An Unbiased News Organization?

During this election cycle I’ve been reading and watching the news a lot more than I ever have before. In particular my interest in Politics, US, and World news has been at the forefront of my attention. I’ve been getting information from a variety of sources including large mainstream organizations such as NYTimes, NPR, AP, CNN, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Al Jazeera; smaller more niche organizations such as Vox, Mic, and BuzzFeed; social sources including Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter; and even directly from the organizations and individuals that the news is about via email newsletters and their other marketing/news channels.

The fundamental problem I’ve picked up from practically all of these sources is bias. Almost everyone and every organization seem to have an opinion, an agenda even, that they want to report in addition to the facts – some more obvious than others. Sometimes the facts are even left out, or cherry picked in such a way that further supports their bias. Don’t get me wrong – people and organizations are entitled to their opinions and to sharing them. I do that all the time, mostly on social media. But when I’m trying to find information so that I can form my own solid opinion about something, it is incredibly frustrating, polarizing, time consuming, and even difficult. That’s because the inherent bias that plagues all of my information sources erodes any amount of trust that I can build with those sources. Everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. There is plenty of opinion out there, but not nearly enough unbiased fact-based reporting. Which leaves me with the task of needing to read and watch three to 10 articles, dozens to hundreds of social media posts, and copious Googling before I feel like I’ve heard enough “from all sides” to form my own opinion.

What would be interesting would be a news organization that is formed and run in such a way that it minimized or eliminated bias. I’m not sure exactly how this could happen but my guess is it would look something like this: It would need to be a non-profit so that reporting could not be influenced or motivated by a financial bottom line. Nobody could “own” the organization and stand to benefit financially from its success or what/how it reported. It would need to have bylaws that ensured the organization was managed by and employed a diverse group of people that reflect the population. Eg: all age groups, races, genders, sexual orientations, nationalities, political ideologies, religions, industries, etc would need to be represented at all levels of the organization from the board of directors, to the managers, to the writers, to the reporters, to the interns. Each piece of content from tweets to headlines to photos to videos to text to quotes would need to be rigorously reviewed, edited, and approved for non-bias by a team of people representing “all sides”. A lexicon/style guide could be developed to help shape/enforce unbiased content. Content would not have to be purely fact based – it could include supporting/opposing points of view (such as opinion quotes) but these could only be included when they were properly balanced in number and strength – again this would have to be approved by the diverse team. Transparency would be key and the journalism process itself would be public. All authors/editors/reviewers of a piece of content would be listed in the meta information. The evolution of the content (the interviews, the drafts, the review notes, the edits, the approvals, and who was responsible for each) would all be publicly accessible like in Google docs. Perhaps even the audience could engage with and help create/edit the content like on Wikipedia, while it was reviewed and approved by the organization’s staff to ensure non-bias. Content could be a living document like Wikipedia – always changing and evolving to stay relevant, while older versions remain accessible. Commenting systems could be reimagined to promote intelligent and civil discussion rather than polarized debates. Content could be rated by the audience, giving a positive feedback loop to the the organization.

Unfortunately though I’m too busy for all this. Who wants to take it on?

A Future To Believe In

This year I’ve been the most politically active I’ve ever been. That’s because a man started a movement – a political revolution – that has resonated with me down to my core. His name is Bernie Sanders, and he is one of the most inspiring and genuine people I have ever come to know of. He is not only politically aligned with me as a progressive, but he deeply cares about the future of all of us and the planet. He is not corrupted by big money and special interests. He has been fighting his entire life for the greater good and has consistently been on the right side of history. His aim is to bring people together, not to divide them up.

He’s consumed me. Our campaign has consumed me. I’ve contributed financially 75 times, almost $2,000 in total. I’ve phone banked people all across the nation to talk to them about Bernie and his ideas. I’ve gone door to door in San Luis Obispo to make sure people know how and where to vote for Bernie. I have a yard sign in the front, I wear his shirt, and I have bumper stickers on my car, bike, and laptop. I post about him on social media almost daily and read all of his emails.

IMG_20160514_073704Bernie Sanders contributions

When I heard he was coming to speak in Santa Maria, I jumped on the opportunity. I waited for over three hours in the hot sun for him to arrive. Safe to say I was feeling the sunburn! He spoke for about an hour – his usual stump speech about income inequality, race and gender issues, making college tuition free, universal healthcare, and providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. I found myself finishing his sentences for him and knowing what was coming next, but I loved every bit of it. For the first time in my life, I was moved by someone speaking to me from a podium. I was so impressed and inspired by the vigor in his voice, the power of his ideas, and the momentum of the movement he sparked.




But what was the most impactful for me was how he talked about the future – how he knows that it is going to be brighter and more just for all of us and not just a few. At the rally standing right in front of me, there was a middle aged latino father with his daughter. I snapped this photograph of them:


Bernie Sanders and our movement gives me hope for this young girl – that she will have more opportunity than her father did. That she will be able to go to college if she works hard in school. That she will be able to go to the doctor when she is sick. That she will inherit a planet that is healthy and in harmony with humans. That she will be treated equally as a human being. That she too will have a future to believe in. I can’t wait to see where our revolution goes next. So here’s to the future, one vote at a time! #FeelTheBern