The job of the press in Kansas has become more and more challenging. Many of our newspapers here in Kansas have been bought up by wealthy and often right wing thinkers, with little or no interest in informing the public, and there is now less communication with citizens. These newspapers have smaller budgets and there are fewer and fewer quality investigative reporters doing research and writing on topics the public needs to know about. We’ve gone from a time when individual editors of Kansas newspapers were prominent, influential, and played a significant role in politics and civic life, to a time now where few, if any, have that kind of involvement at all.
I find it concerning how frequently one story totally dominates the national television news. This singular focus is understandable when an event like 9-11 occurs. But when a hurricane takes total—and I mean total—control of the daily television news, what all are we missing that could have made a difference? An informed electorate is basic to the workings of democracy. I know and understand that there will always be a lead story that does call for significant coverage, but we live in a very dangerous world with many major issues that should not be ignored.
The current effort to investigate our President should make the news and significant time should be spent on this, but not totally at the expense of coverage of other key issues. As an example of one concern that gets little or no coverage, I would suggest to increase reporting of our growing national debt, about why it has and continues to grow, as well as how close we are to a real catastrophe. Climate change is another. On those issues, the lack of coverage allows almost all of our elected officials to hide behind the American people’s unawareness that a crisis is looming. Coverage of such issues just might make a difference if the public was educated and then had the opportunity to press our elected officials for responsible action.
Only PBS and NPR cover a broad swath of the news as well as from an educational point of view. It is standard on each of these newscasts that several key issues of the day are brought to the American people in a balanced and very educational format. Naturally, this is the program that right wing Republicans want to try cripple by taking away all federal funding, which will make it more difficult for the public to be truly informed.
In fairness to the press, it is probably as much our responsibility as it is theirs. We, as responsible citizens, need to possess critical thinking, look for and be supportive of the variety of news sources available, and follow a mix that provides us with different points of view. No one media source has all the correct information, and seeing and hearing different perspectives only puts us in a much more informed position to truly be engaged, informed, and voting citizens of this great country.