Addicted to novelty since 2001

Independent World TV

Tom sent along a link to Independent World Television, who has a grand plan to create “the world’s first global independent news network”. That sounds a lot like WikiNews, but the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned. Here’s the blurb:

We need a news and current affairs network that defends the public interest and the highest standards of journalism. Independent World Television will be such a network, a non-profit broadcast service financed by viewers across the globe–independent of corporate or government funding and commercial advertising.

They’ve got an informative short video about their idea. The video demonstrates a strong liberal bias–it’s full of left-wing pundits, they demonize FOX News, and their finance show is called ‘Follow the Money’. Their blog applauds Jon Stewart and has an anti-corporate slant.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I still think journalistic objectivity is worth aspiring for. Shouldn’t the world’s first global independent news network strive for unbiased reportage? These guys haven’t posted their first story yet, but already I fear they’re going to be as left-wing as FOX News is right-wing.

So, IWTV, I ask you: what are your politics? Do you value objectivity? What safeguards will you have in place to ensure balanced reporting? I support your effort, but I think these are important questions. If you want my $50, I’d be curious about the answers.

11 Responses to “Independent World TV”

  1. Matt @ IWTnews

    It’s funny you raise these issues, because yesterday we were discussing the need to better answer the very questions you raise here. They’re good questions and they’ve been coming up a lot, and they ought to appear in some form in our FAQ.

    I’ll write a proper post on this in our blog by Friday. In the interim, I would say that our Founding Committee represents a start, and only a start. We recognize the need for more diversity on the Committee in various forms — including reaching out to more Conservatives, which we’re already doing.

    Thanks for the feedback — this is exactly the kind of debate the network needs.

  2. JohnB

    Journalistic objectivity is a desired, but mostly elusive, quality.

    Editorial objectivity is an oxymoron. No matter how factual and good the story is, the placement rarely has anything to do with those attributes.

    Many will argue that point but compare the front page of a down-market ‘tabloid’ (the Sun) with an up-market ‘broadsheet’ (the Globe) — I’ve used the phrase ‘tabloid’ and ‘broadsheet’ because the Thunderer now publishes in tabloid format but is hardly a ‘tabloid’.

  3. jd

    i agree with JohnB, and want only to add what i think is the interesting history behind the idea of “objective” reporting, where a balanced (both sides) view is presented.

    basically, newspapers started out as being obvious in their politics, which was great because you knew what you were buying and who you were buying it from. the problem, though, was not with “truth” or ‘balance,” but with profit. in order to get a larger readership, papers started to pass themselves off as balanced and suitable for everyone (with money to buy the paper). journalistic whatever was not the driving force behind objective reporting, money was.

    nowadays, though, i think most shoot for fair, not balanced, because balanced is hard to find. and, a lot of the time, the idea that there are two sides to every story is just stupid and/or dangerous.

    if i write a story about nasa, should i include some flat-earthers, too? what about global warming? i think the public is still unclear about how real global warming is because media want to be balanced, so there is many times a quote included in stories from some right-wing think tank saying we shouldn’t worry and just keep on buying suv’s.

    i look forward to friday.

  4. James Burns

    Well Darren, I think you should define what you consider “objective journalism”, because you seem to be confusing it with the notion of “balance”. You also provide a list of accusations for liberal bias, but provide no supporting evidence beyond the assertions of “demonize FOX News”, “full of left-wing pundits”, and “applauds Jon Stewart and has an anti-corporate slant”. This is what is normally referred to as framing an issue. In fact, you seem to have a significant bias of your own, but you hide it behind an attack. I know you perhaps don’t want to spend the time backing up your assertions, but then why should anyone bother paying any attention to your opinions?

  5. Darren

    Several people are correct, I think, in saying I’m seeking balanced reporting more than objectivity (though I still think the latter is a good thing).

    James: Here’s the evidence I cited for fears of a strong liberal bias:

    * Exclusively (as far as I could figure) left-wing pundits in their video
    * Video demonizes FOX News
    * Blog supports Jon Stewart
    * Blog has an anti-corporate stance
    * Finance show is called “Follow the Money” (a term that often accompanies corporate mis-use of funds)

    I think that’s backing up my assertion. Clearly we disagree on this point. Clearly I’m not alone, because a member of the IWT team (Matt) indicated that “these questions are coming up a lot”.

    I don’t know that IWT has produced much actual news yet, but their site doesn’t give me confidence in balanced reporting.

  6. Sunil Bhargava

    Here is what I had posted as a comment on the IWT blog. I love the discussion…

    I would love to see news become Simple, Relevant and Reliable. I don’t however believe that having yet another organization that is traditional and differentiated primarily in its funding source will really change things enough. I would love the see a decentralized channel emerge, which IWT could be, that connected independant journalist/bloggers etc. to consumers of news (me and others).

