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Have you seen today’s headlines? Yesterday’s paper looked more like an opinion page than news. Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote, “Butchers make sausage. Newspapers make public affairs. Has that hunger driven the media out of control?” (Nachman 26). The media manipulates the facts of the news to fit their own agendas and I think it needs to stop.
In the beginning ages of our country, the people of our nation made laws that they thought would be just and good for the nation. Of the press they made the familiar and oh so controversial: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” (United States Constitution 1789). But where do we cut the line? There our newspapers, television shows, and radio broadcasts constantly molding the facts and telling one side stories so they can get the attention of the people and manipulate them.
The media simply does what it wants to do. They do not have to tell the exact facts, and misquoting a person is not uncommon. John Silber, a critic of the media in 1988 said: “The reporter’s work should be like a pane of glass, perfectly clear and unspotted, through which the reader might view the important events of the day. Today, the practice of “personal” journalism in news reporting has persistently sacrificed objectivity for entertainment and the personal gratification and presumably the greater popularity of the reporter. The pane of glass is dirtied and distorted.” “Too often we see and read, not what happened or what was said, but the personal views of the fourth estate” (Orr 66).
I think that if the media does not stop reporting their wonderful, biased, and profit motivated opinion in our news, we will soon have to initiate a censorship program. A good definition of Censorship is “[The] Policy of restricting the public expression of ideas, opinions, conceptions, and impulses, which are believed to have the capacity to undermine the governing authority or the social and moral order which authority considers itself bound to protect” (Abraham 357).
We shouldn’t have to censor; the media should be able to just put out the facts, right? But so far we still hang in the limbo between fact and opinion. The Idea is for the media to police the government, but as Lisa Orr said, “Nobody checks the checker” (63).
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The news media would argue that they are just doing their jobs. The public interests are being fulfilled in their views. As the reporter George Stephanopoulous said: “It is our job, as the media, to report about what the public wants. If they want to hear about [it] then we’ll report about it. We need to write about what the public wants in order to keep them buying newspapers” (Nachman 26). To the media, putting out tainted fact is just what the public wants.
If the media does not start regulating its publications, I believe we as a people need to put into place a regulatory system of some kind. We need to start hearing the facts, not someone’s paraphrased version.
Abraham, Henry J. “Censorship.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 1968 ed.
Deskowitz, Paul. Emergence of a Free Press. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Nachman, Louis. “About the media Circus.” The New York Times 26 June 1994: 26.
Orr, Lisa. Free Press, Free People, The Best Cause. London: Columbia University Press, 1971.