You’d be hard pressed to find somebody happy with the state of American news media, but it usually seems like there isn’t anything for us to do about it. Multnomah County Democrats want to change that.
At the 2020 Platform Convention this November, one of the most exciting prospects is a new section on the integrity of our news media.
Ethan Scarl and Neil Goodman drafted a list of proposed planks, which they presented at the August 3rd Pre-Platform Convention meeting. Some of the items on their list are likely familiar, such as the consolidation of so many news outlets into the hands of so few companies, fully funding public broadcasting, diversifying the perspectives and opinions in our media, the proliferation of hate speech, and how to tackle the epidemic of “news that is intentionally false.” They also suggested a forward-thinking plank to protect investigative reporting by compensating media for lost advertising revenue, allowing media outlets to bite the hand that feeds them if that hand really deserves to be bitten.
“Corporate ownership of news has been a problem for decades, with many towns trapped under media monopolies, but the 2016 election proved that we’re in a full blown crisis,” Ethan Scarl said, adding, “American voters didn’t send Trump to the White House. Disinformation campaigns and corporate media did.”
Adding an article on media integrity to the Multnomah County Democratic Party’s platform is a pretty big deal. All articles have ongoing study groups, giving a critical focus on news media an official home within the Party. It lets our elected officials know that we want the issue to be a regular part of our political discussions, makes it easier to advocate for legislation, and gives us a strong footing to write resolutions.
Despite the issue’s obvious urgency and public dissatisfaction, media issues are not usually tackled head on by political parties. “We care about media” is common, but “We care about media in the same way we care about education and healthcare and the economy” is not. This November, Multnomah County Democrats will take that stand.
(Full disclosure: Ethan Scarl is the author’s father.)