What Price Freedom of the Press

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  1. Nathanville profile image92
    Nathanvilleposted 6 years ago

    Here in the UK as in America and the rest of the free world in general, the Press is unregulated, and as such most frequently twist the facts, with some even go as far as fabricating news stories.  Without mentioning any names there’s one British newspaper in particular who’s been sued for libel seven times over the last 15 years; and one of the reporters, who also works for a popular USA TV News channel has been successfully sued personally for libel in connection with fictional reporting.

    We all know that ‘political spin’ is an inherent part of news media reporting, and consequently news reporting does influence public opinion.  However, unregulated and heavily biased reporting can at times have as a dire consequence on the social, political and economic status of a nation, by swaying public opinion in an inappropriate direction, as government controlled news media in communist countries.

    So is there a happy medium between control and freedom of the Press?  Probably not, but with political will, and sufficient public opinion in favour of some form of media regulation there may perhaps be options for some balanced control.

    In this respect I sight the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) in the UK, and Ofcom (Office of Communications), the Independent government regulatory and competition authority in the UK for regulating broadcasts on British TV and Radio.

    The ASA is a self-regulatory organisation funded by the advertising industry itself.  Nevertheless it takes pride in maintaining high standards of advertising in newspapers and on TV; and enforces strict rules on itself to ensure all advertising in the UK is truthful, honest and not misleading.

    Ofcom, although a government department, is independent of the government, and answerable only to Parliament.  Part of Ofcom’s role is to ensure news broadcasts on British TV and Radio are unbiased and well balanced.  So even the likes of Sky News (which is a part of the USA’s FOX News Group) have to toe the line and provide unbiased reporting on British TV; or otherwise risk prosecution, and even losing their license to broadcast.

    Interestingly, Al Jazeera News (owned by the ruling Arab royal family of Qatar) prides itself on unbiased and balanced news reporting, and as such I tend to watch that news channel as much as I watch Sky News and the BBC News on British TV.  If only more of our news media would follow Al Jazeera’s example, then the question of the ‘Freedom of the Press’ wouldn’t be an issue!

    1. Live to Learn profile image60
      Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Government regulation of media is a step toward government control of information and next you'd have government disinformation as the news. I read an article the other day by a British journalist bemoaning news they were not allowed to print because of government regulations (probably your ASA)., News which, if he was sharing all of the facts, should have been reported.

      A google search of the three networks you listed as reliable and unbiased does not show that your claim is universally believed. Apparently two are considered pro liberal and one antisemitic. Since antisemitism appears to be a fairly common liberal weakness then I assume you might be liberal.

      So no. I don't think we can trust a government to ensure true, fair and unbiased reporting. What we can expect from such a move is favoritism, cronyism and attempts to sway public opinion toward leanings in line with those in control.

      1. Credence2 profile image77
        Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Anti-semitism is a scourge of the Right. Where do you get the idea that it promoted by liberals?

        1. Kathryn L Hill profile image77
          Kathryn L Hillposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          Benjamin Netanyahu is one of our only allies in Europe / Middle East.

          "Obama turns down a request to meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli leader visits the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly. The White House cites a tight schedule for the president."
          http://www.businessinsider.com/why-obam … ong-2015-3

          "Calling President Barack Obama “the worst thing that has ever happened to Israel” for negotiating the recent Iran-nuclear deal, Trump pledged loyalty to Israel.
          “I will be very good to Israel,” he said. “People know that. I have so many friends from Israel. I have won so many awards from Israel. I was even the grand marshal for the Israeli Day Parade a few years ago. So I will back Israel.”
          http://time.com/4566802/president-donal … netanyahu/

          1. Credence2 profile image77
            Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

            That is ridiculous, what is the KKK and the hard right always squawking about? The Jews and their influence.

            You don't think that I was born yesterday, do you? Netenyahu is a hardliner that made a diplomatic end run around the President and that was not acceptable.

            Jews have been known to vote democrat/liberal at 70%, that does not sound like anti-semitism to me.

            Even as President Elect, just because Trump says it does not make it so. I don't care what he says.

            Supporting Israel does not mean that it is entitled to that support unconditionally. There are issues regarding Palestinian rights.  Does insisting that the Isreali government address those matters imply anti-semitism?

            Having issues with the Isreali government and Netenyahu does not mean one is anti-Semitic. That, in itself, is hair brained reasoning.

            But again

            Just more rightwinger bait and switch.....

            1. Kathryn L Hill profile image77
              Kathryn L Hillposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              The KKK was started by Dems, let me remind you. 
              No matter what Israel must remain a friend of the US.
              We must see the big picture.

