Freedom of the press is one of our celebrated freedoms in the United States. The freedom to say what you want and do what you want, as long as it is not overly obscene, is one of the founding principles of this most successful of nations.
I still believe this is true. However, freedom speech and the press are perhaps different from the media. The media, I would say, is something different. While speech and press include the ability to write what you want and say what you want without punishment, the media is a group, an organization.
This distinction is important. The “Media” is a group of companies, not really individuals, who publish information. The “Media” is something more than just speech and publishing. The “Media” is made up of, usually, large conglomerates who control the flow of information.
One of the reasons we have a freedom of the press is because the government can abuse the flow of information by restricting that which is negative to its foundations. This would mean that the government could abuse, jail, or ruin people who said bad things about it. The freedom to say what you want was not recognized and it restricted free thought. Another is that the government can manipulate messages to its favor, especially without a contrary message being conveyed.
This is a good thing to not allow a government to control the messaging, precisely because of the abuses it can create both in its own messaging and in restricting other messages. Interestingly, if the government could be impartial and allow contrary thought, there would be no concern.
However, we don’t trust a government to be impartial. We expect the government will act in its own best interest. We trust ourselves more than we trust the government.
But there’s just one problem: we tend to look out for our own best interest, too, and so do companies. This is not to say we shouldn’t trust ourselves more than the government, only that we should be wary of what we can do, too.
So, what can happen? And is it actually happening? Well, what I see happening is an erosion of the mores that kept the “Media” impartial. I see the “Media” acting to protect its own identities and aims. It is not, therefore, really concerned with the truth. Rather, it has become exactly what it fears from a government: self serving.
What makes the “Media” worse than a government acting in this way is that the “Media” can say it is independent and not biased, even when that is precisely what the “Media” has become.
To answer my question, such a media is not a net positive. Such a media abuses its power and seek to shut down opposition just as a government can do. It serves no one but its own good. It can influence policy aims and get the public to agree with it if no one is there to oppose it. And that is what it wants.
This system is dangerous, and it must be stopped. This does not mean we must shut down the freedom of speech or the press; it means we need to rethink how our media system works and is run. Massive corporations cannot be trusted to disseminate information any more fairly than would a government. I suggest at least a breaking down of these companies so that they cannot control the message to the extent they do. Get more voices in the market and take away the scale that allows a paper like the NYT to dominate.
Is this anti free market? I don’t think so. I think it is free market at a high level. Give people choices to make and give them more than one story. Also, the conveyance of news information is not like buying a car. This is how people are educated and become aware of the world around them.
Our current system is indeed dangerous, and action should be considered to alter how news and information is conveyed to a public who knows no different than what they are told.