Facts seem to be in vogue.
They’ve always been in style at many newspapers, magazines and other outlets, but are now being prominently touted in some places as critics disparage what they see as undeclared advocacy reporting in some quarters.
• The AP About Us page is headlined “Advancing the power of facts.”
“The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting,” says the description of the service.
•“COVID-19 is crushing newspapers, worsening hunger for accurate information,” reads a recent headline from Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
• “WGN America launches primetime newscast with a promise: Just the facts,” read a recent Deadline headline. “Nexstar Media Group’sNewsNation is factbased, unbiased national newscast airing nightly at 8/7 p.m. CT onWGN America,” says the description of the new cable channel, which launched Sept. 1.
The story has details about the hand-wringing at NewsNation rehearsals over the meaning of one word, “embattled,” the kind of mini-dramas that have gone on over decades in newsrooms that aim for objectivity. Deadline says WGN America has brought on two editors and is working with rhetoricians to look out for bias.
• On Sept. 30, CNBC planned to launch “The News with Shepard Smith,” a nightly newscast providing “deep, non-partisan coverage,” says the channel. The channel touts Shepard Smith’s “trademark devotion to speed, accuracy and the trust of his audience.”
• Sinclair Broadcast Group is launching a headline news service to premiere in early 2021. The service will primarily focus on “commentary-free content” provided by Sinclair’s network of local broadcast stations and will also offer original content produced for the program, says a news release on the effort.
In addition to the main anchor, the service will feature a LIVE Desk. “This will provide audiences with an informative look at the day ahead in real time, giving them the facts to help determine what to anticipate with developing stories,” says the release. In recent years, Sinclair has seen headlines such as this, from the New Yorker: “The growth of Sinclair’s conservative media empire.”
• Factorium.com is an K12 educational platform that highlights the usefulness of facts. A number of TV stations and newspapers have linked with the program over the years. (Disclosure/fact: the managing editor of this publication runs Factorium.)
Results of a Gallup/Knight Foundation study released Sept. 10 say six in seven Americans think there is at least a fair amount of political bias in news coverage in general, and over half say the same of the news source they rely on most. Yet 69% of Americans say they are more concerned about bias in the news other people consume than its presence in their own news (29%).
A cursory check of comments on a story about the WGN effort shows that some people are skeptical about the human mind’s ability to deliver non-biased, “fact-based” journalism. They think bias is inevitable.
Whether or not non-biased news is possible, one wonders, does it sell? Time will tell