By Tom Ehrich
When political scoundrels lie and citizens get confused by the blizzard of deceptions, it makes you appreciate the value of a free and independent press, staffed by wise reporters who know how to check facts, sift through falsehoods and blather, and present balanced coverage.
As daily newspapers die or shrink and aren’t replaced, our freedom becomes imperiled. An election grounded in lies and determined by whose lies are the most persuasive won’t end well for America.
I am all for an informal army of bloggers, Tweeters and Facebook posters, who are “crowd-sourcing” the news. Every day on Facebook, for example, I read posts that correct falsehoods told on the campaign trail and in Super-PAC advertising.
I have to believe that such posts will undo the damage that liars are eager to do. No one of them will reach as many in one sitting as a dishonest attack ad. But the word will eventually get out.
Even so, I think we need to invent a new daily press. The old paradigm – each city and town with a daily print newspaper, most drawing excellent news coverage from wire services like the Associated Press – has died. I get that. It stopped working. But the need for fair and free coverage hasn’t gone away.
News magazines and news aggregators for mobile devices are a start. Serious web media like Huffington Post, The Atlantic and web news from the nation’s best newspapers are vitally important. We who use them should be willing to pay for them.
Instead of chasing incremental improvements in online games and credit transactions, I’d like to see young technologists tackle something that matters, namely, providing the free press that a democracy needs in order to survive.