About Public Editor Press
Hello! My name is Allen Nitschelm, and I am the publisher of Public Editor Press. Our mission is to reform American journalism to introduce things that are missing from most journalistic enterprises today–unbiased reporting and balanced editorial pages.
I wanted to say “reintroduce,” but I’m not an historian of journalism. That being said, it is my understanding that newspapers have often been partisan, but there was lots of competition, so readers could choose which flavor of bias they preferred. With the decline of newspapers, however, we are left without direct competition so newspapers have become advocates. This has certainly contributed to declining readership and a mistrust of the media. What print journalists cover are then magnified by the broadcast media. So the underlying problem is with newspapers. If they reform, perhaps the electronic media will be forced to follow.
Over time, newspaper journalists developed a code of ethics and some newspapers went so far as to appoint an internal watchdog who would (among other things) try to ensure that fairness and balance and reporting news in an unbiased way was the goal. As the newspaper industry has consolidated, many papers have gone out of business, almost all have had their budgets decimated, and the industry has lost millions and millions of readers, the goal of balanced news reporting has been abandoned. These internal watchdogs (called ombudsmen) are basically all gone. The Leftward tilt has not been caused by losing these ombudsmen, but they are no longer present to be an internal critic of it.
The Leftist tilt isn’t a new phenomenon. As a former daily reader of the Boston Globe, I simply couldn’t stand its biased reporting and unbalanced editorial positions, so about 10 years ago I just stopped reading. Thousands more readers in New England and millions across the country doubtless felt the same way about their local biased newspapers, but the rise of the Internet and the change of the business model has left newspapers in a quandary. Do they continue their biased coverage and keep losing money and readers while continuing to advance their “mission” (which is to promote a Liberal agenda, issues, and candidates); or do they dedicate themselves to fair and unbiased coverage to perform this important journalistic function in our democratic society, and perhaps win back the trust and wide readership that they need to properly function?
The truth is that while current major dailies are doing a terrible job in presenting unbiased and balanced information to their subscribers, the remaining subscribers might not mind so much, since the papers are all preaching to the choir. Has this been one of the factors leading to the political polarization of our society? It may be. Or perhaps the newspaper’s bias, having seeped into the broadcast journalist realm, has been a bigger factor than we imagined since so many people watch the network news. After years of brainwashing, those who still trust the media believe that Democrats represent all that is good and just and Republicans are evil. That’s the message that the media has been sending for at least 20 years and their faithful viewers are totally on board with it by now. How else can one explain the rise of socialism, the apparently serious candidacy of Bernie Sanders, and recent polls of millennials showing that a large plurality are followers of this failed, discredited economic system?
Public Editor Press’s mission is to try to turn this tide. We will start in the Boston market, with our website focusing on New England’s premier daily paper, the Boston Globe. (We will perhaps delve into other large dailies as the site and concept develops further, especially if others join us to help.)
The problem with the Boston Globe is obvious to all of its critics and perhaps to regular readers as well. Our ideal should be a newspaper that has the resources to practice journalism, does an excellent job, and then presents its information in a balanced way, without trying to overtly or subtly influence the conclusions that a reader might draw from the news article. It might sound strange to professional journalists and their editors at the Boston Globe, but they do not have all the solutions, nor is it their job to provide them in their reporting. If readers needed to know what to think, they can turn to the editorial pages and read the propaganda pieces there. The “news” should be absolutely unbiased, period.
That brings us to the editorial pages themselves. We should not expect individual opinions to offer balance or be unbiased. That isn’t their function; instead, these opinion pieces are meant to sway readers to a particular point of view. The Globe is free to keep and promote their Liberal columnists. But for the paper’s operation to be fair, it must offer a balance of editorial opinions in equal measure. This means that for every column condemning Donald Trump, there must be one in praise. And again, this must be done honestly and the columnists must be selected in an unbiased manner. We don’t want Liberal Columnist One and “Never Trumper” Columnist Two debating about how awful Donald Trump is. That is a biased forum, purposely so, to promote the internal Globe agenda.
20 years (at least) of Boston Globe bias provides all the evidence we need not just of the problem, but the publishers’ and senior editors’ support and their belief that there is nothing inherently wrong with this. Management apparently feels that the Globe is performing their mission admirably, and are willing to take that belief to the bottom of the ocean as their ship sinks.
The Boston Globe needs to be saved from itself. The reason is simple: their journalistic mission must be preserved. In the new world of the Internet, we need good journalism, but it must be fair, balanced and impartial. With this in mind, everyone should work towards helping the Boston Globe regain its important place in our New England society by helping guide the paper towards balance. We don’t need a biased Boston Globe, we need a balanced Boston Globe, one that embraces true journalism to inform readers, present both sides of issues, and serves as a neutral and honest provider of news and opinions.
We call on Boston Globe readers (both current and former) to help us. If you no longer subscribe, help us by subscribing and providing feedback to the Globe about the job they are doing. Are their reporters being fair? Are some reporters better than others at achieving impartiality? Those reporters should be praised and encouraged, while those that continue to promote their personal agenda should find another line of work.
Editors who allow this biased nonsense to continue should be fired. We will ask reporters and editors to explain and justify biased or misleading information and perhaps by bringing these violations to light, they will become less and less common, and eventually disappear.
To that end, we invite readers to participate in our efforts. We will be looking for people to write commentary on columns or editorials they read in the Globe, to comment on posts we write, to read Globe articles and rate them for fairness, and for those outside of the Boston area, to help cover other daily newspapers in their local markets. I have not read every major daily paper, but the malaise infecting the Globe is certainly an epidemic even if it is not universal. So if your paper needs an “ombudsman” to help guide them to balance, contact us and perhaps you can help by being an Associate Public Editor in your local market.
We are not here to hurt the Boston Globe. We are here to help. And to do so, we need to show why balance is an asset for a journalistic organization, how it brings credibility and readers, and why engaging both (or several) sides of a public debate is much better than spouting a particular point of view to readers who already agree.
This will be a long work in progress, but I am going to get it started, and I welcome your ideas and feedback.
Publisher, Public Editor (MA)
President, Public Editor Press