Colin Platt

Founder & President, Watchdog International
Portland, OR, United States

About Colin


English, Portuguese, Spanish

Areas of Expertise

Media (social media, digital media), English language, Documentary Director/Producer/Writer

Comments & conversations

Colin Platt
Posted almost 4 years ago
Why don't "the people" tell the news? Why do we make media companies responsible for reporting our news?
When several years ago I told a Wall Street Journal columnist my desire to create a nonprofit that would support the telling of news stories in the human interest, from countries where aspiring journalists lack the training, technology, and platform to convey their reality, his answer was a flat, "it'll never work -- there's no money in it." From his perspective, news cannot exist without advertising, and advertisers favor a subject matter that lends toward the sensational and spectacular. Ads are tested to sell their products best when viewers are in a state of uncertainty and fear. News has been shifting more toward the spectacle, and away from the in-depth investigative reporting and nitty-gritty details of the human experience, for many decades. When I suggested to him that editors shouldn't arbitrate what is newsworthy, he sighed forlornly. Stories of war and disaster reliably make the front pages, as mainstream outlets gain access through special relationships with government, until new wars and disasters take their place. "Fatigue" is cited as a reason to draw down coverage, from the humanitarian crisis and civil war in Darfur, to the clean-up and rebuilding of New Orleans, to the wars of attrition in Iraq and Afghanistan. But these stories go on. I still stubbornly believe the audience is out there for the nitty-gritty details of people's suffering and struggle to create a better world, and advertisers don't have a place there anyway. Viewers can become more active in supporting investigations that matter to them, and news that's local to them, using online tools and making personal connections. Independent journalists can collaborate and put their work out there instead of competing for dwindling positions with established companies that serve their advertisers and do a disservice to the truth. If it's factual, well-researched, and biased toward the human interest instead of corporate interests, then they shouldn't have to starve to continue their work.