              1. Live to Learn profile image60
                Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Not surprising since they are still anti semitic.

              2. Credence2 profile image77
                Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

                For heavens sake, 150 years ago. What does that have to do with today? Which party/ideology is getting the support of the cross burners today? I don't need to offer that to you in Braille, do I?

                Being a friend is more than being just a lackey to every thing that Isreal may do that is contrary to our foreign policy objectives in the region.

        2. Live to Learn profile image60
          Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          Have you noticed the threads, on this site, started by self proclaimed liberals with conspiracy theories about Jews? You haven't read any of the anti semitic posts by proclaimed liberals about
          Jews, on this site?

          Sorry, if the shoe fits you've got to wear it.

          Either way,.can you point to any right winger denouncing Jews? I can't.

          1. Credence2 profile image77
            Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

            How about a link?

            1. Live to Learn profile image60
              Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              OK. I  can provide quite a few showing that the DNC itself wanted to use Bernie's Jewish heritage as a way to turn voters against him. But, you know they did so you can look for the links yourself.

              As to the threads on this forum I am not going to take the time to provide a link but there was one touting a Jewish conspiracy started by sycophantastic and I have noticed quite a few anti semitic comments by Castlepoloma. Both liberals.

              1. Credence2 profile image77
                Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Is that all you got? It is obvious that Hillary would tap into some of that to get ahead in her campaign. Just like she used the race card when competing with Obama. But the far picture, from Nazism, to KKK, there is nothing liberal about any of these movements and they define the very meaning of anti-Semitic. Who have these people hitched their star to, this time around for election? This, in addition to all of the other point I made that would conflict with your viewpoint should make my case quite clear.

                1. Live to Learn profile image60
                  Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  I'm afraid if you are going to use a man's heritage against him with your constituency it doesn't really matter if you have nothing against his heritage; your constituency apparently does.So, that would mean that democrats lean anti semitic.

                  But, I will say that if you think of something such as that it means you were able to think it in the first place. I wouldn't have thought, in this day and age, that a person having a Jewish heritage would be considered anything different at all.

      2. colorfulone profile image77
        colorfuloneposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        100% agree!

      3. Nathanville profile image92
        Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks ‘Live to Learn’ for your contributed thoughts on ‘Freedom of the Press’.

        I agree, we can’t trust a government to ensure true, fair and unbiased reporting.  That’s why Ofcom, although set up and financed by the British government to regulate British TV and Radio, is an ‘Independent’ body which is not answerable to the government; it’s only answerable to parliament.

        It’s also why the BBC, also set up and financed by the British government, is an Independent Organisation that’s not answerable to the government.

        FYI, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) has nothing to do with the government, it’s a self-regularity authority set up by and financed by the British press and Media (including the newspapers).  It’s only role is to guarantee that all ‘Adverts’ published or broadcasted meet very high standards of honesty, don’t make false claims and don’t mislead the public.

        With regards to the British journalist you mentioned, as (unlike TV and Radio) the British newspapers aren’t regulated, I suspect he was prohibited from publishing his story because rather than being straight forward reporting of the news (backed by evidence), it was intended to twist the facts in some way that would have infringed on some other British law in general e.g. ‘hate crime’, ‘human rights’ or some other ‘anti-discrimination’ law etc.  If my speculation on this is wrong then I apologies.

        As regard guessing my politics, ‘Liberal’ was a good guess, but they (who only got 7.9% share of the vote in the last general election) are far to right-wing for my tastes; I’m one of the 30.5% of the British population who supported the main ‘Socialist’ party; with the ‘Conservatives’ (equivalent to your Republicans) winning 36.9% of the votes.

      4. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
        Kathleen Cochranposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        "Since antisemitism appears to be a fairly common liberal weakness"  According to whom?

    2. profile image0
      jonnycomelatelyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Interesting points you have raised, worth giving serious thought to.

      Having been born in England I can understand your sentiments.  There has long been an inherent desire in Britain for honesty and fairness.  This is not always forthcoming of course but it's still held up as the ideal.   The Daily Mail, when published as a broadsheet newspaper, was always regarded rightly or wrongly as a source of honest and reliable reporting. That was expected of it.  Today I see it as anything but unbiased and reliable.

      So much in Britain today seems to have dropped below the high standards of integrity we once presumed to apply in public life.  Whether this is true or not I can't be sure.  It's my perception and I am certainly not trying to say things are any better here in Australia or any other country.   The world is crying out for a better deal; maybe it's wishful thinking on my part.

      Yet I do feel there is an urgent need for us to drop some of the political correctness, call out individuals and companies by name publically,  tell them and show them by personal example that we demand and expect openness and high principles, with clear and unambiguous consequences if they fail us.

