The role of the press…
The power of the press…
The freedom of the press…
And thus, the problem with the press.
Let’s be concise — respectful, as always, too…
The role of the press in a democratic society is to provide information to ordinary citizens.
The freedom of the press — declared in the First Amendment — is the free exercise and right not to be censored. This “Fourth Estate” (or “fourth power”) as some have historically referred to the press, denotes an additional set of checks and balances that an uncensored press provides for government.
The power of the press, as admirably articulated by Donald A. Ritchie in his 1987 critique of The Power of the Press: The Birth of American Political Reporting by Thomas C. Leonard, is “that time-worn cliché” that “often eludes definition.” Ritchie referred to correspondents who “routinely crowed about their power to make and unmake the reputations of public men, while at the same time many of them bowed and scraped for patronage and wrote predictably partisan dispatches.” The power of the press is the ability to “make” or “unmake” any man or woman of their choosing.
Hence, then the problem with the press…
The “press” evolved from the printing press, simply referring to what is published or put into print.
Journalism is something better and more. Emerson College, one of the nation’s top schools for journalism, promotes their degree as follows, “Although technology has revolutionized the ways in which we share and consume the news, the principles and values that govern journalism remain the same. At Emerson’s Department of Journalism, you’ll learn how to tell stories that increase public understanding and awareness.”
So we increase understanding by the sharing and consumption of news.
Consistent with its etymological definition, “news” means new information; information means provided facts. That means that news is absent of partiality and bias. So when bias is added to news, news becomes opinion. Opinion and news are not the same thing. The opinions of the editorial page have migrated to the front page, disguised as news.
So question: where do you get your “news”?
Second question: are you instead listening to opinion?
CNN, FOX, MSNBC… The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Examiner… each (and more) is full of opinion. Opinion, as stated, is not news.
Allow me one, brief example — on a subject the Intramuralist intends to soon address. When the news broke in March that North Korea is now willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up nuclear weapons, I quickly surveyed the immediate “breaking news” on the three television stations mentioned above. One was glowing; one was glaring; and one was skeptical. Tell me the news, please. We don’t need the glow, glare, nor skepticism — none of which qualify as news.
The problem with the press is that multiple media offerings insert their bias and still act as if such qualifies as news.
Said Gary Ackerman, the former Democratic congressman from New York: “The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment.”
People get confused between news and entertainment.
People get confused between news and opinion.
Intelligent people get confused.
Hence, the problem with the press…