So, USA, it looks like you’re back. For a little while at least, until we come up against the new deadline and we all have to start worrying again.
While I can’t say we weren’t doing just fine without you, I guess it’s nice to be back to what passes for “business as usual” these days. Maybe someday, we’ll sort through what actually was going on.
And there’s a big problem with that, because no one really had an understanding, and that’s something we should be talking about. Lucky for us, somebody did.
On October 10, 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a special report on press freedom in the United States. This is the same group that compiles reports to determine the most dangerous places around the world for journalists to work. This was the first time they’ve ever written one about the Land of the Free, and our debut wasn’t pretty.
The report warns that the current administration has “ushered in a paralyzing climate of fear for both reporters and their government sources.” Ouch.
That accusation comes in response to the six government employees—and two government contractors—facing felony prosecution, the secret subpoena and seizure of Associated Press phone logs and emails, and the case when journalist James Risen of the New York Times was forced to testify against an informer or face a prison sentence.
It’s an exceptionally ugly time for journalists in America, and that’s a big problem for the American people—especially in these times when most people don’t trust the media.
Let’s get one thing clear; Graham Greene got it right when he said, “Media is just a word that has come to mean bad journalism.” Those “news” outlets, the major players in what has come to be known as the “mainstream media,” are corporations trying to turn a buck. They have agendas, and those agendas are directly tied to political dogmas.
The anchors on these networks aren’t reporters so much as they are actors pretending to be reporters, and it’s not only given the rest of the working journalists a bad name, but a huge obstacle to overcome.
Journalism is a fundamental aspect of any democracy. I know that School House Rock only sang about the three branches of government, but journalists play a major part as watchdogs of their goings-on.
A democracy is a government by the people, and it requires an informed public to function. In order for the people to understand what’s going on, they require trained journalists to provide that information. And in a news setting, that information needs to be presented without bias or agenda.
The founding fathers understood all of that, and so they made sure the very first amendment protected the freedom of press, a freedom that We The People are being denied.
The fact that the lobbyists in mainstream media are drowning out real journalists, and their job to “seek truth and report it” is being curated by those in power is a grave concern for this nation.
It’s not a compliment to have this report filed. For an administration that heralded transparency in their campaign, the irony is damning. This is a nation of fear, where “government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press.” That’s a losing situation for the citizens under that oppressing rule.
If the people aren’t informed, the democracy ceases to function. A democratic government requires transparency. If the information isn’t being provided to the people, then how can we keep pretending that we function as a democracy? So, USA?
Alex Sousa is studying journalism in UVU’s communication department. He’s serving as the managing editor at the UVU Review as well as the editor of the music blog on uvureview.com. He’s had experience working as a freelance writer and also as a copy writer at a marketing agency. Currently he’s working as the Editor-in-chief of the Utah Tech Magazine, an interactive, digital publication. He’s a Utah native who’s traveled around the world; having lived in Mexico, backpacked through Europe, studied in the Middle East and—for a time—been stranded in the Ukraine. He can be found on Facebook and he’s available on Twitter @TwoFistedSousa or by email at [email protected].