Getting a balanced diet of news coverage

Professionals and their audiences alike can agree that the state of journalism isn’t at its peak. Tired of your time being wasted with stories of Paris and Britney? Who is to blame? Unfortunately, finger pointing isn’t going to solve the problem, because we’re all guilty of accepting second-rate news coverage.

As a journalist, it’s frustrating to see sloppy reporting. Facts left unchecked lead to false attributions, which damages credibility. Building a relationship of trust between the viewer and the reporter is how journalism operates.

It’s also frustrating to see my friends and family getting their news from only one source.  They end up receiving all the day’s most important news from one outlet in a watered-down form.

In defense of many journalists, their coverage decisions are often a response to the perceived needs of the viewer. The public has a more powerful voice because of their sheer numbers. They can voice their opinion on the state of journalism and make choices when it comes to what network they watch. The solution is a balanced diet of news and information from a variety of sources.  Think of it as a pseudo news-food pyramid.

We know we can’t get all of our daily nutrients from one section of the food triangle, so why do we try to do it with news coverage? You certainly can’t expect to learn about the world’s happenings from CNN in only one sitting. Ideally, you should consume a portion of “whole-grain” news coverage from each major network packed with vitamins and minerals. You should supplement that with a glass of calcium-enriched internet news sites and possibly a side helping of radio broadcast or newspaper article. Don’t forget about a low-fat magazine for dessert.

It’s important to remember that your intake of news coverage isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality and variety. It’s up to the public to do a little work and ask questions about stories that interest them.

Don’t expect to call it quits after watching 10 or 15 minutes of Fox News or MSNBC. It’s not reasonable to believe that one news source has a complete grasp on important issues. Explore each medium to a degree and maybe soon we’ll see a response in quality from journalists.

Can I interest you in some ESPN for dessert?

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Northwestern State University. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2008 Lane Luckie

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