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A free press exists as part of our First Amendment free speech declaration. Although it’s quite apparent that many Americans expect their use of free speech should be more freer than the next guy’s use of free speech, especially if your free speech denigrates my free speech. A good example is our own President since as of late he’s decided that media networks and station affiliates who report what he defines as fake news (news that criticizes him) should have their FCC licenses pulled. Now, on any normal day in Trump World I would not give this much attention because we are all getting used to his wild and wacky tweet tirades and this doesn’t surprise us in the same way it did early on when he shocked us with this non-presidential behavior. If any other president had muttered these words in a tweet or a bad dream he would have been drawn & quartered by the public and the media.
But there are a lot of Americans on both sides of the fence who do have issues with how the media reports the news. Traditionally the media is looked at as being biased toward a liberal ideology. In spite of my favoring the MSM in getting my news there are also issues I have as well. The most recent is that as soon as Hurricane Marie left Puerto Rico all reporting of the relief efforts in Florida and Texas just plain stopped in favor of the new hurricane damage and relief problems. The last I left the Florida relief news the authorities finally allowed the Key West residents to travel into Key West. I never heard reporting of what they found.. how they were managing to live since to that point no relief was entering the areas… electric was reporting to be out for weeks… did returning residents also bring in looters? What about the damage and relief efforts with the rest of the state all the way north?
Busy Times –
Now, in a bit of defense for the media… for the past month or more this has been a hugely (bigly?) busy news cycle, what with the typical daily Trumpian shinanigans, four hurricanes and the relief followup, and as of this writing a number of huge fires in California that have yet to be contained (being billed as the most destructive in California history), wiping out homes and resulting in a fairly high death toll. Toss into that mix the Weinstein sexual abuse reporting and the latest name-calling exchange between Trump and North Korea. It’s difficult to get depth of reporting when there’s so much burning on the surface.
But be that as it may, people either hate, despise, dislike, disapprove… you pick the word.. the mainstream media.. broadcast or print. Why? Well the reasons are many and varied but for the most part people find the reporting to be biased liberally for sure, but also reporting many times shortchanges a story, failing a lot in reporting context as much as content. There’s also an inherent reporting of “bad” news… negative news. Focusing on scandal as if it were notable news, and many times seemingly making much ado about nothing; making a story a bigger story simply by reporting on it.
While I acknowledge the media “can” be interpreted that way….
…but if you stick to the major TV and cable news networks and print sources like newspapers and magazines I contend you have a good chance of being well-informed. Why am I different from the mainstream haters of the media? Well, for one thing I am a bit of a news junkie; I watch the TV and Cable news networks… mostly CNN.. many hours of a given day (in the background as I do things). My exposure to news and talking head analysis is likely far greater than most people so my ability to spend time evaluating, or filtering, what I see and hear is greater. Most Americans have busier lives and thusly are limited to news media input.
This by no means suggests that I am laying claim to being any smarter or even more informed as the next person.. but it does suggest that I have a personal comfort level that what I am hearing repeated throughout the day I can devote some thought, analysis… and here is that term again, critical thinking, in drawing conclusions which evolve into opinion.
Just a note on this idea that the MSM is liberally biased. You watch or read anything from the MSM you will not see any condemnation of any political ideology. You will not see or hear any reference of name calling toward conservatives, degrading Republicans, or directly promoting one ideology over another. Yes.. talking head guest commentary can present a direct bias… but that’s to be expected. But if you listen to conservative media it’s just a continuing tirade in treating liberals and liberalism like it’s a disease (which likely many might think it is). The so-called liberal bias in the MSM is more how it reports the news; what might come across as a “bad” issue, a conservative would call it a good issue. The tendency to want to find victims that fall through one of society’s administrative cracks, report on their suffering, thus suggesting to the viewer that an entire national policy should be changed for a few wayward souls. The MSM will tend to report the shortcomings of democracy in striving for improvements while conservatives prefer to hear how great is American democracy.
Past Post –
Back in March I posted a four part series on critical thinking and the media. Here’s a couple links for some background reference from a couple of those posts regarding the media.
In Conclusion –
The reason for this post is to suggest that the mainstream media is the best we have in exercising our First Amendment regarding a free press. They may be politically biased in how they report but not necessarily in what they report. But here’s the most important things about the MSM and the press in its entirety…
- The press exists to make money. It’s a business first.
- The press competes between each other and with the public itself for the public’s attention.
- What’s reported to the public is what the public wants, it’s what the public finds interesting, and it has little to do with what liberals or conservatives prefer to see that matches their ideology.
- With the MSM, it’s VERY important to be perceived by the public as reporting objectively, with professional credibility, and as impartial as possible… because that gets the audience to attract advertisers, to pay the bills, to profit the owners… which can be investors or private owners. The system itself pushes toward honest and vetted reporting.
Like democracy in general, the free press as represented in America is not a perfect institution… but it is not a singular entity either. It’s simply a string of independent businesses in our free market system. To me, that makes it a reliable source I can team up with my common sense. I’m ok with the media. What is a bit of hypocrisy with the right wing is that they hate the media so much for it’s bias to liberalism that they jump over to pure vitriol conservative bias media as a source of factual “unbiased” news. Uh huh.