Who needs freedom of the press?

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Who needs freedom of the press?

Postby charlesp » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:10 am

I can't believe the results of this poll by the BBC. Large portions of the world give freedom of the press a lower importance than "stability and peace." Things really must look better through those rose colored glasses. I do at least find some comfort in the US leading the pack in perceived importance of freedom of the press, but it doesn't bode well for "world peace" if nobody else cares.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7134918.stm

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Postby timberline » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:05 am

Further to the point, Americans seem not to favor shield laws, are doubtful about the value of the first Amendment, and place the media somewhere down among used-car salespeople.

Let's hope people come back from Beijing next summer with a new-found appreciation for freedom of the press.
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Postby jt752 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:20 am

When a government controls the press it seems easy, apparantly, to brainwash people into thinking that freedom of the press is trivial.
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Postby timberline » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:59 am

JT, it's not that people are "brainwashed" when the government controls the media, but that other freedoms are curtailed. In China, Yahoo, Microscoft and Cisco have gone belly-up to kowtow to the government controlling disidents. In the U.S., Nixon tried to censor the New York Times' publication of the Pentagon Papers before publication. The Bush administration has also salted press conferences with counterfeit journalists and argued in favor of censorship for reasons of "state security."

I think the greatest problem is the low esteem that the fourth estate is held in the public's mind; that the media are biased, inaccurate and controlled by special interests. In a survey, otherwise intelligent Americans said it would be a danger to give "anyone" the right to publish any views. Yet, this right was established in 1733 in New York City--long before the Bill of Rights was established. (Check out an extremely important law case involving John Peter Zenger, at http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/project ... count.html.)
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Postby TheMudge » Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:54 am

I don't think that necessarily negates JT's point, though, Timber: I don't think the press is deliberately brainwashing the public . . . but there IS a certain amount of manipulation going on. News organizations thrive on sensation . . . therefore, EVERYTHING is sensationalized. Are we being brainwashed into thinking Freedom of Press isn't important? Hell, no . . . how would THAT help them?

But are we being brainwashed into thinking that where a president sticks his cigar is as important or more important than making false claims to lead the country into a pointless police action? Yeah, maybe we are.
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Postby charlesp » Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:07 pm

timberline wrote:Further to the point, Americans seem not to favor shield laws, are doubtful about the value of the first Amendment, and place the media somewhere down among used-car salespeople.

Let's hope people come back from Beijing next summer with a new-found appreciation for freedom of the press.


One of the tertiary bits of info in the article is that while 70% of the US thinks Freedom of the Press is important, only 50ish percent think our press really is "free" (well, according to the graphic in the article which gives percentage who rank their press freedom a 4 or 5 on a 5 point scale... and I don't find yet if that means they think the government is impeding the press freedom or that they just think "the press" is corrupted in some manner), while 72% of India's responders think theirs IS free, only 45%ish apparently care. Russia falls pretty low on the "we think it's important" scale, and on the think their press actually is free scale as well.

sidenote to Timber: interesting Intelligence Squared debate downloadable from NPR on "Is Russia becoming our enemy again" with the Politkovskaya situation discussed in there somewhere.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=16020502

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Postby xcheck24 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:22 pm

*sigh* i'm never ceased to be amazed.
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Postby timberline » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:51 am

In all of this discussion, we've referred to media as a generalized, undifferentiated business. Last night, I listened to NPR news on a not-for-profit station and then watched GE's and Time-Warner's shrieking mouthpieces. What a world of difference! Perhaps the pollsters might ask respondents which newspapers and stations the respondents are referring to.
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Postby jt752 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:34 am

Good point. I watch the BBC World News on Saturday nights, sometimes during the week. Completely different outlook on stories.
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Postby TheMudge » Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:44 am

I think THAT is a huge factor. I read a survey a couple years back where, across the board, the respondents who got their information from talk radio almost exclusively were the ones who felt they were the MOST informed . . . AND . . . were also the ones that FAILED a very basic current events quiz, thereby suggesting that they were the WORST informed.

I don't remember what was on the quiz, but I remember I took it and got, like, 80% . . . and I have NO idea what's going on in the real world.

