Calling all media critics! Public Editor – Massachusetts is looking for volunteers to help us provide public criticism of the Boston Globe (and soon, other daily newspapers and broadcasters) to help them become less biased and more balanced.
The Globe has become a partisan participant in our political system, not an independent voice practicing journalism for the benefit of all of the citizens. As a private entity not controlled by the government, this is its right. But by taking this action, it has lost roughly half the population who disagree with its agenda and no longer trust its reporting. In our opinion, biased journalism practiced under the guise of independent journalism is a sham. And the Boston Globe has been guilty of this shame for many years, long before the coming of Donald Trump. But President Trump, to his credit, has been the first leader to publicly call out the “mainstream media” for this bias.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons by our society has become so polarized. Our “trusted” information sources are no longer trustworthy, so many people rely on untrustworthy sources. As New England’s largest media organization, the Boston Globe has become one of these untrustworthy sources, not much better than what one could find in an Internet search for news. Young people today no longer read newspapers, not just because they can get their information from social media newsfeeds, but also because the “adults” have ceded the important democratic function of journalism to actors who have perverted the practice.
Liberals used to protect the right of free speech. We all know how this concept is now alien on college campuses and public schools, but the concept of allowing both sides to freely debate issues and ideas is central to our democracy. Likewise, having an unbiased press that does not take sides is just as critical. Individuals can have their opinions and be free to announce them, but the media is able to amplify those voices so that many more can hear them. The media also has the resources to do the in-depth research and reporting that individuals standing on their soapbox cannot. But once the media becomes biased, many people will no longer listen or trust anything they have to say. And this leads (as we have now seen) to a breakdown in the news-gathering industry. Like judges, newspapers must be unbiased in their news coverage and balanced in their political opinions and advice. Newspapers are run by individuals and we are all imperfect, but perfection should be the goal and reporters and editors should be striving towards that goal every day.
To be trustworthy, the Globe needs to present its news unbiasedly. This means that reporters cannot be using news articles to push an agenda, and editors need to make sure the gate remains closed to those attempts. Reporters that keep trying to push an agenda favoring a particular point of view, a specific candidate, or a political party or movement should be terminated, period. If a reporter cannot present their “news” free of bias, they cannot properly do their job. And if the reporter prefers a mission of biased reporting and opinion, then they can be an opinion columnist or publish their views on their own local blog. But the gates of a true journalistic enterprise must be closed to such reporters. An editor’s job is to maintain this impartiality. A newspaper ombudsman’s job is to enforce and bring consequences when such impartiality manages to slip through the cracks.
Which brings us to Public Editor – MA. Our goal is to reform the Boston Globe, stop the biased political reporting, have balance in the editorial opinions that are run, and make the Globe an impartial and trusted observer of the news and political happenings in the area, the country, and the world. Let others take these facts and try to push an agenda or public policy. That isn’t a job for the Boston Globe, not if it wants to practice unbiased journalism.
If the Globe is able to reform itself, then maybe readers will come back, finances will improve, and its journalistic enterprise can expand and maybe result in greatness again. But if the Globe persists in promoting a Liberal agenda, its credibility will continue to erode, subscribers will continue to leave, and the general public will be forced to rely on other media sources which do not uphold true journalistic standards. And our democracy will suffer as a result.
We are going to be acting like an ombudsman, or Public Editor, for the Boston Globe (but obviously have no official connection). And those who share in our concerns and goals are welcomed to join us. There are many ways you can volunteer your time, from registering your opinions by rating Globe articles for bias, by posting comments to our commentary, or by becoming Assistant Public Editors in charge of reviewing other Massachusetts or New England daily papers and shining a spotlight on their coverage for bias and balance.
If you are interested in helping us, consider making a donation. All donations will be used to support this mission.
We also accept all ideas and suggestions. Send us an email. This is a work in progress and we expect to be making many changes and improvements over the coming months. Your feedback would be welcomed.
If you would like to register to post comments or to take our article surveys, please do. Those who are interested in writing commentary pieces should contact Associate Public Editor Allen Nitschelm at [email protected]. We will allow those with journalistic backgrounds to be writers or media critics. For now, all such positions are on a volunteer basis, but if we do get contributions or funding, we will consider having modest stipends for this work.