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A Free Press Needs an Advocacy Program

Journalists need a good advocacy program, some serious public relations efforts to remind people why journalism is important, why a free press is so essential. Here are some suggestions that aim to inform the public and change their attitude toward the press:

1. Fact checking:

Why doesn’t the New York Times and other newspapers make it clear front and center what they do to verify facts?

o Make it clear that there are multiple sources and statistics are always backed up.

o Make public the number of people whose sole job it is to check the facts.

o Make more prominent the relationship between newspapers and fact-checking organizations.

o Spell out the fact that journalists are not allowed to vote, protest, and remind people of how much they give up because of their work on our behalf in the name of truth.

o Let’s develop a way that it’s easy to compare publication to publication, some chart almost like calories on a package of food. PolitFact ranking of X vs. Fox News ranking of Y

2. And speaking of truth, I encourage us all to refuse to call this the “post-truth era” as if normalizing it.

3. Teach us how to check:

Why not write an article that is evergreen/stays on the web all the time that explains to people how to check the accuracy of the piece they are reading? Or how to research the organization that is offering information/newspapers, blogposts and shows etc. And how to trace a Facebook post to its origin etc.

4. Halftime show for journalists:

If I had the money I would buy time during NFL, NHL, basketball and golf televised events, to do a salute to journalists. Perhaps it would go something like this:

“Ladies and gentlemen please stand and remove your caps for one of the three pillars of democracy, people whose work upholds one of the most important checks against force, authority, and greed.

An important type of first responder, in war, in disaster, in complex issues and dark corners that others don't want you to see. We salute journalists…Because the combination of one person-one vote, freedom of assembly, and a free press are the pillars on which democracy rests. To the objective, free press, we say ‘Thank you for your work.” [People have become so jaded about journalism that I think it would be an effective tactic to not mention the word “journalist” until late in the presentation.]

In a better world I think it would be reasonable to the list and/or show photos of all of the journalists who have been killed this year but I'm hesitant to mention that journalist have been killed for fear it will encourage Americans to shoot journalists. Sad state of American affairs.

Anyone else have ideas here? I’ll add to this as I think of things…

#freepress #journalism #NewYorkTimes