America’s media is suffering from a truth deficit leaving many to wonder where to go for honest, reliable and accurate information. Unfortunately, it is not the mainstream or social media.
Last month Forbes magazine found for the first time, fewer than half of all Americans acknowledge any kind of trust of major media. The information was captured in Edelman’s annual trust barometer.
“Fifty-six percent of Americans, for example, said they agreed with the following statement: ‘Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations’,” Forbes added.
Social media is taking blows to the chin as well, with Americans’ trust ranked at only 27 percent for content found on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, Edelman added.
Edelman’s data comes on the heels of a Gallup Poll released last September which reveals that people’s trust in the mainstream media is continuing to erode with 60 percent of people saying they have no or little trust in it. And it is not just Republicans, independents and Democrats have trust issues with the media, Gallup found.
The lack of trust is bad for all of us. Edelman finds Americans are losing trust in leaders across every area of their lives — and the information coming from every source of their news.
Mistrust is worrisome and is worldwide. “Neither the U.S. or China have the trust capital they need to be global leaders in this time of multiple crises,” Edelman adds.
So, what’s the antidote for this poisonous environment given the fact that the rancid climate continues on the major television networks, large daily newspapers and over the internet?
The key is to find information which is verifiable and true — to watch unedited news which allows us to decide for ourselves. C-SPAN and its Washington counterpart, TVW, fit that model.
C-SPAN was created in 1979, when cable television was just beginning to emerge as a new technology for media broadcasting. It was designed to be a public service, to provide “gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congress without editing, commentary or analysis. Let viewers make up their own minds” was the guiding idea.
TVW was founded in 1993 and went on air in 1995. It offers the same unedited coverage of Washington state government, politics and public policy.
TVW was started and continues to operate on several founding principles: open access to government, in-depth and unedited nonpartisan beginning-to-end coverage of the state legislature; and, civics education.
TVW is especially important now because much of Washington’s state government, including the legislature, is closed to in-person transactions and contacts. It is virtual.
Washington is not alone going virtual, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Beginning in March 2020, one or both legislative chambers in at least 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands adopted measures to allow for remote committee and public meetings, or to allow for member participation and voting.
While the COVID pandemic closed the Capitol in Olympia, Washington legislature’s work continues. Major proposals, including a bill that would create a capital gains tax, are being considered. Citizens can watch the debate in real time and contact their legislators with input they developed themselves.
The measure, which is hotly contested, would impose a 7 percent tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other high-end assets — like a classic car or painting — in excess of $250,000 for both individuals and couples is ground breaking.
TVW offers viewers a ring-side seat so citizens can bring out their calculator and determine its impact for yourself. Isn’t self-determination how the process is supposed to work?
Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver, Wa. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.