News has a problem... and seems to be unaware of it. Seems that with all of the outlets out there where you can actually get real information, people have become keenly aware that news outlets seem to be creating news instead of reporting...or coming up with good, juicy headlines and fitting 1/2 truths of information in the story to fit the headlines.
I talked about it in relation to how local media outlets handled a KCMO press conference on the Dangerous Dog ordinance last month. http://btoellner.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/06/reporting_what_.html The KC Star did a fabulous job of this during its coverage of the Stadium Tax issues back in April.
It appears that the Star isn' the only one doing this. This week, Malcolm Gladwell talked about how the New York Times headline was misleading in that it only dealt with the increase in price of branded drugs -- when the cost of generics has actually declined: http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/
The collective media has also done a terrible job in the coverage of the war in the Middle East. I read an article recently that the news people have somehow managed to not talk about Weapons of Mass destruction that were actually found in Iraq. We found something? If we did, which it sounds like we might have, seems like that'd be a pretty big deal. I've barely even heard about it. Last July I spent 3 days in Toronto and got news in the Daily in Toronto that Canada sent about 300 of their elite ground troops to help in Iraq -- not one single media outlet that I could find in the US carried it. That seemed like big news to me. Also, we hear a lot about soldiers supposedly killing innocent people in Iraq, but hear nothing about them turning schools back into schools (and no longer military basis) and giving local communities in Iraq hope. I guess even entertaining that the government is doing anything right would not be newsworthy.
Mark Cubin also talked about how reporters were blaming him for being the story of the NBA playoffs -- but correctly identified that he is only the story if reports CHOOSE him to be the story. http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000227073770/
Meanwhile, according to Edelman Research, people continue to distrust news on broadcast media, but are growing in trust in online media -- most of which is actually their peers through blogs and chat rooms. People feel like they get the truth from their peers (even those they've never actually met) vs the media, corporations and advertisers who are setting the "news" to meet their agendas.
I think there is a wonderful opportunity out there for those who authentically want to deliver accurate, not-one-sided, information to people. There is also a huge chance that by the time any media outlet figures out that there is a demand for fair news that shows all sides of the story it will be too late for them.
There used to be a time when we had enough media competition that all sides of the story were shared one way or the other. But now, with only one daily newspaper in a market, maybe one local talk radio station, and TV news stations that only care about fires and shootings, there is so little actual news content shared -- and almost never a decenting voice. It's scary...and we should figure out a way to demand more.