      This application must be universal across national borders, giving support to those enforcing high principles (judges, juries, magistrates, directors, etc.), and protecting them from influence by bullying vested interests.

      Would you agree that this must start with us at the "grass roots?"  Or must it start from the top?

      1. Nathanville profile image92
        Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks for your feedback.  Funny you should mention the Daily Mail, that’s the newspaper I referred to but didn’t mention by name for being prosecuted a number of times in recent years for fabricating news.

        I think you are right, I too get the sense that so much in Britain today has dropped below the high standards of integrity that we once presumed to apply in public life; and I fear these standards will drop further if and when we leave the EU because so many of those high standards are embedded deeply into the roots of the foundation ‘Articles’ of the EU (the nearest the EU has to a Constitution).

        I fully agree, it is best for such changes to start at the ‘grass roots’ for several reasons.  If the’ will’ of the people is there then it does give impetus and direction for governments to follow; whereas when the initiative comes from the top it tends not to be representative of what people want.

    3. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      This issue relates slightly differently to traditional vs non-traditional media. Non traditional media (websites, blogs, social media etc.) are the product of the democratization of media, content and information brought about through the development and proliferation of the web. Bias, and falsehood is one of the inherent drawbacks of such democratization, and it's difficult to control one without constraining the other.

      For traditional, or 'mainstream', media organizations, I think there's a different issue. Aside from blatant falsehoods, which can be mitigated through organizations like those you mention, the preoccupation some mainstream media have with appearing 'balanced' is also, I think, part of the problem. This has caused information that is objectively and factually incorrect to be presented as just another 'side' of a story. You saw this false equivalence in both the Brexit and Trump campaigns, where blatant lies were treated with the same weight as fact-based truth. The effect is to suggest both sides are equally credible, even when they aren't.

      This has gotten so bad that there are now specialist "fact-checker" websites. Wasn't fact-checking once just called good journalism? Why aren't journalists in mainstream media organizations doing the fact-checking as part of their story? Because dramatic (but factually incorrect) stories/ headlines brings in revenue, and mainstream media is a business. Like any other business they are mostly concerned with their bottom line, truth be damned.

      1. Nathanville profile image92
        Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks for your input; you’ve certainly ‘hit the nail on the head’, and explained it so eloquently; and I fully agree with all your points. 

        I didn’t mention non-traditional media in my opening comments, but yes it is as big a problem as traditional media in that the web is littered with biased, misleading and false information.  Even in Wikipedia, which does have high standards for accurate factual reporting, I have on rare occasions found some inaccuracies due to the author not being aware of historical information (dating back to the 1970s) that’s difficult to find on the web because it’s buried deep and obscured by more recent and less accurate interpretations of historic events that took in the days before the web existed.

        Yes, fact-checking should be the corner stone of ‘good journalism’, and I wish it was; unfortunately, as you stated, the news media  is more interested in sensational storytelling to earn revenue, rather than being honest in its reporting.  This does seem to be an age old problem; my great-great grandfather compiled a scrapbook of over 500 American and British newspaper articles from the Victorian era (which I inherited).  And on researching some of those newspaper articles in his scrapbook I found a small number of them to be classified as ‘fillers’ e.g. fictional (and sensational) news written specifically to fill the page.

    4. profile image0
      promisemposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Since someone else restarted this thread, I will dive into it.

      The press IS highly regulated. As you point out, a newspaper in UK was sued multiple times. The same happens here all of the time because of laws that prevent media abuse. Some press people are even thrown in jail (i.e., Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Ian Edmondson).

      A search on Google of "newspaper libel suits" produces 760,000 results including many examples of newspapers being sued.

      All newspapers aren't bad just because a few so-called newspapers (usually owned by Rubert Murdoch) act badly.

      That's like saying all British people are bad just because Derrick Bird shot 23 people.

      1. Nathanville profile image92
        Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        My point was that (unlike news media on TV in Britain) the newspapers are not regulated; because of the principle of the ‘Freedom of the Press’. 

        Although, as you point out, newspapers can be (and sometimes are) sued when they overstep the mark e.g. abuse their freedom; provided the person wronged can afford the legal costs.

        But yes, I take your point, just because some newspapers thrive on printing porky pies to sensationalise the news (or for a political agenda) doesn’t mean all newspaper reporting is deliberately misleading. 

        The problem is that too many people believe what they read in the newspapers; and the difficulty (for those who want honest reporting) is being able to know what papers they can trust.

