Un-Un-Cat, Episode 22. — Freedom and Integrity in Journalism.

President Green, inaugurated on Monday, January 20th, 2021, decided to have her first official press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room three days later on Thursday.

U.G. meant it when she said she loved comedians, she selected an odd choice for her Press Secretary. She selected a popular female comedian, talk-show-host.

“Hello America, yes it’s me, I made fun of the former press secretary, and you know how they say ‘be careful what you wish for’ or ‘you reap what you sow’, I don’t know, anyway, here I am! I am here to serve as your press secretary for as long as you will have me. That’s right, if you do not like the work I am doing, let us know and the people have the power to keep me here as your press secretary or vote via petition to replace me. I am not kidding, President Green has a list of TV personalities and comedians lined up just in case you fire me. Okay, on to business.

Welcome journalists, correspondents and members of the White House Press Corps. This first White House briefing today is going to be a little different as is President Green’s style. All have been given a memo about what to expect, it’s a public memo posted on White House dot gov slash White House Press Corps. Anybody interested may read it and follow along, sorta like the bulletin with the list of songs they hand out before church service or a programme for a theater performance.” The comedy host smile-grimaced and took a sip from her official White House Press Secretary Mug. Muffled laughter came from the packed room. “Yes, look at that, I have my own official mug with a seal and my name on it, it came with the job, so even if you fire me after today, I can keep my mug as a souvenir.” The grimace half of her smile had faded, replaced by a confident twinkle in her eyes and a genuine smile.

“President Green’s goal for the press is to once again serve as the eyes and ears for the American people, no more enemy of the people or fake-news and!” She held up her index finger pointing up at the sky as she said. “we will sincerely endeavor not to lie.

If you would, please look at the first line item on your itinerary. All news will be credited and fact-checked. Seems like a no-brainer, a standard of journalistic code of ethics, but um, we have had a pretty rough couple of years. When a member of the press core asks a question please state your name and the news organization you are with. All questions will be posted at White House dot gov slash White House press corps, and then when the questions are answered, those answers will be posted too. Right under the question, and the answer will be credited. So the American people always know who said what.

Also, as relates to National Security if an issue is private or important to keep confidential for national security reasons, I will say ‘thank you, the question will go under review with the secret service, and they will respond at an appropriate time’. Right now, thankfully President Green’s taxes have been released…” There was an audible chuckle heard in the room, she didn’t pause for long, she just kept on talking right over the stirring of the press pool in the room as U.G. stepped up to the podium behind her. “… International trade deals have been set back in time five years, to the state they were in, in 2016 as a good launch platform for the new administration. Without further ado, it is my great honor to introduce the President of the United States, President Utah Robin Green.”

U.G. smiled and the press secretary grinned back and stepped aside clapping, she knew it wasn’t a show, it was a press briefing, but old habits are hard to break.

“Hello America, hello press corp,

Thank you for submitting questions in advance via text and email. There were a lot of good ones. I don’t have time to speak about them all here today, but I have sorted the most popular questions and replied in depth online. Let’s start with an easy fun question asked by quite a few people. How could I do that to the lawn? Or Why are we replacing almost the entire White House lawn with native plants?

As many know, the most important issue for me personally is climate change. It has been mentioned many times that people think planting one small plot of native plants and wildflowers is not going to save all the bees. I must admit I find this amusing on a couple levels. One, I am only going to save the insects that will call the new wild yard home, saving all the bees and native pollinators in America is up to all Americans. Second, some of the grasses and plants in the wild yard are planted there because they represent important battlefronts for combating climate change.

I sincerely believe there is no easy fix to climate change, no safe and cost-effective invention waiting in some inventors workshop to control the weather or block harmful UV rays like a science fiction planetary shield that acts like global sunglasses. We have to systematically implement broad changes that will have a gradual effect over time. In much the same way that we caused climate change by our use of combustible and nonrenewable fuels over time.