    If I contributed $50/year I would love to see $20 of that go directly to overhead and I would like to be able to allocate the rest of the $30 my favorite news producers.

    I would expect IWT roles, and the $20, to provide the best platform for delivering news (online and on tv) so that the consumption can be frictionless across different media. I should be able to see the content on tv, on blogs, in my email, through search on google etc. or come to IWT’s website.

    The $30 would promote a direct relationship between the consumer of the news (the general population) and the producers of coverage (journalist/bloggers etc). There would be a clear way to support and promote the best sources through a democratic process of allocating funds. It would result in us being able to support the sources that we trusted, who were the most relevant to us and that spoke in a way that we could grok. The stories would be free to publish broadly and the journalist would get paid through the allocation of the $30 not based on where their stories were used.

    Even $1/yr allocated to a journalist by 500K people would make a rich journalist. Different from rich media executives.

  7. James Burns

    Darren, do they demonize FOX or do they offer legitimate criticism? Do they take an anti-corporate stance, or do they offer legitimate criticism of what happens to corporate controlled news media? How does supporting or enjoying Jon Stewart make you liberal? A show called “Follow the Money” could also investigate Adscam. What you’re doing is assigning a label and dismissing IWT as liberally biased without paying the least attention to the arguments they make. Again simply saying it doesn’t make it true.

    As for balance, you could argue that 50% truth and 50% lies is balance. Objective journalism is about following the facts and presenting as accurate a picture of events as possible. If those facts make FOX News look bad, then there is a very good chance that something is wrong with FOX News, and not that anyone’s bias is creeping in.

  8. Darren

    James: Well, thus far, they’ve only demonized FOX and taken an anti-corporate stance. Jon Stewart, I hope you’ll agree, is a (very funny) liberal pundit.

    What about the site doesn’t suggest a liberal bias?

  9. Stacy C

    In Canada, a member of IWT, Avi Lewis used to host a show on CBC TV, CounterSpin, which, while hosted by a lefty, was genuinely balanced. Unlike most debate shows, which featured tired, practically scripted, arguments between a right winger and a more-right-winger, this one had lefty activists arguing with right leaning (and sometimes moderate) policy makers. And then the audience got in, and the audience was full of people who were also closely following the issues–generally more left leaning, but not always.
    The show was great!
    Both sides knew the issues very well, argued their cases hard, and issues and debates came forward that were far more interesting and complex than most partisan debates I had seen previously. The show was excellent, and I have hopes IWT will bring such debate to the world stage, even if it is produced by lefties. Again, host was a total lefty, but the show was much more diverse and open than you might expect hearing that.
    I am a die hard lefty activist myself and I agree with the concerns raised… I don’t want my news coming from entirely from people who agree with me. I am not served by never being part of a real debate with people who disagree with my point of view. Not just because sometimes i am wrong, but sometimes debate makes me come up with better positions and ideas.
    Right wing news offers me only half of the story, left wing indie papers often offer only half the story (usually my half). I want to see people who know their stuff argue and get to the deeper, complex issues, and also the root of their disagreement.
    Also of note on this point, in Canada on CBC radio, the weekly national morning show, The Current, is really great, most times asking tough questions of whoever is interviewed, left or right. I actually can’t pin many of the journalists down on this show as to their political perspective, though not many of them like Bush, I’ll admit. In this case, the joy of the show is the wonderful investigative journalism.
    Many people who work in newsrooms today will tell you that what is really missing is the money to pay journalists to do the job well. PR comes in off the newswire and is printed verbatim.
    This is the other thing I hope IWT will offer–and investment in critical, investigative, challenging news.
    Go to it IWT!

  10. Jason

    I agree with Stacy,

    Having a direct opposite of FOX news won’t do anybody any good. People will just simply tune out the source they don’t agree with ensuring an even greater cultural division, allowing no room for discusion and evolution of ideas.
    I don’t like to call myself liberal although my opinions tend to lean that way. I have learned just as much if not more by trying to understand conservative points of view then I have from leftist rhetoric. Arguable evidence is just that. listening and understanding goes a lot further. Both sides are guilty of partisan reporting
    I’ll hold to the common goal that all of this is intended to make the world a better place and not just serve my own ego by concluding my beliefs are right. We’re all wrong at times and we’re all in it together. I’d like to see the same things, I think it is just a matter of being careful with the language you use and maintaining that your opponents aren’t evil, just different. They may have something you don’t see.
    I really like your ideas about the distrubution of revenue as well although I’m saddened to say, in time and because of human nature, it would eventually get manipulated in somebodies own best interests. We’re all still just apes with less hair after all.

  11. Nathan

    Any objective look at modern mainstream news has to point out the widspread total lack of objectivity, focus on sensationalism, and their role as a conduit for propoganda and disinformation. I don’t think it’s fair to consider IWT’s criticism of the major news outlets to be Left-Wing, Liberal, or even bias.

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