Monday, January 18, 2016

Does Palm Beach County need an ombudsman to monitor the news media? Especially the TV news?

Palm Beach County (PBC) hired a "Climate Change" Czar for about $90,000/year and I think the county could get an ombudsman to monitor the TV news for a lot less than that; a lot of people would be glad to do it for a pittance, expenses, and a weekly therapeutic back massage after having to watch all that news.

The problem is that TV news is creating much confusion in the county about what exactly is a city and what is not. This happens all the time in central PBC where Lake Worth is located. Murders and all kinds of other news nowhere near Lake Worth is reported as having occurred in the City. The latest news about the increased reward to solve the murder of Cynthia Moffett by ABC25/WPBF is just the latest example and there are many, many more.

Consider this: Let's say someone saw the report by ABC25 and lived near where it happened at the time. If that person(s) were given the correct information might sit back and think for a while, "Hmmm, did I see something that might help?". But if that same person thought, falsely, that the murder occurred many miles away "in Lake Worth" they probably wouldn't give it a second thought. This false information isn't just a simple mistake that doesn't mean anything. It does mean something. If the news is incorrect that is misinforming the public. What is the purpose of having a media in the first place if not to inform the public with accurate information?

The media is free to put their particular "spin" on the news. But you can't spin these facts: The date, location, and names to name a few.

I had contact with someone in the TV news business who suggested an ombudsman might be a way to go in getting TV news to improve. It could be one paid for by the news outlets themselves or have the county do the job for them. Either way, it has come to the point where something has to be done. A producer complained to me that the misreporting is damaging the reputation of TV news generally in the public's eye. Another person explained that the problem is that PBC is an "in-between" market between the bigger news markets like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando so it gets a lot of reporters/producers/editors forced out from other places that the big markets aren't interested in.

Is all TV news bad? No. For instance NBC5/WPTV works hard at getting the news correct, particularly locations. Generally speaking, TV news shouldn't be your source for all the news about anything but if TV news is what you like then I would suggest you choose NBC5. Why? For the most part they know where Lake Worth is and more importantly, what's NOT Lake Worth.