If you have a background in journalism and want to make a difference in helping the “mainstream media” reform itself, we are looking for leaders in major media markets around the country to be Associate Public Editors. These are volunteer, unpaid positions for now, but if you are able to develop your area, we will look for local or regional funding in the future to support your efforts.
The work is straightforward: Read the main stories and editorial opinions in your daily paper, and rate them. If you already read this paper, it would probably only take an extra hour per day to do the data input and commentary for any biases you see in the news articles. If and when you feel a particular article or editorial column merits extra attention, you can do a longer piece and post it as a blog on the homepage. These longer pieces will get public comments and we would encourage you to interview reporters and editors to incorporate their perspective in your posts.
The goal is to improve these regional daily papers by helping them see specifically how they are biased. The goal is to give these publications feedback from both you and the public as to the job they are doing in maintaining the journalistic goals of unbiased reporting and balanced editorial opinions. Your writing and reporting, along with your readers’ feedback, should prove helpful in improving the ethical guidelines used by these publications in their future work. So your criticism should be constructive, with specific instances of biased reporting, facts that are untrue or not supported by evidence, sources whose biases are not revealed, unreported or unethical conflicts of interest, etc. We hope when serious charges are made, that you will give the reporters and editors the opportunity to respond and perhaps publish corrections if warranted. Eventually, you will use the tools of journalism itself–shining a light on the industry and allowing public opinion of the newspaper’s readers and advertisers to affect how it chooses to cover its news and enforce its own journalistic practices.
Ultimately, with a less biased publication and balanced editorial opinions, newspapers can repair the self-inflicted damage and restore confidence to the public…and hopefully these papers can then regain many of the readers they have lost along the way.
Journalism is an important and noble profession, but only if it is practiced correctly. Reporters need to do their work without an underlying and undisclosed agenda. And if they have such an agenda, then write opinion pieces, not news articles. Editors need to be a second line of defense against biased and unbalanced reporting. If newspapers lose the confidence of the public and instead seek to support a particular political agenda, they lose all credibility and become part of the political problem, used by one side and untrusted by the other. We need to restore journalism as a check on our democracy and a way to keep our politicians honest, but that is not possible when the profession is widely seen as taking sides.
If this sounds like a mission you wish to be part of, send us an email and resume and we will talk. You can email President Allen Nitschelm at PublicEditorMA@gmail.com.
We are also very much a work in progress. We welcome your ideas and feedback for our sites and defining our role as ombudsmen or public editors for the media.