Monday, July 21, 2014

On the Media

The first Amendment of the Constitution:

"...prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights." -Wiki

There has been much talk in the past decade or so about freedom of religion and freedom of speech  but what is the significance of the freedom of the press?


by: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

'HILE free from Force the Press remains,
Virtue and Freedom chear our Plains,
And Learning Largesses bestows,
And keeps unlicens'd open House.
We to the Nation's publick Mart
Our Works of Wit, and Schemes of Art,
And philosophic Goods, this Way,
Like Water carriage, cheap convey.
This Tree which Knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming swords
From Lay-Approach with Zeal defend,
Lest their own Paradise should end.

The Press from her fecundous Womb
Brought forth the Arts of Greece and Rome;
Her offspring, skill'd in Logic War,
Truth's Banner wav'd in open Air;
The Monster Superstition fled,
And hid in Shades in Gorgon Head;
And awless Pow'r, the long kept Field,
By Reason quell'd, was forc'd to yield.

This Nurse of Arts, and Freedom's Fence,
To chain, is Treason against Sense:
And Liberty, thy thousand Tongues
None silence who design no Wrongs;
For those who use the Gag's Restraint,
First Rob, before they stop Complaint. '

     Our founding fathers saw the press as a main vehicle for debate, civil discussion, address of grievances and perhaps most of all- for education, so that man may have reasoned discussions.

For this purpose the press should not be controlled by governing powers, who may choose the print on which the people form their opinions.

As well, the job of a journalist has foremost been to find, print and disseminate THE TRUTH, as to provide facts, from which society may argue and form its conclusions.  

Control of the media in a simple form of mind control.  The people can reason with the facts they are given.  If bad leaders print lies and misinformation, what conclusions can the people rightly make?


So come the heroic professionals of journalism- seeking the truth whatever the cost, sometimes a journalist's life itself is part of the course that brings people THE TRUTH. 

The National Society for Professional Journalists' ethical guidelines are this:  Seek the truth- and report it; Minimize harm; and Act independently.  

Who can most directly corrupt the sacred platform for truth dissemination and civil debate?

Journalists?  Media owners?  Politicians?  Wealthy individuals?

     Profit over Truth driven journalism and Apathetic consumers

There is a fateful Catch 22 going on between media providers and the consumers of media:

All businesses must make a profit. ->

As media has been liberated on the internet, news readership has gone down and news makers are trying to reach the people where they are- on the internet.  Online news sources are paid by advertisers according to ad hits.  This means the more a consumer is interested in a particular story, the more money is made off of that story.  ->

Media consumers are interested in crime and violence, and are enticed more by entertainment than by important facts of civic life.


News is mostly crime and entertainment, not seeking truth and providing a platform for reasoned civil debate. 


People don't trust the news, and it loses its purpose and value.


The news finds different ways to make money following consumer demand for crime and entertainment 

Do citizens need to be informed about community, state, national and international issues?

Do we need a truth seeking media?

Should journalists be held accoutable to the ethics of TRUTH, MINIMIZING HARM and  ACTING INDEPENDENTLY?

The founding fathers thought so... not just a free press, but TRUTH seeking press; and not just a free people- but an educated and civic minded people 

If one corrupts the product of the press in the course of making it- - the use- the value- the quality of the product suffers.  

It is a crime against all who have sacrificed to keep the institution of a free-truth seeking press alive- as the cornerstone of our Democratic Republic nation - to diminish the profession to the purpose of entertainment. 

As I conclude many times over in my political arguments, the foundation of a nation is built on communities, and the foundation of the community is made of individuals.  

The fate of our country lies in each of us as individuals, being educated on

1.  The facts of the matters that do or may affect us

2.  The responsibilities of civic life

One may blame media companies themselves, advertisers or individual reporters; but the most direct player affecting the change in media is the consumer, the individual, the citizen.

What news will you consume today?

Make a great day!