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Where is the Good News?

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What is left out of the news matters. On January 13, 2016, A bombing that Daesh took “credit” for killed seven people in Jakarta, Indonesia. CNN’s headline when I first checked read “Blast, Shootouts at Jakarta Starbucks”. For the average reader, this does not indicate a terrorist attack, but a squabble over lattes that got deadly.

The next morning, the BBC reported that four of the five perpetrators of the attack had been identified, and that all five had died in the blast. CNN had no followup report. The BBC report tells us two things 1) that all of the perpetrators are dead, and 2) that it wasn’t a particularly successful attack, as five of the seven dead were the people who caused the attack. The CNN followup allows readers to assume that the perpetrators were still out there, presumably planning to squabble over more lattes. (In fairness, CNN did change their headline to a more appropriate one, but the original one was up for several hours).

I work upwards of sixty hours a week, do social justice advocacy, and have family and community obligations. As much of a news junkie as I am, I have found in the last year that my Facebook feed, filled with fellow social justice advocates, news junkies, and writers as it is, is usually better at spotting stories with significant implications than CNN is. In fact, if I want news about the United States that is significant in the sense that it has far reaching implications, I often have to turn to news from foreign sources, including the BBC and Al Jezeera. This is even more true of international news that impacts the United States.

In addition, news about the United States is written to stress either its entertainment value or its shock value. I can’t even trust MSNBC or even Mother Jones (sometimes) or Democracy Now to give well balanced news, even though my political leaning is roughly the same as theirs. Too often they give passes to politicians that agree with them and stretch the truth about the flaws of other politicians — not as often as Fox, but too often.

This is unacceptable. When did the fourth estate become shallow, timid, flip? When did “deep reporting” move to the realm of small organizations like Democracy Now and Mother Jones, barely able to fund their research? Why aren’t we Americans crying out for good reporting — in depth, balanced, complete — instead of demanding to know one more factoid about a Kardashian?

There a lot of places to point fingers in this issue, but pointing fingers is not the answer. How can we get in depth reporting appreciated and funded again? What is a good way to curate the news so that people are getting a mix of entertainment and solid news that keeps them engaged and informed?

How else do you think we can improve the delivery of news, especially in depth and international news, in the US. What barriers are in the way?

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