Improving local journalism by improving training

Spencer Graves and Tom Crane discuss efforts to improve the quality and quantity of volunteer journalism with training and editorial assistance by a professional journalist.  Current plans consider this as a collaboration between Friends of Community Media and KKFI.


THE PROBLEM:  Progress on every substantive issue facing humanity today is blocked, because every countermeasure threatens someone with substantive control over the money for the media.  This works, because everyone prefers information and sources consistent with preconceptions.


The Washington Post says that democracy dies in darkness.   As the quality of news declines, voter participation declines, and the cost of government increases.

For example, research suggests that the US would be more prosperous with substantially less crime if we invested in quality child care from neonatal through at least age 17.  If we did, the children of the poor would learn more in school and earn so much more as adults that the increased tax revenues would pay for the investments with a handsome return.  Moreover, the average annual income adjusted for inflation (real Gross Domestic Product per capita) in 2010 was double what was in 1970 and is considerably higher today.  If you think we cannot afford this, I want to see your evidence, because those claims are contradicted by the evidence I’ve seen.

Also, the incarceration rate in the US today is 5 times what it was in 1975:  It was stable at roughly 0.1 percent of the US population from 1925 to 1975.  Then it shot up by a factor of five.  The explanation I’ve found most credible for that change was changes in the management policies of the mainstream commercial broadcasters to fire nearly all the investigative journalists and replace them with the police blotter.  The public thought that crime was out of control, when there had been no substantive change in crime. They elected a generation of politicians promising to get tough on crime.  This has not made us safer but has made us less prosperous.


The problem is getting dramatically worse:  In the past 15 years the US has lost a quarter of its newspapers and half of its newspaper journalists.


OUR ATTEMPTS TO FIGHT THIS TREND:  The Friends of Community Media are proposing to hire at least one professional journalist to design and manage a program for training volunteers to collaborate in producing professionally edited news that could be broadcasted on KKFI and carried by other local news outlets.


For more information, contact Spencer {dot} Graves <at> EffectiveDefense [dot] org, Secretary, Friends of Community Media.

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