Having said all that . . . my point (or Timber's, really) is that the source can make all the difference. BUT . . . how does NPR compare to, say, Reuters or the BBC? EVERYone has a slant . . . seems that, to be truly informed, one should research SEVERAL sources, consider what the sources stand to gain or lose, and (*gasp*) maybe make one's OWN decision, based on experience and common sense.

On the other hand, that's a lot of work. Which is why I have no idea what's going on in the real world. :D
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Postby timberline » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:52 am

Re. this thought on current events, remember that Little Bush knew only one elected leader of another country (Vicente Fox) before being elected, and Huckabee just confessed he'd never heard of the National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iran's cessation of nuclear weapons manufacture.

Unfortunately, ignorance can equate to success regardless of the media.
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Postby charlesp » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:55 am

I think the source is a pretty "western" concept. Kasparov has made the point about Putin's high-approval rating per the media in Russia. If Bush had the level of control over all media that Putin did, he could have a high "approval rating" too. "The press" is a term that has more divisional slants in places like the US and UK I think. If you look at a LOT of countries, there aren't as many choices of the "do I get my news from the liberals or the conservatives" variety. It's more of a unified thing, for good or ill, so "the source" is really not as relevent in quite possibly the majority of those countries polled.

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Postby TheMudge » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:39 am

But if that is the case, then people in those countries may be justified in not seeing the importance of freedom of press, since they have nothing to equate it with.
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Postby charlesp » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:48 am

I wouldn't say that they'd be justified in not seeing the importance of it as much as they'd be justified in not believing their press is free. A LOT depends on how the polling was performed and how it was presented.

From what we know about it, based on the article, though, it was presented as "is it more important to maintain social harmony and peace, even if it means curbing the press's freedom to report news truthfully? or is it more important for the press to be able to accurately report what's happening?"

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Postby charlesp » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:57 am

BTW, the PDF you can download has a lot more info in it, like how the response was to questions about large corporations owning the media outlets, etc.

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Postby charlesp » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:04 pm

and also what the questions were, etc. I think it's required reading for X, but it's interesting reading even if you're not X :D

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Postby xcheck24 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:17 pm

the problem in many cases is that people don't diversify the news that they read or view or listen to. in the age of slanted news (and I'm personally an AP reader because the Associated Press is the least slanted), you have to get your news from more than one source to get every fact and every view.

but people tend to go for the news source they agree with. They watch O'Reilly because they agree with him. They watch Keith Olbermann because they agree with him. And by not watching anything else, they're not getting the other viewpoints. and it's important, IMO, to get all the viewpoints in order to be a better, more informed person.

that's what the whole freedom of speech and press is about. it's about uncovering the truth and getting everyone's viewpoint out there. by hearing everyone's view we can get to that kernel of truth and be a better society.

but if people ignore the other viewpoints and only hear one side, it'll never happen.

of course, many people shout down the other side these days. they don't debate to learn (which is why I debate). they debate to win. and not just win. win and crush their opponents into silence.
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Postby pengwenn » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:59 am

If the press is suppose to be unbaised then why are newspapers (Des Moines Register and the Boston Globe) endorsing a particular candidate (John McCain)? That doesn't seem fair and impartial to me.
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Postby JillStar » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:13 pm

I tried not to get involved, but just couldn't remain silent. :)

I think opinions should remain in the editorials... unfortunately, many leading journalists emphasize their opinions whether directly, by saying what they feel, or indirectly by they way they speak.

I remember listening to the news in my grandmother's home and feeling comforted... now I just feel angry. It comes to this... if I want an opinion, I will read the editorials. We were instructed to only report the facts when I was in journalism and received a lower grade if we got too colorful or tried to direct what others thought.

... and I don't believe in polls any more... it may sound like the same old argument but truly... no one calls my number and they certainly can.

And I have a feeling I would not agree with many opinions here on WT of the past president vs. the current president, so I won't even go there. I will say this... if my boyfriend's mothers doesn't stop saying crap in front of my step-son that causes him to call our president just "Bush" or say "he caused this or that" when he's just 11 years old and doesn't know what he's talking about, I think I'll scream. Blaming one man is ignorant. Creating disrespect for what is supposed to be a respectful position in our country (no matter how much past or current presidents mess it up) is only going to cause chaos for future generations who will impeach at the drop of a hat or cheer when a man gets assassinated. I hope I'm dead when it happens.

