In a system of Local Electors, the Local Electors themselves would be the primary source of information connecting citizens with their government. Citizens could hear first-hand from their Local Elector what government is doing. Community meetings would be the forum where the public would make their needs and concerns known to the government via their Local Elector. This would also include concerns citizens have about non-governmental organizations. Citizens would mobilize support for their needs and concerns in their communities, and Local Electors would mobilize support beyond their communities in an effort to get the issues on the government agenda. This would enable citizens to truly participate in government. It would be real two-way communication.
But it would be impractical for Local Electors to adequately communicate all of what government is doing on their own. The volume of news is simply too great. In addition, Local Electors themselves would need access to timely and objective news from an accountable source about what their elected representatives are doing, what the government in general is doing, and about important things going on in society. Such news would be useful to everyone in government, as it could serve as a single source of information that would enable everyone in government to know what is going on and to communicate with one another effectively. The public would also benefit from such news, although presented in a more public friendly manner. The government would therefore provide this in two new news sources—a professional-oriented public news (PPN), and a citizen-oriented public news (CPN).
The PPN would be geared specifically to Local Electors and other government officials. It would be designed to give Local Electors and government officials the information they need in order to do their job. The general public would of course have access to the PPN, but it would not be geared toward them. The CPN would be geared specifically toward the public. The CPN would provide higher level news, primarily covering major issues and developments, but would give citizens access to more detailed information.
One of the primary goals of the CPN would be to foster public participation by connecting them with the processes of government. News would be presented in a continuous on-going narrative that would enable citizens to see a link between what they are doing in their community meetings and the actions of government. For example, as an issue that originates in a community works its way through the process of becoming law, the CPN would follow the issue and credit the community and individual who originated it.
This would enable Local Electors to discuss what the government is doing in community meetings and get reactions from their community. It would foster the connection between citizens and government, and it would encourage citizens to feel ownership of the government and to be active participants. Compared with how things are now, it would be like the difference between being a player on a sports team versus occasionally seeing a few highlights of the team’s games on television. Citizens would not only be connected, we would be engaged.
The organization that would produce this news would be would be overseen by elected officials and would be independent of the other three branches of government. It would be a new branch of government. Elected offices would be created at the local, state, and national levels. Higher level office holders would be elected by lower level office holders, who would in turn be elected by Local Electors so that small ratios could be maintained. (See “Electing Office Holders” for a discussion about this.) This would make the public news accountable to the people who need it and enable Local Electors to ensure that the news they and the public needs is produced.
Ultimately, no single organization is capable of producing all the news the public needs. This is a job that requires many diverse organizations. The existing commercial news media would be responsible for providing the rest of the coverage. If the public or members of the government determine that the commercial news media are falling short, the government could fund additional news organizations that would be charged with providing the needed coverage and that would be accountable to the government.
Would the commercial news media continue to have the same derisive effect that it does today? The lack of accountability and the need to sell enough influence to produce a profit will always exist. The difference would be that government representatives would be connected to the public and would have a strong platform in the public news from which to make their case. If members of the commercial news media continue to promote conflict, elected representatives would not be beholden to them, and could ignore them or hold them accountable by stating their case directly to the public via Local Electors and the public news. If members of the commercial news media engage in demagoguery, government representatives could call them out and set the record straight. By being connected, citizens would trust their government officials more than personalities in the news media, which would reduce their power to influence.
These are a few thoughts about what news would be like under a system of Local Electors. Much additional input from the public is needed.
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