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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Amid Madison protests, provide in-depth analysis

Whenever civic life become divisive, news media have a special responsibility to stay cool-headed, to stand back from the fray and political posturing. News media should give citizens what they desperately need: an accessible and impartial analysis of not just the facts but also of the problem.

The current protest at our state legislature is a case in point.

As I scan media, I get much heat and argument; much emotion. I get an overwhelming amount of opinion and dueling media columnists.  Lots of pictures of people carrying signs and a daily counting (or mis-counting?) of the size of the crowd. That is part of the story. But only part of it.

What I don’t see enough of are large, well-researched articles and TV programs analyzing in detail the budget problems, and citing crucial facts that place the problem in national context. I don’t see enough fact-checking journalism into claims by all sides.  What is also missing is a cogent and easily understandable presentation of alternate budget-reducing options, drawn up by people without partisan connections.

Here is one moment when public “solutions” journalism, as it is called, could play a role in the public debate.

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