But that's just my opinion and I've been pretty angry lately to the point of not even listening to what's happening any more. Sigh... I hope we can get back on track and stop the inner fighting in America before we're too weak from smacking each other around to realize that all the rights we fight over are no longer available... for anyone.

p.s. I agree with X when it comes to people only listening to one side of the story. My boyfriend's mom is home bound and only listens to the news channels that tell her what she wants to hear and then bombs him with what she has heard (they are opposite when it comes to politics). It's like going to a court room and only hearing the defence attorney... of course you will side with him if you don't hear the whole story!
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Postby JillStar » Sun Dec 23, 2007 10:44 am

xcheck24 wrote:the problem in many cases is that people don't diversify the news that they read or view or listen to. in the age of slanted news (and I'm personally an AP reader because the Associated Press is the least slanted), you have to get your news from more than one source to get every fact and every view.

but people tend to go for the news source they agree with. They watch O'Reilly because they agree with him. They watch Keith Olbermann because they agree with him. And by not watching anything else, they're not getting the other viewpoints. and it's important, IMO, to get all the viewpoints in order to be a better, more informed person.

that's what the whole freedom of speech and press is about. it's about uncovering the truth and getting everyone's viewpoint out there. by hearing everyone's view we can get to that kernel of truth and be a better society.

but if people ignore the other viewpoints and only hear one side, it'll never happen.

of course, many people shout down the other side these days. they don't debate to learn (which is why I debate). they debate to win. and not just win. win and crush their opponents into silence.


I decided to come back to this point that X made... I agree completely that people shouting down others is a major problem. Here's what happens... people with two different opinions get into a conversation and one of them is bullied by the other. The one being bullied throws his hands in the air and walks away... defeated. The one doing the bullying feels he/she has won and somehow either made a great point or changed the way the other person thinks... when in fact, the only thing that happened was a relationship was broken.

Freedom of the press is very important but from what I've seen and read lately in my world... it seems that the media is slanted. Now that being said, someone else who thinks differently than me may think the media is slanted in a different direction. Which one of us is right? I think it goes back to which media a person is reading/listening to when you're trying to get to the "truth". We read those publications or listen to those talk show hosts that tell us how right our side is... then we go out and listen to the "regular" media and it seems slanted.

To be truthful... I don't search out those forms of media that make me upset. I agree with a particular way of thinking more than the other way of thinking but that doesn't mean I can't get into a conversation with someone who thinks differently so long as we can remain civil. I don't like being yelled at or told I'm an idiot.

I don't want time to go by quicker than it does... but I'm NOT looking forward to this next year because the debates are getting nastier and nastier as the years go by. I just want it to be done! And I suppose no matter who takes over... that person will be wrong... I wouldn't wish the presidency on anyone. :-P
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Postby xcheck24 » Sun Dec 23, 2007 11:39 am

I always said I knew I was doing my job when everyone was mad at me.
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Postby JillStar » Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:43 pm

That's funny!! :wink:
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Postby bfsooner » Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:00 pm

I think X makes an excellent point. I have family members who exclusively listen to NPR and others who exclusively watch Fox News. I try to ride the middle. I like listening to Diane Rehm on NPR, Glenn Beck (who makes me laugh more than I would like to admit), and then I just kind of flip the rest of the day. Sometimes NPR makes me spitting mad, and sometimes conservative radio makes me spitting mad and vice versa. I probably wouldn't fair well on a current event test, but I think I might do better than the average person. Mudge has a point that researching both sides of an issue taking too much time. I just focus on those issues that mean a squat to me. There are some news outlets I trust and others I line my cat's litter box with. Basically, I trust with what makes sense to me.
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Postby donduck » Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:37 am

I am becoming cynical and don't fully believe anything. Because I know 30 years from now there will be documentaries on "the truth of _________" or "what REALLY happened at the ______________." You get the picture.
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