Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moral Order, The Freedom of Speech and The Challenge to Change

Yesterday's post was about first and foremost, the freedom of speech given to the individual in our American culture. This is an important virtue in our culture because it gives people "a voice" and it is foundational to our free access to "news", as well as an implement of social change.

Just because our press is a free one, does not mean that our press is a moral one. The freedom of our press means that it is not governmentally controlled and because it is not controlled by the government, the government is accountable. The press, in this sense, is a balance of power, because it can reveal certain "news" that would not be beneficial for a politician's reelection. This is a good thing, as it can be an instrument of educating the people to maintain "freedom".

While the press can be useful and is useful, for the most part, for maintaining accountability in government, the press is fed by the "free market" mentality. "Sin" sells and what sells brings prosperity. And profit and prosperity is what ends up defining what stories are going to be pursued. "The market" drives journalists, publishers, reporters, and the news media, in general to be the first to "get the story". But, our society is not so much dedicated to informing themselves, as in entertaining themselves. This has cheapened the media and its purpose of keeping government accountable and the people informed.

Not only is the press benefitting on the "sins" of its leaders and poplace, but the media feeds the public with their own bias. Editorials do not belong in the headlines, but this, in my opinion, is what it has become. Everyone that cares enough to inform themselves, understands that there are liberal and conservative news coverage. And it becomes the public's responsibilty to flip the channels and/or buy two newpapers, if they want both sides to the story. Is there not a way to report a story without bias? I thought this was traditionally understood to be what the news media was about, giving unbiased news to inform the public. Now, I fear that the news media has another agenda, it own political agenda. Instead of educating the poplace, the media politicizes the news and campaigns for their candidate. We become a divided people that are ill-informed about the real issues, because we are focused on the politcalization of the media and the news, itself.

This is the downfall of a "free people", a disregard and a lack of appreciation of freedom. Freedom is not won without a costs and the costs are personal, as well as societal. The costs are our moral responsiblity. Our moral order demands that our freedom of speech be directed in ways that are edifying to our poplace and not just entertaining. The challenge to change might be a sacrificial one, as far as prosperity, but it just might make a difference to our society. Besides, writers are known to be creative and they can use their creativity to write note-worthy stories in an entertaining way to woo us off of pablum, so that we can be an informed and educated people. Without this change, our lost opportunity will be the furtherance of our moral demise. And our moral demise will inevitably limit our freedom in the future. There is nothing like a lack of informatin to enslave. But, our enslavement will be one chosen by default, unless the press changes and takes their responsibility seriously.

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