Media Transparency in the US – Kristia Megan Junglander

With a plethora of channels, print and electronic, social media platforms and growing number of websites, there has also been a wide array of information available to the masses. The audience is more aware today than it was 20 years ago. Not only is it now a recipient of the information, but also a participant in this information creation process.

However, while on one hand information has become easily accessible, on the other, the U.S. Government and other regulatory agencies are cracking down on individuals who strive to make data and information open for scrutiny to the public. With alternate sources such as social media available today, the American confidence in newspapers and television news has dropped down to 24 and 21 percent respectively according to a Gallup poll in June 2015. Media censorship and propaganda have not only exposed the audience to biases but also shaped their opinions regarding important issues. The ongoing elections is one example of how the vested interests of the Republicans and Democrats are being furthered through the divided media with one channel advancing the views of the former and the other of the latter. Just recently, CNN’s Jake Tapper criticized President Barrack Obama for exercising his power to restrict information from the White House while publicly advocating media transparency. According to Tapper, the Obama administration has fostered information censorship and their failure to grant requests to access this information has increased by 55 percent in recent years; a figure that is of great concern.

While governments around the world have become extremely cautious and suspicious of what their journalists, whistle-blowers and even common people are expressing on the media, in the U.S., the Obama administration has already declared Julian Assange and Edward Snowden criminals for leaking highly confidential documents. The limitations and barriers placed on journalists and the threat of being indicted for reporting the truth has not only made them cautious but restricted their ability to convey unbiased and objective information.

The U.S. stands for free speech and democracy and a constant effort to control the media and curb its freedom and access will only weaken the trust people place in such institutions. However, the media itself also has biases and chooses what and what not to report. For example, in 2003 it widely circulated the idea that most people were in favor of the U.S. forces invading Iraq, only considering the views of the pro-war sources and disregarding all those who were against it. With such inaccuracies in the past, one is forced to question whether this institution exists only to further the interests of the U.S. Government or takes its responsibility towards the public seriously? Will the U.S. media be able to withstand the pressure from the establishment? Will it be able to maintain its position as a neutral body amidst drastic polarization? What do you guys think?



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