Let's Restore Real Reporting Back to News .......... (The Non-reporting of Long v WSI is Just the Tip of the Iceberg)

November 18, 2010

I spent the past two and one half weeks covering the whistleblower trial of James Long v State of North Dakota.  The reason I came to Bismarck (where I graduated from high school) to do this was because I became aware of intense local interest in this story.  Indeed, my website has gotten thousands of people reading it since I began this coverage. 
Yesterday, the jury rendered its verdict, and decided Mr. Long had not engaged in whistleblowing activities. (Please scroll below for full coverage.)  

As of this morning, I cannot find a single North Dakota "news" organization which is even mentioning the trial.  That, to me, is the single most disturbing aspect of this entire ordeal.  

For the record, I am a news person.  For more than twenty years, I have worked for CBS, PBS, and FOX television networks, and I've worked for NPR.  I write oped pieces on occasion for McClatchy News, and I frequently post opeds on the national blog, Huffington Post.   I have awards for news reporting from Associated Press, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, the Public Radio News Directors, and I have two Emmys to my credit.  Remember a few weeks back when there was a PR blitz about not flushing your prescription drugs down the john?  That advice came as a result of an EPA study that was conducted over a ten year period starting in 1999.  That study was conducted as a result of a national news story I did in 1998.   

I didn't have a horse in the Long v WSI race.  I don't know Mr. Long, and I don't know the defendants at WSI.  I tried to provide the most complete and unbiased coverage about this trial to the state of North Dakota that I could.  That's what reporters are supposed to do:  report the facts and let the chips fall where they may.

But the fact that local media ignored this story completely is telling.  It tells me they either have so few resources that they can no longer assign reporters to report on real local news, or it tells me they had their own bias, and chose to hush this story up. 

Either way, it's a sad day for We the People who depend on the press to shine a light on government affairs.

So, today, people of North Dakota, I am asking for your help in restoring real accountability to the news and to the government.  I am asking for your help in restoring facts to reporting, and to defining a clear line between news and opinion.  

There are two things I'm asking you to do.  First, take a bit of time to understand what's happened to our news over the past thirty years.  Let me please refer you to a story I did a few weeks back called 
"Why Did Donna Brazile Use the F-Word in Oprah's Magazine?  Hint: Rush Limbaugh"I've provided a ling to the Huffington Post version of the story, but you can find it on my blog, and this one became so popular it even hit Forbes.  It links to much of the writing I've done on this topic over the past year.

You'll also notice a link in the upper left corner of this website, which invites people to host screenings of Broadcast Blues.  Broadcast Blues is a film I made which connects the dots as to why our media has gone awry, and what We the People can do to take our media back.   The film has not been available for public screenings until just this week - a happy coincidence, I think!    

Will you please host a screening of this film?  Maybe in your local church or library, or maybe just in your living room.  There are many North Dakota stories in this film, but please understand that the implications are national.  Why is the country so divided?  Why do we shout at each other rather than listen to each other?  Why are facts being trivialized?  Why are news organizations ignoring real news - like the Long V ND trial?

I spent the past two and a half weeks on the WSI trial; I spent the past thirteen years on the larger issue of the media.  So how about it, North Dakota, will you work with me to really make a difference in this great country?

Thanks, North Dakota, I've enjoyed my time being back in my home state.   Special thanks to Chad Nodland over at NorthDecoder.com for his help in these past weeks and his commitment to bringing sunshine to North Dakota fifty two weeks a year.


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