Plants, especially plants strategically planted around water have the greatest carbon trapping effect, tho smaller in scale, plants in and around water have a larger carbon trapping capability per area than even planting trees. Now, do I have time to go into preventing fertilizer and pesticide runoff in our water and the complications that result from these chemicals or do we move to the next question?” President Green glanced to the side of the podium.

The Press Secretary was mouthing the words “I don’t know?”

Outside the door the Chief of Staff on duty was shaking her head “No.” and pointed at a freckle that was an imaginary watch, meaning ‘no-time’.

“No-time. I knew that. The plan for stopping chemical fertilizer pollution in our water is online if any are interested please go check it out. I’ll repeat for the viewing public in case they are joining us right now.

In a sincere effort to fact-check, be consistent and have a record, all questions including a detailed answer to the questions about the yard will be posted online at white house dot gov slash white house press corps.

Also, let's not get negative, communication is important, but I believe it’s more important for me to listen, and then report back plans of action and answers to questions to the people in a consistent legitimate manner while serving as your President. As you know I have maintained a social media presence over the years first as a civilian with my own personal account and later as a congresswoman. All my accounts will be updated with a link and guess where the link goes?” President Green smiled and shrugged and waved indicating that she was seeking a response from them and several of the press core answered back, shouting.

“White house dot gov slash white house press corps.” and one press guy standing on the side said loudly. “Yes. Mrs. President, Um so no more text chats ranting in all caps at all hours of the night and day?”

U.G. didn’t miss a beat, she heard him. “Please state your name and the news organization you are with.” President Green said softly leaning in, he met her gaze and hid behind his tablet computer.

A few people chuckled. Someone in the front stated his name and TV news station in rapid fire to follow the protocol she was requesting, but not waste time, then said. “He’s not going to make you repeat yourself Madame President.”

“Thanks. Yes, all news and events at the white house will be filtered on the news tab, there. If you don’t find what you are looking for under news, please do a search, the topic you are looking for may be on the page of a specific member of our administration. I understand the United States Secretary of the Treasury page has never been more popular, and yes we have tasked a small army to help answer questions there in a timely manner.”

U.G. then took a question from a hand raised in the front row. “Hi I’m so and so from NPR,” She said as quickly as the TV reporter who spoke before her. “We see that some very big questions of national importance from the wish list have been sorted on White House gov already in just three days. Do you plan to make announcements about how you are going to address the top concerns in the nation, soon? Can we assume this is the reason the wish list is posted?”

“A very good question, thank you, Terry. Yes, the top concerns to the nation are access to good health care at a fair price, climate change, housing affordability, and good jobs for good wages. We have a plan and have already started, let’s call it pre-production. As soon as we have programs to start rolling out the next generation of internet to heal the digital divide, we will let everybody affected know. I’ve said it many times, I personally don’t like to answer with promises. I like to speak with actions.”

There was a murmur, she paused to let them settle down. “The White House lawn is a perfect example. The rollout in-progress for the first one thousand dollar dividend at the end of this month is another example. The provisional emergency medicare for-all-plan the Vise President announced at our inauguration is a third. I am currently sorting the data for some potentially revolutionary plans, but it’s too early to discuss those in detail yet. But, I can’t wait to get to work. The list is prominently posted, and the answers will be action items posted as soon as physically possible. Announcements will be made when we are ready to get to work.”

President Green prepared to leave the area behind the podium. There was a little shuffle of the press pool, some checking their notes, or typing on devices to submit new questions, a few hoping to ask a question now, but, she had made it clear she wasn’t taking any questions unless they were submitted via text prior to the briefing. Before she turned to go she said. “Thank you. I look forward to steady improvements in journalist ethics and public fact-checking of the news for the American people. ”

President Green took the ethics problem with the mainstream news media in the United States very seriously. Tho, it was only number 22 when she originally made her list, it was something she could do now, very effectively as POTUS.

