" We are the best entertained least informed society in the world."

-Neil Postman

From e-mail


Is the U.S. Press Really Free?

Although we claim to have a free press in the United States, when I compare what I see on my local TV station with what I've seen in countries like England and Canada, it seems as if a lot is missing....

You are right that while countries like Canada and England go into news events in some depth, TV news in the U.S. tends to be much more ratings conscious, featuring much more in the way of what's of interest to the public rather than what's in the public's best interest.

In this regard two other things must be kept in mind.

First, many people who sit on the boards of these conglomerates also sit on the board of directors of major U.S. corporations that are not associated with the media.

Second, with these large corporations contributing a lion's share of political contributions, business interests tend to drive political interests and decisions.

Even reporters at esteemed news organizations such as The New York Times and the seemingly independent PBS claim stories have been being "killed" and respected, prize-winning reporters being fired or "reassigned" for delving into stories that would have a negative financial impact on corporate concerns.

In viewing the impact of conglomerates on U.S. culture media critic Mark Crispin Miller wrote:

The true cause of the enormous ills that now dismay so many American—the universal sleaze and 'dumbing down,' the flood-tide of corporate propaganda, the terminal insanity of United States politics—has risen not form any grand decline in national character...but from the inevitable toxic influence of those few corporations that have monopolized culture.

At the same time, we must remember that today there are more sources of news available to people than at any time in history.

And while it's true that most people—specifically most of the people who vote—get their news from conglomerate-owned news operations, any person who wants to search for other news sources has a cornucopia of choices to choose from.

The problem is that most people don't consult alternative sources of news, don't read a daily newspaper, and pay scant attention even to TV news.

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