The Need for an Impartial International News Service

The history of 2016 will be very hard to write. There have been so many false bulletins repeated by every news outlet, and with commercial and political pressures behind every medium, the news is rushed out in fierce competition to be first. Falsities were often corrected, but corrections are always less sensational, and hence less memorable, than the first scandalous pronouncement. Then both in connection with the Brexit referendum in the UK, and the presidential election in the USA, individuals were contradicting themselves and making unsubstantiated statements at a rate that left both the media and the public confused and floundering far behind the facts, where facts were able to be discerned Pimpandhost .

The news media must share a good proportion of the blame for the disastrous outcomes of the UK Brexit referendum and the US presidential election. In both cases, emotion was allowed to overwhelm reason: the perceived need for strict controls on immigration was trumpeted much louder than the opposition could voice the consequences of undefined social and economic policies. In both cases, it was the opposing social and economic arguments that were based on fact, the benefits of the huge European free market in the one case and the extrapolation of the successful Obama policies in the other, yet linked to more liberal policies on immigration they were destined to be lost in the media clamour.

There was a time when the BBC World Service was regarded as a relatively impartial news medium but funded by an annual grant from the British Foreign Office it could not be said to be entirely free of political bias. Since this support ended in 2014, the BBC has proposed limited commercial activity which suggests a move out of the frying pan into the fire. Anyone experiencing the incessant commercial breaks on alternative news services knows the pernicious influence of big business, overt recurrent boredom imposed by the have-plenty on the have-nots and concealed political manipulation.

While the BBC World Service could serve as a useful model for an impartial international news medium, the new organisation cannot be associated with any one national government. It must be under the aegis of the United Nations. Issues like Brexit and the US presidential election have complex international ramifications and must be seen and reported from a global perspective. A nucleus already exists to distribute news of UN activities, but this needs to be greatly expanded to provide a fully global news service. Freed from competition, it would have no need to rush, and could take its time checking facts to ensure accuracy. Freed from the need to take commercial breaks, it would have time to fully consider current issues, consulting leading experts in all fields and at all locations. The need for UNIVOX may have existed for a long time, but it is perhaps only in the confusion of 2016 that it has become an urgent necessity.

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