The amazing, Alain de Botton, has provided the one and only, practical solution which has the ability to make the fourth estate, relevant again.
This is what he wrote:
"Modern societies are still at the dawn of understanding what kind of news they need in order to flourish. For most of history, news was so hard to gather and expensive to deliver, its hold on our inner lives was inevitably held in check. Now there is almost nowhere on the planet we are able to go to escape from it. It is there waiting for us in the early hours when we wake up from a disturbed sleep; it follows us on board airplanes making their way between continents; it is waiting to hijack our attention during the children's bedtime."
That is the background brief on this opus about the media. And then, a great reporter asked Alain de Botton this fascinating question:
Why does the news play such a significant role in people's lives today?
These are some of the things he said which answer the question brilliantly:
"Societies become modern, the philosopher Georg Hegel suggested, when news replaces religion as our central source of guidance and our touchstone of authority.
The news is one of the most important and powerful forces in society. Every day, it shapes our sense of what matters, what's important, admirable, scandalous or normal. This is why the news should be a major target of concern for all real philosophers. A country can only ever be as good as its news outlets."
Here's what I suggest, to make the 4th estate worthy of its immense power and obligation. Stop being a forum for bigots on the left, who are simply assigned to counter the bigotry of those on the right. The net effect of that process is a big fat zero with a very bad taste in the mouth. That is not journalism.
We must marginalize the ideas of fanatics who are too biased to merit a wide audience. Instead of giving them a forum to pontificate, the media should be dominated by worthy and brilliant people like Bill Moyers & Bill Moyers. Sorry, I do not know that many celebrities who are in his league. I therefore think the best solution is to make people like him news anchors - fountains of knowledge that reject the current, rather exclusive tendency to give pundits on the right and those on the left, the opportunity to pound themselves into oblivion.
That's the model of the so-called mainstream press, and it will continue to erode the integrity of both television and print news. We need to focus on the merit and on the skills that reporters and pundits bring to the table. Everything else is superfluous.
For starters, if more people of the calibre of Bill Moyers are not widely mentioned in this piece, it is not because they are scarce. It is because we have too many unknowns geniuses -Bill Moyers is unique because he is both, celebrity and genius.
We must scout our pundits in the media the way sports teams develop stars.
And who are these "stars"? Find them yourself. I am still in the process of discovery, but this amazing journalist blew me away. That is what you call real, solid journalism, anybody who is intelligent and works hard can do it, and all the media, print and television alike, have a great deal to learn from that level of competence.
Next: Meet the new breed of citizen journalists.