Does The World Need Another Political Blog?

Posted by | Filed under Uncategorized | Sep 1, 2011 | Tags: |


The internet has transformed the way in which Americans access information. According to a Pew Research Center report[1], “more people continue to cite the internet than newspapers as their main source of news.”

This trend brings with it several positives: a diverse spectrum of sources, varied points of view, and in depth coverage of issues that may or may not be addressed by the traditional news media. Unfortunately, with the good, comes the bad. Internet news sources often do not have the accountability or professional standards of their traditional news media counterparts. This trend is especially concerning considering how often television, radio, and newspapers are interspersed with bias, mistruths, and outright lies – and they’re supposed to be the reputable ones. It raises the question: how do you know who to trust?

It is impossible to track down and verify the accuracy of every source of every claim. “Facts” are rarely sourced, and are frequently invented for convenience. It is not the standard among mainstream news sources, new media, and traditional media included, to cite sources beyond the occasional mention: “experts say…” or “a new study proves…” or the more specific, but not much more helpful: “researchers at Stanford have found …”

What experts? What was the context? Who funded the study? Why is the conjecture of a single expert weighed so heavily in cable news, rather than consensus? A simple explanation: it is easier and more entertaining to talk to a guest. A more nefarious explanation: it is easier to push an agenda. Whatever the reason(s), the result is the same: that the news consumer is only exposed to a single, often biased, and almost always condensed opinion that may or may not reflect beliefs of the majority of experts.

"Thanks for having me!"

"Thanks for having me!"

“But what about when they invite a panel of guests? Surely then we’re exposed to both sides of an issue.” Panels are often just as bad as, or even worse than a single expert guest. Panel discussions create an environment that implicitly asserts simplistic dichotomies wherein the arguments are presented as if there are only two perspectives which each have a 50% chance of having merit. This atmosphere encourages petty squabbling, where the guests duke it out with insubstantive sound bites and ad hominem attacks on each other. This is probably great for ratings, but not much more useful or informative than a Jerry Springer episode, or WWE match.

They are always moderated by the host who invariably interrupts the discussion after 45 to 60 seconds with the familiar phrase: “I’m going to have to stop you right there. We’re all out of time. We have eight seconds before commercial break. I’ll give you the last word.”

24 hour news networks, on a typical day, will waste your time by stretching out relatively minor news stories to fill the entire day and night, but when it comes to debates on complex matters, they allot a very small amount of time which is divided roughly as so: about a third of the time introducing the guests, a third yelling over each other because of artificial time limitations, and the last third thanking the guests for coming.

“Thanks for having me!”

Blogs do not seem to be subject to the same sorts of rating grabbing techniques, however they are subject to a different, perhaps equally damaging phenomenon: lack of accountability. Traditional news media sources still dance the dance. Whether you agree, or not, FOX News totes the tagline “Fair and Balanced,” and they make an effort to appear so. The same could be said for the vast majority of mainstream news sources.

Newspapers still profess to report on the facts. You still encounter retractions, and corrections. There is still an air of accountability that mainstream news sources abide by. Web-based news sources, however, are not bound by such strict journalistic standards.

That is not to say that there are not good, reputable journalists out there. They exist on radio, television, print, and the internet, but it is difficult to find them, and we desperately need more of them.

For Make America Fair’s inaugural first post, we would like to introduce our philosophy:

We believe that the current state of public discourse in the United States is mostly broken.

Make America Fair aims to be the premier resource for in depth, accurate, objective, researched commentary on current national happenings. We will accomplish this by adhering to the highest standards of journalistic integrity.

We will not engage in perpetuating sensationalist, but relatively inconsequential stories that tend to overwhelm the mainstream media, and obscure what is really important.

We intend to even out the playing field – to Make America Fair.


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