Becoming What We Fear

When someone utters the words “state-run media,” a negative picture appears. Instantly, our minds will gravitate to media censorship in China. In fact, it’s hard to find any article (in the US press) about the Chinese press that doesn’t decry the system for being state-run. The press in the United States is always looking for reasons to proclaim the merits of a “free and independent press” by comparing us to places like China, where the government wields strict control over what its citizenry sees.

These fears have manifested themselves at home as well, with pushes to defund NPR on claims that the government shouldn’t have influence over the news we receive, and that NPR is too close to a state-run model.

What we don’t realize is that we already have state-run media, just through the form of corporate ownership. If the media is only willing to report what people in power are saying, then our news is still controlled by the state. When’s the last time you’ve seen anything covered in the media that democrats and republicans agree upon (surveillance, capitalism as a system and the global economy’s negative impacts just to name a few?)

A perfect example of this is how the mainstream has covered the affairs surrounding Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

Jeff Cohen elaborates on the Huffington Post:

The Edward Snowden leaks have revealed a U.S. corporate media system at war with independent journalism. Many of the same outlets — especially TV news — that missed the Wall Street meltdown and cheer-led the Iraq invasion have come to resemble state-controlled media outlets in their near-total identification with the government as it pursues the now 30-year-old whistleblower.

While an independent journalism system would be dissecting the impacts of NSA surveillance on privacy rights, and separating fact from fiction, U.S. news networks have obsessed on questions like: How much damage has Snowden caused?How can he be brought to justice?

If our press is only willing to report what those in power say are OK, then our press is no better than the system we decry overseas. So long as corporate and political interest hold more weight than public interest, how can we hope to have a press that holds people in power accountable? It’s certainly a question worth asking.



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