Journalism and Democracy part 2

The following post is the second installment of a topic I hold near and dear to me. This page actually reflects a reply I submitted in response to a comment of one of my readers. I am posting this page because I believe that the topic is important and should be examined publicly. For this, I just want to say thank you to ‘Anonymous’ for getting this blog-train rolling.

The following is just a copy and paste of my response with some additional details at the end:

Anonymous,

I appreciate your time in becoming active and engaged in my blog. I apologize for my delay in responding. As for my opinion on the media? I must say that I agree in many respects. What the United States considers ‘media’ has become bastardized and partisan more and more over the years. True journalism retains the idea of impartial information and has no party agenda. The ‘major’ media outlets have shifted away from the goal of journalism and have adopted a role of entertainment as opposed to social informants.

True journalism presents the facts and allows the citizenry to propose their own values in accordance. While there is no doubt that both Fox News and MSNBC touch base on many important issues, they abandon their role in the name of partisan affiliation. Once opinion is injected into the news, it no longer serves it’s purpose: to inform, instead, to persuade. Journalism doesn’t have an agenda.

As for the other media outlets? I still have faith that they hold the best interest of the nation at heart. I may be naive in this assumption, but I refuse to believe that such a pure institution can be so adversely corrupted that it will completely lose it’s true purpose. There is no doubt that political influence has become infused in much of the content we read and/or view, but until the majority party or leader is able to successfully censor negative publicity, I believe that we will retain our democratic roots.

Human beings, indeed, are corruptible. Political influence, bribery or even transparent threats can shift the most solid of foundations. Journalism, though, is pure. Even if the institution eventually declines into an ideology while it’s practice decays, the idea of journalism’s role will remain. I hope to never see the day that true journalism is abandoned altogether.

However, there is no doubt that the industry has been dying over the past few decades. The industry has had a long and perilous journey since the days of Murrow and Cronkite. I still believe that journalism will survive. It may take extreme measures, and we may see society sink into something truly fascist or authoritarian before it makes it’s reappearance, but the idea will never die.

This all being said, I believe the true problem is not with media’s blind-eye policy or partisan affiliation…the problem is the public. We have entered an age where no one cares like they used to. Far too few people hold even a basic knowledge in the socio-political structure that surrounds them. As long as they can play Angry Birds, why worry about their social surroundings? The problem is that the public has become pacified by technology and entertainment and the majority cares more about the apps on their phone than life-changing congressional proceedings.

Sadly, this will continue to be the case and will continually get worse. The issue is terminal. It will take the loss of such conveniences to wake people up. This, I believe, accounts for much of the problems we see in media today? With a society that cares more for entertainment than information, media has to adjust to the public. That’s why we’ve seen journalism abandoned and ‘pretty’ media emerge.

I will end with this. If Joseph McCarthy were around today, he would find much more success in his agenda. Kim and Kanye’s baby is more important.

*********

It is my honest belief that journalism’s role expands far beyond that of an actor who operates in the background of the political system. Journalism’s role is far more interactive and proactive than that of a watchdog/informant. My next statement reflects an idea that is taught in journalism courses in the world of academia, however, it is a detail that I believe merits public acknowledgement and debate:

Journalism is, by all means, the fourth branch of government. While the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature operate with the intent of balancing and distributing power, preventing authoritarianism by any single branch, Journalism is mobilized in the pursuit of balancing power amongst the totality of the political system.

Journalism concentrates its intent in the prevention of tyranny, the exposure of corrupt practices, misappropriation of public support by means of deception or manipulation and the selfish individual pursuit of political self-interest.

As I mentioned previously, Journalism has deviated far from its purest form. It has become tarnished by means of partisanship, succumbing to political pressure and shifting towards the goal of entertainment as opposed to hard news. The political system, however, and its unlimited supply of indirect politicians has made me cynical towards the idea of democracy.

It is sad, in my opinion, that people have simply come to accept that politics is a dirty game. Democracy should not be like this. There needs to be a public outcry for a greater transparency in government. It is my observations that have led me to believe that the more skilled of the orator, the greater predisposition these individuals hold to become corrupt and dishonest.

Allow me to elaborate. The more adept a politician is in the way of public speaking and speech recitation, the more likely they are to use their skills for manipulation and deceit. I have seen politicians respond to difficult questions in such great length and detail, yet never hit upon a relevant point and stray far from answering the question. Wordsmithing and speech manipulation have become a focal point for politicians. It is a way to imitate a sense of progress and accomplishment without actually doing a damn thing in the way of social policy. It is these individuals who drain democracy and prevent positive social progress.

These individuals are dangerous.

My point being…the media need to concentrate their individual interest in promoting greater transparency in government. The media are continually losing their aggression and fervor in regards to the exposure of the indirect dealings of politicians. The media need to strengthen their spines, so to say, and push politicians for answers rather than accepting their message at face value.

Journalists have the power of influence. This is their flaming sword. All that it takes to promote needed change is aggressive reporting and mass exposure. While I cannot blame some media for shifting toward ‘pretty’ news in order to hold the attention of an increasingly immature society, the media must be vocal enough, insistent enough and aggressive enough to make the nation look away from their smart devices long enough to demand social change.

If the fourth branch were to fall, Democracy would finally be pulled from its life support. We need to do all we can to move our nation from ICU to recovery and all it will take is for a minimal amount of attention towards the ideas and events that actually matter.

And for God’s sake America…get off your lazy ass and vote.

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