For anyone else who has grown tired of the hyper-partisan cable news networks and remembers fondly the days when television news was not focused on driving national policy or worldviews, there may be something positive on the horizon.
WGN, the Chicago-based television network, will be airing a three-hour, daily, live news program, News Nation, beginning Sept. 1. Look for WGN on your TV guide.
While the giants of the cable news industry — Fox News, CNN and MSNBC — are each running their star opinion people during primetime, News Nation will be airing, well, news, news it pledged will be unfiltered. The program will run from 5 to 8 p.m. every night in the Pacific Time Zone.
WGN is promoting News Nation as a "fact-based, unbiased newscast, telling stories from across the country that impact you and your family."
One of the anchors of the news program is Joe Donlan, the longtime anchor for Portland's KGW television station who left for Chicago and WGN awhile back. I always appreciated Donlan during his many years at KGW. He combined a solid, strong delivery with a great mix of humor and humanity; he was smart without constantly trying to prove how intelligent he was. He isn't flashy and doesn't have that "speaking from the mountaintop" infallibility that some anchors try to throw at viewers.
News Nation will draw on Nexstar Media Group's 5,400 local, regional and national journalists and 110 local newsrooms. They plan on delivering news that is "fact-based, impactful, educational and unbiased."
The program bills itself as "politically agnostic" live news in primetime (at least on the East Coast). While Fox News and CNN and MSNBC spend prime time focused on selling the opinions of their "stars" and their network's political agenda, News Nation will attempt to give the nation news.
Can we handle that? Can we turn away from Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow long enough to give them a chance?
Fox News and CNN/MSNBC are each — all three — filtered news. All have intelligent, insightful people speaking to us, but all three networks are agenda driven. They are all designed to appeal to one of the two great halves of our country, Fox gets to own the right, CNN and MSNBC generally split the left. Fox Nation spends its time convincing viewers that progressives are anti-patriotic socialists and CNN World pushes the dogma that conservatives are now just Trump Cult fascists.
Instead of educating our nation, our cable news giants are more effective at increasing the great divide in our country.
WGN's grand experiment — if it works and stays on the air — is for televised news to revert back to when it strove to "tells it like it is" and ignore the impulse to tell it like they wish it was or hope it will be. That might be just what America needs, and right in time for the political season. Maybe this will be a channel where people not already drunk on solid blue or deep red can accept as a base of fact. America needs a center point, an information source that the vast majority can accept as a base of truth, information that half the country won't write off as "fake news."
Can we handle some truth? I think so. I think we're hungry for it, and I know this divided country could use steady doses of it.
Maybe the former regional favorite Joe Donlan can become the Walter Conkite of this current, mercurial time.
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