What Are The Pros And Cons Of Freedom Of The Press?

Georges van Hoegaerden
Georges van Hoegaerdenhttps://www.methodeva.com/georges/
Founder, Author, and Managing Director of methodEVA.

The pros are obvious, to provide a healthy counterbalance to the wrath of unchecked governmental power. But those pros assume the press is not enthralled in the wrath of its own powers.

Freedom of any kind cannot exist without its paradox. A paradox too loosely applied to the press and in desperate need of readjustment. Notice in the image above how the bobblehead reporters at CNN, debating with each other, believe the world is sincerely interested in their opinion rather than getting reports of the facts as they happen.

Fake news

To wit, CNN, as a leading news-centric channel, has become smut television, with endless talking-heads pondering the news as a cheap sell-out, without verifiable or meaningful merit endlessly regurgitating their opinions as if it were news. Incessantly laced in, supported by, and no doubt ruled by companies promoting endless advertising of toe-nail fungus medicine and the like.

Other news channels follow the same revenue optimization techniques to compete, entirely different from reporting the news as it happens when it happens – the precise reason why Ted Turner conceived CNN back in the day and how he changed the deplorable news scene of its time. Without his leadership, CNN has turned mediocre again, as all corporations without the checks and balances of a meritocracy become.

News production has lost its collective mind and merit as a counterbalance to our lawmakers. Not in the least driven by the sensational socialism inherent to social media as now its fastest-growing distribution. Reporters are deemed to have merit and put on a pedestal only when their likes or shares on social media reach a certain threshold. A rat race for populism promulgating an agenda entirely different from the integrity of the news and the importance of its long-tail that matters.

Quest for cause

Last but not least, as I realized in my interactions with the national (and international) press, with the advent of the internet as its accelerant, the focal point of the media has turned into quick short-form hits, with the shallow description and coverage of consequential events disconnected from a plausible relationship to cause.

Not unlike how I once called a much-lauded national reporter in finance a proverbial weatherman, who related to a subject close to my heart proclaimed, say, “climate issues to be irrelevant because it snowed that day.” The press has, on the whole, become a rebel without a cause, with cheap reporting of a maelstrom of consequential events blissfully detached from sound insight into cause.

So, yes, the press needs to be held accountable to portray and be deemed suitable to hold our elected officials to account. And we must ensure the media itself is not equally flawed as the presidency, the latter from which some 85% of our population has already been disenfranchised by abandoning the electoral process.

Spin doctors

We have plenty of instruments in our democratic process to hold our President to account. And if not, we better modify our constitution to redefine and adjust those controls. The press must be able to speak its mind, like all of us. And then, let the merit of their wisdom determine whether they should be taken seriously or not. The press has sunken very low, and I am glad they are being challenged, as we all should be.

The press has lost my confidence, and I speak with many leaders in their respective lines of work who feel exactly like I do. And I paraphrase former FBI director James Comey;

Just because you are talking about something (frequently) doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.

James Comey

Let us also not forget how the press turned Michael Jackson into a villain no court in the land could prove he was—the source of knowledge of the media derived from anything but the source.

The sign of an intelligent nation is its willingness and ability to reinvent itself, upstream. Let’s inspire the world with new rigors of excellence we first and successfully apply to ourselves.

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