It time again to make New Year’s resolutions, but maybe, in addition to making our own, we might recommend some to others. For example, the mainstream media needs some resolutions, but, with the pressures of everyday news gathering, the editors and publishers may not have the time to make a complete list. So, as a public service, and with great respect for “the people’s right to know,” here is a recommended list for our major news organizations:

  1. WE THE NEWS MEDIA RESOLVE to acknowledge, both internally and to the public, that our industry’s current economic problems are due in substantial measure to our failure to deliver an acceptable product, and that many readers and viewers have lost faith in our integrity and objectivity.
  2. We resolve to be less arrogant, and to acknowledge that we often know only part of the story.
  3. We resolve to admit, finally, that we did slant our coverage during the last campaign, and we resolve never to do that again.
  4. We resolve to give our readers a fair, reasonable and dispassionate assessment of the last eight years, and acknowledge that we have not done so.
  5. We resolve to emphasize ideological diversity in our newsroom. We concede that we tend to hire people who think the way we do, and we resolve to break the habit.
  6. We resolve to refuse to hire, as reporters, applicants who are in journalism to “make a difference,” and to hire those who understand that their job is to report the news, fully and impartially.
  7. We resolve to deal, respectfully, with criticism of our performance over the last 40 years, especially our reporting of the Vietnam War. We resolve to re-examine that reporting and to give an honest assessment to our readers.
  8. We resolve to give full descriptions of newsmakers, regardless of their point of view. For example, we resolve to drop vague labels like “peace activist” and “human rights activist,” and give readers an honest description of where these people stand politically.
  9. We resolve finally to retire the term “McCarthyism,” or at least use it more responsibly. We acknowledge that the term has been used as a club for 50 years to suppress honest discussion of the political left. We acknowledge that it is not McCarthyism to describe a Marxist as a Marxist.
  10. We resolve to understand, and acknowledge, that we are Americans, and are not above our country. We acknowledge that we cannot demand First Amendment rights, then claim that we are above nationality.
  11. We resolve to listen more carefully to our readers and viewers, and to understand that we cannot tell people that they aren’t seeing what they actually see. In this connection, we acknowledge that there is expertise among our readers that we have often failed to respect.
  12. We resolve to vastly improve our reporting of education, and to tell our readers and viewers what is actually being taught to their children, including any ideological content.
  13. We resolve to admit, finally, that we are not the eyes and ears of the public; we are the eyes and ears of ourselves. We acknowledge that the public never elected us.
  14. We resolve to recognize that the gravity of the times requires a journalism that is thoroughly professional and independent, not a journalism rooted in an ideological frenzy.
  15. We resolve to resign and leave if we cannot accomplish most of these resolutions.

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