Media Too Powerful? Exposure to the media is a constant event. It begins as soon as the radio or television are turned on, or as soon as a newspaper or magazine are opened. The television, radio, newspaper and magazines are all ready to give us their spin on the top stories of the day. Some try to give us facts, with as little of their input and thoughts as possible, some work only on rumors and inuendoes, while others give us facts but slanted to their way of thinking (Kurtz 1). The media contributes to public opinion and provides understanding of the news. The media entertains us, watches government and social institutions, and gives the public information for debate and discussion about local and international affairs. The media and journalists are protected under the lst Amendment, but does freedom of the press imply the freedom to be sensational, to be biased, to be inaccurate? Does the lst Amendment protect the media if it prints or discusses lewd or pornographic material at the expense of the general public? The government needs to take control of the media (Stengel 3). There is a need to get accurate information that is unbiased.
The media needs to be held accountable and not hide behind its cries of free speech and censorship. With some restrictions and some intergity, the media will still have plenty to report, debate, review, and still be a watch dog of sorts. The government is here for the protection of the people, and there are some areas that the media only endangers our safety, whether it is on health issues, privacy issues, or in international affairs. There are some places that the media does not have a very good perspective on national security or individual privacy (Stengel 1). The government could look at ways to assist the media on a bi- partisan approach.
It is time the media and our government does what is best for the American people, not for personal or political gain (Hannon 3). Government should put restrictions on the areas the media can report. Newspapers and magazines shape America’s views and opinions. Newspapers have diverse content, producing in-depth stories and news analysis. They represent many perspectives with a wide range in subject matter. Newspapers do investigating reporting, express personal opinion, reviews, as well as gossip.
Some newspapers are gossip oriented, while others are news and analysis oriented. There are specialized newspapers that have mass appeal with a national view (Merrill 1). Magazines appeal mainly to the elite, well-educated, and the opinion leaders. Generally, magazines are more incisive, interpretive and more comprehensive than newspapers (Merrill 3). The main function of newspapers are to inform and summarize, while magazines explain, criticize, interpret and comment. Magazines supplement newspapers (Berninghausen 4).
Radio and television have a significant place among the media. Radio mainly provides entertainment, although National Public Radio provides facts, views and opinions on many subjects. National Public Radio is noncommercial and is supported by the government as well as the public through donations (Merrill 3). Television produces on the spot broadcasts of major events, documentaries, political views and opinions, terrorist episodes, and international crises. Through satellites, news is flashed instantly from all over the world.
With cable television, some stations produce news reports twenty-four hours a day. Since the mid-1990’s, two-thirds of our nation’s homes are equipped with cable. The broadcast networks, including public television, are discussing new strategies for presenting the news (Beringhausen 8). The media has had a major impact on trials. They put forward information, interview prosecutors, attorneys, the accused, the accused relatives, and with all the information that is given, facts, opinions and views all seem to become distorted.
It isn’t possible for all to be telling the truth, and even when the accused goes to trial and a verdict is reached, the media second guesses what the judge and jury were thinking (Ross 1). Public opinion has no place in a trial. A judge and jury reaches a verdict based on the laws that pertain to a crime. The facts should be laid out and a decision made based on those facts (Ross 2). The Freeman of Montana were tried via the television before and during the trial by the media.
The views of the Freeman seemed so obsurd to the majority of the American public, it was a great topic for the media to pursue. It involved the rights of individuals as well as the rights of government. In essence, it placed the government against its own citizens. The Montana Freemen refuse to recognize the United States justice system. They would not participate in their own trial and felt they were above the laws of the United States. They had formed their own state and governing body. The Freeman are currently in jail awaiting additional trials under the United States jurisdiction (Pellegrini 1).
Oprah Winfrey felt she won a victory for free speech after a jury said she was not liable for disparaging statements made during her talk show about cattle. A cattlemen group sued her for her opinions stated on television. Their arguement was that with free speech comes responsibility. Paul Engler, who was the first to file suit, felt Winfrey and her guest made false statements about U.S. beef and that her show was consistently sensationalistic.
Winfrey has a talk show that is among the highest rated shows during that time slot. Her opinion is taken as statement of fact by her viewers. The cattlemen felt that because of her opinion and her importance in the media field, they had lost millions of dollars. The jury was unanimous in their acquital of Winfrey (Chandler 1). The Oklahoma City bomb trial had so much media attention that the judge ordered that the jury be shrouded in secrecy.
This meant that the media did not have access to the jurors’ biographical information and they were partially shielded in court behind a partition. The judge claimed the partition was built to keep the jury focused, not to keep the spectators from seeing the jury. The judge also required a gag order on the attorneys. The judge ruled that the court of public opinion was closed until the trial had a verdict. A media lawyer suggested the public is better informed when attorneys discuss what is transpiring publicly, but the judge suggested their aim was to confuse the public (Ross 1). With the media attention on the O.J.
Simpson trial and the Oaklahoma bombing, the death penalty was brought to the forefront. We saw with graphic detail the murder of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, and all the innocent victims of the Oaklahoma City bombing and the distruction created by it that the American public was demanding justice. The major newspapers and television network showed the information on these two events over and over. The death penalty seemed to soar in public opinion polls (United Press International 1). Then Texas had a women on death row.
The media interviewed her and she looked all American, she seemed to be a religious convert and the public had tremendous sympathy for her. The fact that she was sentenced to death by a jury of her peers was pushed to the background. Justice For All, a victims rights group, blamed a media campaign for the drop in support for the death penalty (Dianne Clements 1). She was executed in Texas, but support for the death penalty is down due to the media blitz for Karla Faye Tucker (United Press International 1). The Ellen phenomenon may be part of a media cycle. It was probably the most publicized coming-out party in the history of television. .Magazines and television came out for the media hype of this sitcom. This was a historic television episode. The episode took every myth and stereotype and twisted it to show how ridiculous it was (Newbecker 1).
Although gays and lesbians were celebrating, it showed the anguish and courage it took to come out of the closet. Many felt it gave gay teens a role model (Sylvester 1). The media campaign for this episode drug out so long that many people lost interest (The Detroit News 1). The talk show media jumped on the band wagon with homosexual shows only to find that it didn’t appeal to everyone. Jenny Jones had a show on sexual fantasies. A male guest was brought on but did not know that the person with a crush on him was another male.
The guest claimed that he was so humiliated by the public confession of another man having a crush and sexual fantasies about him, that three days after they both appeared on the show he shot his admirer. The guest was tried and convicted of murder. The talk …