Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not-So-Fairness Doctrine

You, dear blog readers, need to know a little about me... well, at least about my sources of news & information on the Web & on the radio.

When trying to stay current via the Internet, I click my way over to:
And, yes, that does give me a bit of virtual whiplash... but it's on purpose. We'll get to more on that in a minute.

When I'm out driving around in my car, I turn my radio dial to:
  • KMJ 580 AM (Fresno-based talk radio, which carries Rush Limbaugh & Sean Hannity among others)
  • KVPR FM 89 (Fresno-based National Public Radio, home of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation... and the most important news program out there, Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! OK, so maybe WWDTM isn't the most important... but it's certainly the most fun.)
  • 105.9 JACK FM (which is actually just music & no news... but I figured I needed to come clean about my addiction to classic rock)

Again with the whiplash... and here's why. (I'm going to be forced to reference Extreme here, which will cause some of you to run screaming from the room. Don't worry, I won't be forcing you to watch the "Hole-Hearted" video... though I'm a thoughtful guy so I'll put the MTV link for in the post.)

Their next album, III Sides To Every Story, was divided into (wait for it) 3 different sections: Yours, Mine, and The Truth. Which is kind of how I see my encounters with the news media...the truth is somewhere in the middle of this mess.

Which is why I'm completely and utterly opposed to the reinstatement of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine. This less-than-brilliant bit of policy making was chucked overboard (thankfully) back in 1987... yet here we are 22 years later with those in power interested in bringing it back from the dead like some kind of weird zombie movie.

Simply put, the Fairness Doctrine requires opposing viewpoints to be presented by media outlets (holders of broadcast licenses) in an attempt to achieve "balanced" coverage. In practice, it means that TV & radio stations avoid controversial topics because of the potential regulatory fallout.

Religious broadcasters face the same kind of problems under the Fairness Doctrine - esp. since they deal with controversial topics where their viewpoint (pro-life, for example, or believing that sex outside of marriage is a sin) is not culturally mainstream. And while all media is "listener-supported" at some level (by advertising), much of Christian radio is listener-supported from donations to the station or the ministry... which would force people to pay directly for viewpoints they disagree with if "equal time" provisions were reenacted.

I'm living proof that the current system allows me access to the conservative thought (and rantings) of Rush Limbaugh as well the left-leaning reportage & commentary (and occasional rantings, though in soft, soothing voices) of NPR. Please don't squash this in a misguided attempt to force a false dialogue on the broadcasters & the American people.


Chris said...

I have no idea what your post was really about. Once I started listening to Extreme, I couldn't focus on anything else. They jam. And yes, I'm serious. If you want me to pay attention next time, pick a less awesome band, like the Moody Blues. :)

Nord said...

Great Post! I too like both NPR and Fox News as schizophrenic as that may seem to other people. Of course I like Extreme too perhaps i'm a bit wierd.

The Fairness Doctrine is an attack on free speech plain and simple. Thanks for raising the issue.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy listening to Left, Right, and Center on KCRW. They give a great analysis of major political issues from a variety of viewpoints.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Chris: No hating on the Moody Blues!

Nord (aka Jeremy): You spell "weird" weird. Otherwise, we agree - on the Fairness Doctrine, schizo news watching & Extreme.

Jeff: "Left, Right & Center" is probably my least favorite news program on NPR... It feels more like "Really Left, Left, Iconoclastic for the Sake of Publicity (Ms. Huffington) & Just Right of Center".

Anonymous said...

I suppose the definition of center is somewhat relative; however, I do think that those on the far end of either side tend to place center a bit closer to their own ideals than it may actually be.

Sort of like the passenger mirror on your vehicle. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Any time the government gets involved it almost always makes things worse.

As Einstein said, "Any government is in itself an evil in so far as it carries within it the tendency to deteriorate into tyranny."

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Jeff Myers: I think my biggest problems with LCR (not the dice game!) are that the guy in the center isn't and Arianna Huffington is given a platform at all.

Ah, well, at least I get to listen to Car Talk & The Chef's Table. (It's weird - I'm not even a fan of haute cuisine & wine but I'm fascinated in learning about that world.)

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Jeff... re: "govt makes stuff worse"

Key piece of evidence: the US Post Office