There are a lot of opinions that are presented as TV news, according Searchlights and Sunglasses, the Knight Foundation-sponsored survey of today’s digital media.
“Consumers could and should demand honest labeling,” writes lead author Eric Newton. Opinion is necessary and deserves to exist, observes Newton, but he argues that that it would be more fair for the public to have it labeled as such.
While I understand how this would be ideal in a perfect world, the idea doesn’t seem viable outside a media utopia. I don’t see a cable news show opening with, “Welcome to the 5 p.m. opinioncast,” not in a healthy open market.
Another point that the author makes: newsrooms shouldn’t send reporters to press conferences. Instead, he suggests, they should “form partnerships and share content.”
In this case, X news station would retranslate Y news stations’ content and will have to label it as such, sending viewers to Y.
I remember one of my professors saying “you should always ask the first question at a press conference. When you do so, say your name and the organization you work for.” He explained to us that a lot of times, the important press conferences are transmitted live. This makes viewers, no matter what channel they are watching, hear your news station’s name.
Finally, I don’t agree with the fact that “any news organization should [be allowed to] become a non-profit,” making donations supporting the programming tax deductible.
True, they would become less dependable on advertising money. I see this situation very dangerous. Instead of competing for the adds and trying to increase their sales, the news organizations would depend on their donors’ dollars. In that situation it is more likely big contributors would be able to dictate the content. Or it might lead stations to impose auto-censorship; affiliated news organizations would be less likely to investigate/report on things that would upset the donors and disturb the money flow.