The Role of the Media
An especially obvious, and perhaps the most significant, change in American politics has been the development of very rapid mass communication. James Madison in Number 10 of The Federalist Papers argued that the size (difficulty of communication) in the new federal union would make hasty and ill-conceived nation-wide political movements unlikely. That safety factor has now been erased. The mass media and those “celebrities” whom they feature, stand, now in a role similar to that of demagogues in ancient Athens.
While advocating the broadest and most strict First Amendment limits upon government censorship, media editors feel free to emphasize or neglect information according to their own tastes and political preferences. Given the cohesive tendency among American intellectuals, a result is that most of the public gets an information diet selected to fit a quite unrepresentative set of attitudes. Even basic facts of the widest significance often escape general notice.
To the now, quite centralized power of selecting information for mass distribution, a power not contemplated by the founding Fathers, the First Amendment is largely irrelevant. Fortunately, there are some trends toward a greater diversity of media outlets. But, given the predominant influence of one large verbal elite, America’s future as a cohesive and democratic society is in doubt.
LINKS TO ARTICLES
1) Panic in America
2) Selecting Issues
3) A Way Out?
4) The Informed Society
5) America, 1984
6) Who’s Tyranny?
7) Pentagon Papers: Bad Timing
8) America Desperately Needs Leadership
9) Economic Woes: Real and Imaginary
10) Westmoreland, CBS Do Battle
11) Disinformation Threatens Us
12) Bias Determines News Play
13) Commentary-The Suncoast News
14) Letters to the National Media