|I have for many years, studied the Constitution of the United States, forward and backward and to this day I can still find nothing in it gives the press the freedom to write what they wish with little or no consequences. The first Amendment states:|
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Do you see anything in this Amendment that gives the press free reign? I do not want to seem like I am calling on limitations of the press but I am calling for a responsible press. The press we have today seems to not only be biased but to actually have an agenda. What happen to a press that just reported the news and left the decision
making up to the people?
To understanding how the news media has become what it is today you also need to understand a little of the law. To successfully litigate and win against a news organization the burden of proof is most often on the victim to prove “Malice and aforethought.” In other words it is almost impossible to win against the press even in the most grievant of situations.
What do we then do to reign in a press that has become rampant? Well, for one we need to make sure that there is fairness. In other words, if an honest mistake is made on page 1, then the correction needs to be on page 1. Editors and Publishers need to reinforce to their news people that AT LEAST 2 or 3 sources must confirm a story for it to be reported. Barring that, other cooperating evidence needs to be introduced.
Ethics and responsibility should be the prime focus of a free press. Report all sides of an issue and then leave it alone. Editorials should be on the editorial page and that's it.
An example of slanting the news:
Newspaper number 1 states that when the accident occurred a bystander reported the vehicles driver was “driving like a maniac.”
Newspaper number 2 states that when the accident occurred a bystander reported the vehicles driver “may have been speeding.”
Newspaper number 3 states that an accident occurred and it is currently under investigation by the police.
Same exact accident but with three different stories leading to three very different conclusions. Of course, the most accurate representation of the accident is newspaper number 3.
This slanting of the news can be dangerous when a reporter, editor or publisher has a hidden agenda such as to get someone elected. If the “news” is constantly slanted against a candidate the people do not get a fair representation of the person and therefore cannot make an accurate vote at the ballot box. This reduces our freedom to make an informed choice.
The news media in all its forms must regulate themselves or in the end a Constitutional Amendment may be necessary to limit them to just telling the truth. Hmmm, novel idea.
At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide... Lincoln.
Steven J. Newton
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