The Fair Media Council places a heavy emphasis on the need for the public to meet the media, not only to build relationships but to demystify the news process.
And that’s important because people distrust — or worse, fear — what they don’t understand. How the news media functions, why it chooses one story over another and what it decides not to cover are the types of decisions made inside newsrooms that the public has no way of knowing, and no way of understanding. From inside a newsroom, it’s often hard to fathom why explanations are necessary for such elemental components of the job — and therein lies the rub: What’s not seen as a big deal is actually vital to building a foundation of trust with today’s news consumer.
You can argue “it wasn’t like this in the old days,” and that’s indeed true. Counter-argument: The old days are long gone, as first cable news, then social media and now fake news pervades the public domain, watering down the ability of reputable news outlets to effectively tell stories that matter in an atmosphere of distrust.
To that point, a new study is out, illustrating the importance of providing the news consumer with an understanding of how media works. The Columbia Journalism Review reports on the findings, which simply underscores the need to address the growing chasm between the media and the public.
Here’s the thing: FMC, with great thanks to its members, sponsors, supporters, and speakers, has been bringing these issues to life through our programming for decades now, and the work is proving more vital than ever. The news media that participates in our programming, for the very reason of meeting and explaining the backstory of their jobs, illustrates the true commitment to public service is alive and well in the news business.
But what we also see is a public that needs to recognize the importance of becoming educated, and taking the time to go inside the news when given the opportunity. Too often that’s viewed as a job for the marketing department when, in fact, it’s a job for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.
– Jaci Clement, CEO & Executive Director, Fair Media Council
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