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Does the Fairness Doctrine need to be reinstated?
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To the editor:

The Great Bend Tribune published a column several months ago by Rick Manieri, a journalism professor and author, called “What’s news? It just depends on who you ask.” News has changed since Ronald Reagan’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission) abolished the Fairness Doctrine which, since 1949, required broadcasters holding a FCC-issued public license for radio and TV stations to: a) devote some of their programing to controversial issues of public importance and b) allow the airing of opposing views on those issues. However, the policy was discontinued in 1985 under the Reagan administration who felt the policy violated the First Amendment (there shall be no law abridging the freedom of speech or the press, etc.).

The theory behind the Fairness Doctrine is that as long as public airwaves are being used, no one side should have total control over the airwaves. However, there has been a rise in privately owned and privately funded radio and TV channels as well as cable, satellite, and streaming providers. They may not be covered by the old Fairness Doctrine if it were reinstated. 

The Fairness Doctrine remains a suspended policy, but some say it is now more necessary than ever due to the proliferation of talk radio, which many think tends to lean toward the mainly conservative side. Many are now calling for a new Fairness Doctrine. If enacted, it may force radio stations, and even some television stations, to carry programming giving another side of the political philosophy.

So, what one calls news depends on which public or private radio or TV channel is listened to or watched. Remember to consider that there is more than one side to an issue and to use your critical thinking skills; the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment.

Janice Walker

Great Bend