EDITORIAL: Stay out: Government not needed for media regulations

The 2000 presidential election is something that will not be forgotten for a long time: controversy surrounded ballots, voting laws and, of course, media coverage of the entire circus.

Lawmakers in more than six states are seeking to clamp down on exit polling and the rush to declare winners.

These lawmakers, including a Mississippi representative who wants to impose a $1,000 fine on anyone who publishes election news before polls close, are misjudging the effectiveness of the media.

It is the duty of the news media to make their own regulations and check themselves. The government has no business meddling around in the business of reporting the news.

Mistakes were made on the now infamous election night. But those mistakes were corrected immediately. Nobody in the news media wants to make mistakes. Accuracy is the highest priority.

The media have done more than apologize for and correct the mistakes made in November.

News organizations have been conducting rigorous internal investigations since election night. The mistakes made will not be repeated.

If government officials want to improve the election process, they should work on the actual elections, not the coverage of them.

If the news media do not work to improve election-night coverage, they will lose viewers and/or readers. Poor news organizations are weeded out by a loss of interest from their consumers. It is not necessary for the government to waste time on things it cannot control.

The process in which a news organization collects its election data should be (and is in many cases) re-evaluated. There is so much unnecessary coverage of election night that the chance of error is drastically high.

But the media don’t need the government to tell them this.

News organizations should be able to correct their own mistakes by themselves.