22. Truth in journalism verified, writing credits, and fact-checking required. News mistakes and errors publicly redacted using the top of the journalists’ time-slot or publishing space when proven false by peer and public review. If any journalist makes a lot of errors, in the next issue or news broadcast they will not have any time left to make further false statements. Additionally, all news needs to be screened to uphold the right of publicity, right of privacy, and to prevent copycat crimes.

There have been standards of journalistic ethics before the news was broadcast via radio. To balance the 1st amendment right of ‘freedom of speech’ with ‘liberty and justice for all’, requires a cannon of ethics to be strictly followed by any serious journalist. For as long as there has been news, each individual reporter needs to maintain integrity for their news organization by following the rules. For example, newspaper reporters have known about the problem of copycat crimes since the 1960s and fake-news a.k.a., tabloid news containing little or no basis, in fact, has been around in the US since the very first newspapers started using catchy headlines to sell papers in the 1800s.

Therefore if you are a news reporter and you broadcast details of a victim in violation of victims' rights, and another victim follows after the report, then that journalist is implicating themselves and the news organization they work for in future crimes. If one were to argue that the same murderer is committing these crimes then the news is not only violating the rights of victims and their families they are promoting the “work” of a serial killer. If the serial murderer is caught and on trial, then the news gives them fame by broadcasting their name, image and details of the crimes committed, the news is again partially at fault for any future copycat crimes.

The most heinous example is the national news broadcasting crimes committed by minors seeking attention and fame. The result is waves of mass school shootings spreading across the nation in reverberating echoes, for decades. The first school shooting was not Columbine. There were several school shootings prior but they were only broadcast on local news. There was no repeat pattern of the original school shootings, in part because they were kept as isolated incidents.

President Green didn’t wish to enforce any sort of martial law over journalism, instead, she outlined her expectations for the news and asked the people and other news organizations to hold each other accountable via peer review.

Unlike fact-checking, the less obvious threat to the news-viewing public is widespread brainwashing by the mainstream media via the near-constant onslaught of negative news spreading fear and hate. While hate crimes and discrimination are important to bring to the surface, in the information age they are also too prevalent for the national news to cover fairly. Some news is better left covered by local news, the smaller audience scope allows the affected population to deal appropriately and directly with the offending individuals. An important part of freedom of the press is for people to be heard, for local stories to not get buried under tabloid news content that is repeated on every channel across the nation.

The opposite side of the same 24-hour news cycle coin. To have good news to broadcast, you can’t just put a pretty face in a chair and tell them to smile and chat about nice things that happen to be the latest meme. To have news that uplifts the spirit of the nation, we need good things happening for the news to report everywhere, not just nationally syndicated pick-me-up shows.

Why? Because the best stories often are local stories, local heroes and everyday people choosing to do something worthwhile. And just like the hate and fear-based news, in the information age, there are too many good news stories to cover fairly, and worse many of the local heroes don’t want national attention. Becoming a meme good or bad is a potentially life-altering thing to happen to anyone.

Sadly, 2018 saw the biggest drop in local newspaper employment in the history of journalism in the US. Over 25% of newspaper employees lost their jobs in 2017–2019. A big part of this is due to news going digital. There is no going back in time to paper news. There is only going forward to heal the digital divide.

The US military built the first internet. Communication and a chance for everyone’s voice to be heard is key to healing the nation. The first item on a national three-part plan that President Green had in pre-production was for a contract for the US military to build the next generation of high-speed internet to heal the digital divide.

President Green believed that local news as a wide net of freedom of speech serving every community is vital for the health of the nation as a whole. Therefore the first organizations she planned to connect to the next generation of internet was local newspapers, local news radio, and local TV stations. As President Green said in her 1st press briefing, it was too early to discuss the details, but as soon as they had a plan ready to roll out, and get to work to building the next phase of the internet to heal the digital divide, everyone would know.

Meanwhile, the mainstream TV channels were reporting to the nation that all the @POTUS social media sites were showing a link back to the White House gov slash White House Press core.

2019–2020 Un-Un-Cat story episodes are science fiction prototyping about ‘How to postpone the apocalypse’, Cat seriously has a plan to save the humans.