        1. profile image0
          promisemposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          I'm glad we see each other at least part way. Some newspapers are better at following strict standards than others. Unfortunately, the good ones often get lumped together with the bad ones.

          Rational and objective people like you can tell the difference. Other people have trouble with it. I wish more could tell the difference.

          1. Nathanville profile image92
            Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            Thanks promisem; spot on; I fully agree.

    5. Ken Burgess profile image81
      Ken Burgessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I know we have government oversights, commissions, that review and protect the airwaves and print media from certain things.

      Essentially you are correct they are 'unregulated'... but they are also not necessarily free or factual sources of information.  They are carefully controlled outlets of propaganda and social programming for whatever corporation, conglomeration, or billionaire that owns them.

      The 1% controls the American media the same way they control the majority of Congressmen in D.C.

      1. Nathanville profile image92
        Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        I Totally Agree Ken.

  2. colorfulone profile image77
    colorfuloneposted 6 years ago


    Absolutely True

    1. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
      Kathleen Cochranposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      And what party pushed through Civil Rights legislation?  If it had been left up to Republicans, it would never have happened.  Check the history books.

      1. Nathanville profile image92
        Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Very true, right wing governments like the Republicans (and Conservatives in Britain) are not renowned for advocating Civil Rights Legislation.

        1. profile image0
          jonnycomelatelyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          ...and yet the Daily Mail years ago, then a broadsheet publication, strongly conservative, was looked to for honest, fair and dependable reporting.
          When the general public demands better, maybe we will get it.

          1. Nathanville profile image92
            Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            I think the Daily Mail was probably considered to be a reputable newspaper years ago; but since 2000 it certainly hasn’t been.

            The Daily Mail, a British newspaper first published in 1896 was aimed at the middle class (a Conservatives newspaper), and had the 2nd highest readership; I don’t know how it stands now.  The most widely newspaper in Britain being ‘The Sun’ (commonly classified as gutter press) was aimed at the working class (Labour voters) spouting Conservative propaganda.  The ‘Mirror’ being the ‘Sun’s’ counterpart (also classified as gutter press and also aimed at the working class) in contrast, traditionally promote the Labour Party.

            However, the Daily Mail has been successfully sued seven times since 2001.  Also, in recent years they have been criticised for racism and homophobia, and criticised by doctors and scientists for using minor studies to generate scare stories.

            And just two days ago, Wikipedia made the decision to prohibit the Daily Mail from being used as a reliable source for its articles, deeming its reporting to be generally unreliable; because of its failure to ‘fact check’ prior to publication.

  3. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
    Kathleen Cochranposted 6 years ago

    A regulated press is the first step in a dictatorship.  We regulate the press in the US by readership and ad buys.  Publications have been sued successfully for libel.  Newspapers and TV routinely run corrections and apologies.  Too many cries for regulation stem from people who just don't like what the news of the day is.

    1. Nathanville profile image92
      Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks Kathleen for your comments.  I agree, there are dangers in regulating the press; it's a fine line between regulating to discourage 'fake news', while at the same time ensuring the press have the freedom to tell the truth.

      In this respect you might be interested to know that on or about the 30th January this year the British Government launched an ‘Inquiry’ into ‘Fake News’.  The Inquiry is not aimed at newspapers, but aimed at the problems of widespread fake news on the Internet and through Social Media; although as an increasing number of newspapers now publish online (some now exclusively, like the Daily Mail) I guess any resulting legislation could have an impact on them.

      The deadline for written submissions to the British Government is 3rd March 2017, after which if the Inquiry makes any recommendations, it will be up to the British Government as to whether they take it forward to formulate a Bill, which if passed by Parliament would become Law. 

      At the launch of the Inquiry the British Government asked Search Engines like Google, and Social Media sites like Facebook to look into the prospect of writing software that could identify and filter out ‘Fake News’.

      I’m sure this development will raise alarms e.g. while the idea of screening out fake news might be very admirable, how can one ensure at the same time the safeguard of the principle of ‘the freedom of the press’?

  4. profile image0
    ahorsebackposted 6 years ago

    I wonder why no one seems to understand the fine line between the  values of what amounts to  a   free speech media  and the plague of fake news that has evolved from the same ?    How far into the future can legal censorship  be when such a devaluation of truth is involved ?

    I have watched , in sixty odd years ,  the evolution of a very "controlled" media from the fifties , sixties and even the  early seventies ,  To what has become an extremely fake news driven modern media .
    This is the problem I have with todays mainstream media -- which is actually worse ?

    I believe todays news media is worse .

    1. Nathanville profile image92
      Nathanvilleposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your feedback ahorseback, I think you have a very valid point.


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