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Is it possible to have a democracy with a "free" press?

Mark1031

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Interesting piece on the reporting during the 2000 election here.

Basically the problem is that the media that most people get information from, the “free” press, is not free but sells adverts. Thus it must first entertain to attract viewers. Thus, it picks up story lines about candidates that are distorted caricatures and offers little actual information. It would be like having to get kids to go to school w/o laws or parental pressure or consequences for your future but just because you wanted to go. What do you think that would do to the information content of the classroom. Is it really a democracy when the primary information one has to make a decision on is based on the entertainment quality required to sell corn flakes? I’m particularly curious how other countries handle their elections. In many the campaigns are very short, by law I think. Does the media treat elections seriously with boring policy info or as a game of personality for entertainment value?
 
Basically the problem is that the media that most people get information from, the “free” press, is not free but sells adverts.

By "free" press they mean free thinking and speaking. Not something you buy for nothing or operates for nothing.
 
The problem is that we live in a world where most people are stupid, and sadly those people are allowed to vote.
 
Not a clue, who's Gore?

The problem is that people believe the rubbish in the Sun and the Star and then vote for parties that are not in the best interests of them or the larger populace, but are in the interest of Mr Murdoch and the other super rich that control the world's media.
 
Not a clue, who's Gore?

The problem is that people believe the rubbish in the Sun and the Star and then vote for parties that are not in the best interests of them or the larger populace, but are in the interest of Mr Murdoch and the other super rich that control the world's media.

I read the Sun, does that make me stupid?

The reason I read the Sun is because I like to use the other side of my brain sometimes - topless women, funny headlines, silly stories.

Remember, a democracy only acts on 51% of the voting population.

Of that 51%, the media only needs to "get to" the "policially swayable" percentile, which may be only 10% of voters, which in turn equates to an even smaller percentage of the entire population, say 5%.

If this fraction (the portion of society I have just described above) are "stupid", then you might well say that we have a successful society.

But in politics, this 5% is huge. So when newspapers target "stupid" people for political gains, they aren't manipulating the majority and dumbing down society.

The "intelligent" majority always seem to complain about politicians and how stupid they are.

It might be seen that the "intelligent" majority are the stupid ones because they let the "stupid" politicians and "stupid" 5% minority decide who is in power.
 
There is no such thing as the free press, at least with regard to the major outlets such as CNN, FoxNews, or MSNBC. They're all beholden to major corporations for those advertisement dollars and to the government for access. The only reliable source of information is the free internet-based news groups. At this point, you'd be more accurately informed to not watch the news at all. Even though you might know less, at least you wouldn't be lied to on a daily basis and have the hard task of sorting through it all.
 
There is no such thing as the free press, at least with regard to the major outlets such as CNN, FoxNews, or MSNBC. They're all beholden to major corporations for those advertisement dollars and to the government for access. The only reliable source of information is the free internet-based news groups. At this point, you'd be more accurately informed to not watch the news at all. Even though you might know less, at least you wouldn't be lied to on a daily basis and have the hard task of sorting through it all.

In addition, there isnt really such a thing as an non-biased or free opinion press either. They all spin stuff the way they wish, one way or another.
 
There is no "free" will without a majority rule by the uninformed will. All information/knowledge (and especially that which is purported to be "free") should be banned.

Anarchy via ignorance - hey, whatever it takes - let's just get rid of those damned different perspectives that're hornswaggling mankind.
 
If people want to make decisions based on silly caricatures or punny headlines then I guess that's democracy....

I think the BBC does a damn good job here in the UK. Lots of people watch it, and it provides facts with minimal bias. "Certain" (American) posters will no doubt tell me I'm wrong, and that the BBC is just as biased as Fox or something, but frankly I don't care... To any impartial observer, the BBC is clearly THE most unbiased news source there is, and probably the closest we'll ever get to pure unbiased reporting.
 
There is no "free" will without a majority rule by the uninformed will. All information/knowledge (and especially that which is purported to be "free") should be banned.

Anarchy via ignorance - hey, whatever it takes - let's just get rid of those damned different perspectives that're hornswaggling mankind.

What is that majority are people who voted for Bush?
 
The current media situation is a pretty big threat to democracy, however, less reporting would be just as much of a threat. The problem is that people run the newsmedia, and all have their biases: what to talk about, what not to, and what words to use while doing so. The result is that people are told what to think rather than given the means to do so themselves.

This has always been the case, though; the American Revolution was helped along by the newspapers of the time, as was the War Between the States, as was the Spanish-American War, as was WWI, as was the current military exercise in Iraq.

I suppose if we had robots writing the news and cameras with no added commentary, we'd have a more honest press, but then, who watches C-SPAN anyway?
 
the extent to which a press is free is, IMO, pretty much the extent to which it is decentralized, which is why the internets is so good.
 
Gore actually talks about the media situation in his latest book, The Assault on Reason, and he paints a pretty strong picture that it is a major problem. He also makes the point that with most people getting news from tv, you don't have a dialogue occurring like you had when we just used newspapers (which do welcome opinions from readers). Even radio used to be pretty good, because we had laws that insured a variety of perspectives and opinion.

Right now it is so easy to get news that so heavily biased to your preconceived notions that you don't have to think at all -- and that is very bad for democracy.
 
The problem is that we live in a world where most people are stupid, and sadly those people are allowed to vote.

You dont think stupid people vote for people like Gore?
Stupid people voted for Bush as well.

However, that's not important really. As long as you have independent press. And if you think of independent press you think more of Europe than of America were press is someone's possession.
 
If people want to make decisions based on silly caricatures or punny headlines then I guess that's democracy....

No it is not democracy. I don't know what you would call it but it is like if I give you the choice of 2 used cars (no returns allowed) and tell you only about the color and the fuzzy dice that come with one. Now would you say you have a free choice if you have no other information.

Also it is not about bias. Bias is unavoidable. It is about not discussing substantive questions even in a biased manner because personal caricatures “arrogant, nice guy, dumb guy, regular guy, elitist, nice haircut, expensive haircut” are more entertaining to talk about and sell more corn flakes.

Now there is some substantive discussion but these caricatures just take off and are easier and more entertaining to talk about so the substance is drowned out.
 
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