The Collision of Journalism and Consumerism

2009, Media  -  57 min Leave a Comment
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Any impairment of the free press' circulation to the people diminishes the efficiency and the value therefore of the democracy. In a democracy since the citizens are "running things" and deciding who's in office and making very important decisions when they go to vote, it's extremely important that they should be well informed and well educated about what they're voting on.

The majority of the media still do not serve the public interest. Democracy relies on an educated electorate and if the electorate is not educated you can't have democracy. You've got a democracy by the mob. You can't run a modern society without educating the population. But you can't educate them just on technology or science; you need to educate them to think.

Meanwhile we have political leaders promising democracy, free and fair elections, and those leaders have continued to control the media. Today there is actually less press freedom in most of the former Soviet republics than there was in the last years of Soviet communism. The issues in Ukraine, or Hungary, or Romania and in America have many similarities, and that is the challenge and tragedy of journalism everywhere.

At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991 there was great euphoria about what was going to follow in terms of democracy and free press. After a while it became obvious that things were much more complicated. People have a slightly idealistic view of how democratic, how independent and how free the western media is. Not so much because of the political restraints and constraints, but also because of the highly commercial nature of western news which somewhat limits the ways of conducting journalism.

You give the public what you believe it should get or you give the public what you believe the public wants? If you give the public what you believe the public should get then you and a very small group of people are deciding what news in a certain country is. If you are for profit enterprise and your job is to make money, then you want to reach the greatest amount of viewers you possibly can. And to do that you project your message to the lowest common denominator and you start covering things that could never be described as being real news.