From the body of your question it is apparent that you are pretty
convinced that the answer to your question "IS THE INTEREST OF THE
MEDIA INHERENTLY IN CONFLICT WITH THE 'PUBLIC-GOOD'? " is a resounding
YES. However, I will risk a low rating for a 2$ question and contend
that the answer is NO (almost always). Everything stated below is of
course only In My Very Humble Opinion, I will make no attempt to find
so-called "experts" to substantiate my claims, since this is an issue
any person with common sense is qualified to discuss.
True, media reporting has a potential to do damage, although some of
the examples you state fail to impress me. The media have a right to
ask questions whose answers they know they are not likely to get. It
may be stupid, but I don't think it is in conflict with the public
good. On the contrary, I am quite convinced the Powers That Be use
this from time to time to spread a healthy dose of disinformation. I
don't have any concrete examples, but they would be of the nature of:
"Where would you stake out the sniper next? Capitol Hill..." Larger
scale examples are when the administration "leaks out" information
about when the U.S. is likely to attack Iraq, etc. You can be sure
this is not done out of stupidity, and the media are only doing a
public service by publishing this (often false) information.
On the other hand, the existence of the media does a LOT of public
good without us even noticing it. Ask yourself this: Would you prefer
to live in a country with no media at all? Or would you prefer to live
in an authoritarian regime where all the media are government
controlled, and you only get to hear information which has no
potential of interfering with the public good. I don't think so
(unless you already live under such a regime - but in that case you
must be a dissident since you are using the internet and watching
"free" American T.V.) By being the stupid, stubborn, self-serving,
obnoxious people that they are, the media are making sure that not the
slightest wrongdoing will take place and go unnoticed by the public.
So they do it to make money/sell newspapers/increase ratings/fill
air-time? So what. So they go over the line sometimes? True, but I
don't see what we can do about it. It's been tried many times before
to restrict freedom of speech in the name of so-called "public
interest", and every time the results have been many many times worse.
So, that was my 2 cents' (or as the case may be, 1.50$'s) worth, hope
you enjoyed disagreeing with me...
Request for Answer Clarification by
24 Oct 2002 04:23 PDT
Dear Mr. Dannidin,
I am glad that you venture to risk your repitation. I am sure you
understood my alusion to the pail of milk that is kicked over
promptly. That indicates that I understand the value of the "free
press" You may recall that although we enjoy the benefit of free
speach, it is curtailed if we try to cry "fire" in a crowded theather.
I am sure you have also heard of checks and balances that was
instituted to keep the government in check. The fact that we keep the
president from having unbridled freedom to do anything he wants, does
not mean that he is not valued. If we let any one of the "valued"
parts of the whole run wild, then we might not end up with a "police
state" nor a dictatorship, but a forth estate that is a fifth column.
Even if the the fraimers neglected to include the media in the cheks
and balances, we the people should not through up our hands and and
say we must accept the good with the bad because it could be worse.
Remember, tyrany sometimes sneaks up on us from the most unlikely
sectors of our society. Even the church have been known to get out of
In a nut-shell, since no member of our invaluable facets of our system
of government is above the law, the media should not be also. We cant
punish them for being stupid, but when they reveal classified material
they should be punished in the same way that we would punish the
President. Polititions are affraid to touch them for fear of being
targetit by the press. This is detrimental to our country.
Clarification of Answer by
24 Oct 2002 05:24 PDT
I agree wholeheartedly. The media should be kept in check, within the
constraints of the law. Revealing classified information is illegal
and should be dealt with by the proper authorities. And your words of
caution regarding the dangers that lurk from any powerful sector,
including the media, in a free society, are well in order. Yet I
maintain that, on the whole, we are much better off with a media that
has an interest in poking it's nose anywhere, and that even believes
it is it's duty to do so. I would choose anyday a country whose
leaders are afraid of its media over one whose media are afraid of its
leaders, since the power in the latter is much less balanced.