Grad school post: Contributions to a democratic society

Dad always told me to consider the consequences, which of course I rarely did because when you’re a kid the future is some abstract thing which happens sometime after the next test, basketball game or crush.

In my graduate level Social Role class we’ve been discussing the contributions of free press to a democratic society. It’s easy to see, but comes with some conditions.

As consumers of information, we have to know that there is a constant threat of manipulation. Free press allows journalists access and the right to hold elected officials, government agencies, and the common man accountable for their actions. Without it, choose your favorite tyrannical government or dystopian novel. Free press allows me to sit at a cafe, order coffee and contribute to the online forum of thought using this blog. We all have a voice should we choose, but that’s not the problem. The problem has to do with the ears, or in the case of the Internet, eyes. We chastise and ridicule media outlets, which is our right, but shouldn’t we take a minute to appreciate their existence? What is the alternative?

There are media outlets which have reporting tendencies and that’s probably smart. Keeping the readers or viewers in mind is sound business practice, and there will always be a market for a voice for all the sides we as the American public decide to take. If all the news sounded the same, wouldn’t that be scarier than a story seen through a slight tint of bias? It’s the role of the media to report ethically and objectively. No question. It might be ethically wrong to intentionally adjust the truth to make it resound with an audience, but again, the reader or viewer has to take on a similar degree of accountability.

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