing to have “news” content displayed to citizens located within the United States of America must obtain a journalism license from the FCC. That license mandates and enforces by prison sentence, not just token fines, breach of journalistic conduct.
No entity can name itself or any of its shows, segments, whatever using any of these words:
- Will not contain or be allowed to contain a “Commentary” or “Opinion” section where people not local to it regularly appear nor will locals appear more than once per year.
- Will never hire pundits or allow others to pay pundits to appear. These people don’t come with actual facts, just talking points and opinions. What they have to say might sell advertising, but it isn’t news.
- Will never have a “talk” type show. Talk shows are not news they are entertainment.
- Will not report on a “rumor going around,” “story going around,” or “unnamed sources close to,” or a “story on a Web site.” If a story cannot be vetted, it is not news.
- Will submit to a tribunal board of at least seven but no more than thirteen when infractions occur and accept their judgement when handed out, including prison time. The tribunal will be assembled by the FCC from top ranked/highly respected 4+ year universities. They will hold Masters or Ph.D. degrees in journalism and/or Mass Communications. Tribunal members will not be a permanent or year based. They will be assembled as needed to deal with gross infractions where prison time will most likely be handed out.
Yes, many shows on CNN and Fox will disappear, and they must.
Any outlets choosing not to subscribe to this license, including Breitbart, will have to brand themselves a tabloid. They cannot under any circumstances call themselves a “news” outlet or any of the other banned words. There are far too many shows on “news” networks with pundits, who aren’t actually involved in anything, hashing things out before the camera for news-o-tainment to fill air time while selling advertising.
As long as a billionaire or multi-billion dollar corporation can own a “news outlet” and get away with paying a fine of $100,000 or less, there is no incentive to change behavior. You make more from the advertising than the fine so you keep committing the offense because it is “good business.”
When “journalists,” “reporters,” or really any employee of the outlet gets on camera/radio/whatever-the-media-is and knowingly reports false news for the shock factor or other heinous breaches of public trust the tribunal will be assembled and if found guilty prison time will be handled out.
Like accounting, these will not be “laws” but “generally accepted journalistic practices” as defined by those who issue the degrees.