The importance of fairness in the media – Chico Enterprise-Record

How about the nearly even, often virulent, ideological split of our community and our country as demonstrated in our local and national politics lately? What happened to “love thy neighbor”?

Can you remember when we, more often, entertained more than one side of a story? There used to be a “Fairness Doctrine” requiring broadcasters to provide time for opposing viewpoints. It was adopted by the FCC in 1949, and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1969. It was called the “most important requirement of media operation.” Ronald Reagan packed the FCC and in 1987 they threw it out.

Why should you care? For example, Fox reporters Steve Martin and Jane Akre researched bovine growth hormone (rBGH that’s been linked to cancer) used to stimulate milk production in cows. “They discovered that while the hormone had been banned in Canada, Europe, and most other countries, millions of Americans were unknowingly drinking milk from rBGH-treated cows.” Martin and Akre won a whistle blower judgment against Fox. “… jurors concluded [the journalists] were pressured by Fox to broadcast, a false story and were fired for threatening to blow the whistle.” Fox lawyers appealed, and the judgment was overturned with the remarkable words, “ It is not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news.” The U.S. has higher cancer rates than Canada and most of Europe. Important? You decide.

Get information from a source that doesn’t follow it with a slick advertisement. Support local newspapers and radio stations.

— Charles Withuhn, Chico



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