Censorship is not the answer. Transparency is. The Transparency In Journalism Act.

Nov 29, 2020 | Featured

The news media in our country is broken.  Our once strong press has been badly damaged.  As citizens, regardless of our political leanings, we have lost faith in much of the news we now receive.

This problem is not uniquely red or uniquely blue.

My more liberal leaning friends blame the recent civil unrest and capital riots/insurgency on “reckless right-wing media” led by outlets like Fox News and Newsmax.

My more conservative leaning friends insist that the media coverage of President Trump and all other Republican initiatives is intentionally negative. They think it’s designed to hide the “real truth” from the people. This is the “fake news” we are all too familiar with.

What were once powerful beacons of truth and transparency have been extinguished, whether rightfully deserved or not.

Ironically, both groups accuse the media of serving as propaganda machines to the “other guy’s” party.

We all instinctively know that the madness has to end.  But how?  How do we reign in the industry without allowing elected officials and their political appointees decide what constitutes truth, and what doesn’t?  (See example link for an argument to establish a “Truth Commission” to examine the Trump Presidency.)

Many of the complex issues we face as a society are more shades of grey, than absolute black or white.  Truth, unfortunately in matters such as those that faced our society over the last twelve months, can be somewhat relative.  As a basis for engagement, we need to be able to acknowledge the facts of a story or at the very least be aware of the biases of a particular news organization. We could and should  encourage our fellow citizens to arrive at their own conclusions by providing them with information with transparent sources.

More than ever, American news consumers need transparency.  A level of transparency no less than the levels we are provided for the food we eat. The government holds food producers accountable to ensure that consumers can easily find and understand the nutritional content of every morsel of food we buy and eat.  With transparency about nutrition and ingredients, customers can use their own discretion when it comes to their food choices.

We should expect no less from the companies purporting to report the news.

For this reason, I call on the actCongress to introduce a forward thinking piece of legislation known as Transparency in Journalism.

(Click here for a downloadable summary of the legislation.)

The successful implementation of this act will provide a highly visible, easy-to-understand label on all sources of news and editorial media at their point of consumption. This proposed digital label will provide the consumer with a clear understanding of the news outlet’s ownership, political affiliations, and political donations. Pure and simple, the consumer will now be able to understand what the source has to gain by telling the story.

Further, a successful label will allow the consumer to gauge how much of a news piece or media outlet is journalism versus opinion based on any potential political and/or financial interests of that organization and its employees.  With the limited resources of our fledgling parAdminstration, we have outlined the framework for this urgently needed piece of legislation in the attached summary.

Implementing such a bold initiative will be difficult and not without bumps in the road. However, it is essential for our republic and its citizens to know what happens behind the curtain at companies who claim to report the news.

Join with me by forwarding this summary to your lawmakers and asking them to consider it.