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Port: Local media should speak up about national media problems

If we told our public that we see the same problems they do, that they make us disappointed and angry too, it would go a long way toward drawing the important distinctions between the local/regional news media and the national press corps that should have existed all along.

Rob Port column sig
Rob Port
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — One of the chief concerns for those of us working in the news business is the decline in public trust in the news media.

This gets overstated at times. Criticism is always louder than praise, and the critics aren't always rigorously honest in their critiques. What angers them, often, isn't something that's inaccurate, or unethically reported, so much as a news item that leaves them upset. They're shooting the messenger, in other words, and in their pique will often claim that they're not going to read anymore, or they're going to cancel their subscription, but they'll inevitably turn up in the conversation again a few weeks hence.

Still reading. Still subscribed.

So it goes.

Still, public statements of mistrust in media, even as we fight a maelstrom of misinformation from the political and social media spheres, should concern everyone who works in the news media.

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READ MORE FROM ROB PORT

  • Plain Talk: Studying misinformation, and a homophobic attack from a state lawmaker Listen to this episode of Plain Talk below, or subscribe on your favorite podcasting service.

  • Port: There are conservative 'grifters' in North Dakota, too My fellow conservatives, we have to cut these people out of the movement. We have to wake up. Not only are the grifters harming our movement, but by extension, they're enabling the progressives.

  • Port: Would four-day work weeks ... work? Employers can't give employees more, while getting less, without there being some cause-and-effect ripples across our economy. We're already grappling with inflation, and this push could exacerbate that problem. Which isn't necessarily an argument against it. If we're going to contemplate this - and that ship has sailed already, I think - then we need to be thinking about the costs.

There is much debate as to what can be done.
I have an idea.

Often we who work in local media find ourselves on the hook for the conduct of those who work in the national news media. The public tends to see "the media" as a monolith. They don't see a lot of daylight between the local newspaper and, say, MSNBC .

It doesn't matter that this is unfair; that's how it is.

Local media should do something about it.

If we don't want to be on the hook for the excesses of some cable news network, or the indiscretions of a national tabloid, we should speak up.

Take the recent debacle with disgraced former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo , who should have been fired the first time it came to light that he'd been helping his politician brother, disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo , try to find a path out of a forest of scandals.

Many in our audience look at that situation and say to themselves, "You just can't trust the media." And when they say "media" they mean us, too.

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We need to inform that opinion. We need local editorials, local statements from local news producers, condemning these national media scandals.

I'm imagining the rebuttals coming from the region's editors and producers who will say that these scandals aren't our beat. They aren't in our area. They aren't our business.

But they are. They impact our business. We, unfairly, get lumped in with them.

If we told our public that we see the same problems they do, that they make us disappointed and angry too, it would go a long way toward drawing the important distinctions between the local/regional news media and the national press corps that should have existed all along.

In much the same way that good cops speaking up about bad cops can help bolster trust in law enforcement, good journalists having something to say about bad journalists can help rebuild, and fortify, the faith we've earned from our audiences.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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