You’re On a Need-To-Know Basis, And You Don’t Need to Know

What is “public safety journalism”? It is when the media trains itself on how to report on the news for the social good. Huh. Is journalism here to bring about change or to inform the public?

The Poynter Institute thinks it is the former. They have launched an initiative to train mainstream media outlets on purpose-driven journalism. The program aims to teach journalists to identify “the journalistic purpose behind stories about individual crimes, as well as stories about cops, courts and public safety.” Only then can they analyze and possibly change that purpose, says Poynter.

What they hint at here is pretty obvious: Are outlets over-covering one group or race of people over another? Are they leaving out things on purpose? But it’s not hard to see how this could lead to a cycle of censorship and creating a new narrative. We already see that happening as one extremist group gets a media pass (Antifa) over others (white nationalists).

News coverage of crime does not match the FBI statistics about crime in the U.S. Is the goal of this program to accurately represent crime or soften the representation of some groups?

This may be the media’s main problem: that it thinks of itself as an agent of change rather than a public service. This will not endear the already-eroding trust in the industry, is it?

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