Are recent purchases by billionaires threatening freedom of the press?
No. Not anymore than anyone else. You have made an inference- that someone who is rich – just because they are rich would deliberately distort the truth and misreport the news, or editorialize it (by slipping their own opinion into the mix to try to influence readers), or by selectively editing what they report, or by omitting factual information where the absence of those facts causes the reader to believe something different happened from what in reality occurred.
I believe your premise is in error. I do not believe that being “a billionaire” is synonymous with being unethical. Some may be. Some have been. But the two are not causally connected.
Might you be a bit prejudiced against the wealthy?
That said, some past behavior of very rich people controlling media HAS been very bad indeed.
Abuse of the press has happened before and not just once and not just recently.
Newspapers have always had a rough time fighting for readers to stay in business. Yellow journalism developed as a result and some thought it to be the solution to the lack of news. No news today? Let’s create some. Dishonest reporting has been with us a long, long time.
William Randolph Hearst who was chronicled in the film Citizen Kane is a fine example. He was a very, very rich man in his day, and not always an honest one. Ironically he became rich because of his dishonesty in reporting.
Read about yellow journalism here.
It does not surprise me at all that once again negative opinions about the press, specifically challenging the integrity of the New York Times and the Washington Post have surfaced. It is largely because of their vendetta reporting behavior under the guise of op-ed pieces. At least they are marked as editorial. Many think they show clear bias in their news gathering and reporting.
The bigger problem as I see it is with our broadcast media- NBC, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC, CNN AND BBC NEWS – seem to ALL ENGAGE in subjective distortion of the news they report.
I was also very disappointed in Katy Couric. This is from a more conservative journal. I was unable to find much on mainstream media.
Our press has been infatuated with the left for far too long. It needs to come more to center. They treasure their first amendment rights – but those rights come with the responsibility to report news honestly and fairly. They would argue they do. I would argue they do not.
So how does distortion happen? Someone in a news room, either because of their own bias or perhaps even news room policy decides to engage in a deliberate omission of a story from the news. They don’t even cover it. Sometimes it is by over emphasis, providing much more reporting on a story trying to make it bigger than it is. Sometimes it is by editing out key parts of a story, such as on TV news when they air a sound bite. Did the quote capture the full import of what was said? Often not.
Negative stories about people favored by the newsroom are often minimized, and those stories about those they dislike are pushed forward. Look at stories about Hillary and Donald. The Washington Post is reported to have hired 24 investigative reporters just to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. If that was normal policy about other stories it might be acceptable. But it isn’t.
I don’t know if the statistics contained in this following piece are still true, but back in 2009 CNN published this piece:
“A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that only 29% of Americans feel the media “generally gets the facts straight.” This is down from 55% in 1985. The new survey also found that 60% of Americans think news organizations are politically biased.”
You might also want to look at this piece.
The FCC- Federal Communications Commission makes it illegal to do the very thing some news organizations appear to be doing. It’s a fine line I suppose. Maybe that is why enforcement is so scant. Or maybe it’s politics?
Am I sounding a bit cynical? I’ve lived through good times. I know what news reporting used to be. It used to be accurate and it used to be dignified. Reporters didn’t give us their opinions or report using words that showed clear bias.
Sadly, news has become a profit center. Readers and viewers are needed. Sensationalism sells.
Maybe that’s the problem- all of us. We need to demand honesty and transparency in our news just like we desire it to be everywhere else.
Personally I think it’s time we evolve again. This time though, it’s back to the ethical standards we used to honor.
What are your thoughts on the integrity of today’s news reporting?
Think it matters much if a billionaire rather than the current corporations own a network?