Juan Garcia-Bango167 ISS The media is the number one provider of information toall cultures and societies all around the globe, and gives the world a generalidea of what is going on in different countries or places at any given time.The media providers are responsible for supplying the people with these news,and in a free media environment, this news should not be manipulated or tamperedby the state or the government. To have free media means that the distributorsof the latter can voice their opinions without fear of being persecuted, and thatall news will be broadcasted, not shut down by the governing body. Free mediais closely connected to the human right of freedom of information, an extensionof the liberty of expression, and recognized by international law.
Freedom ofinformation covers a broad spectrum, including any kind of speech expression, whetherit is written, spoken, or even portrayed artistically. There will always befree media in a true democratic society, for it will root for freedom andequality. On the contrary, systems controlled by totalitarianism will make abig effort to control all media, censoring the parts that go against theirefforts, and flooding all media sources available to the public with propaganda. The Chinese government is one of the clearer examplesof a body in power censoring the publics access to information by imposing astrict media control. They control and monitor all media outlets, and even jailjournalists and activists whose actions or content go against the interests ofthe government. For instance, activist Liu Xiaobo, founder of the Charter08 campaignfor constitutional reform was sentenced to eleven years in prison on a chargeof subversion after only a two hour trial.
In an effort to minimize theinternational attention, Liu was convicted on Christmas day. He would later goon to win the Nobel peace prize. (Guardian) While this particular case caughtthe international eye, it is not an exception and more of a norm; China holdsmore than twenty dissidents and countless political prisoners. (RTHK) Anotherexample of censorship clashing with human rights is that one of C.
Jianping, aforty six year old Chinese woman who was convicted without trial to a wholeyear in a labor camp, simply for a labeled anti-Japanese twitter post. Social media platforms are the new newspaper, magazine,documentary; all in one. While the platforms themselves have guidelines and ascheme on which they operate, not tolerating certain content or behaviors, theyallow for the public to have a voice and express their opinion on any matter orsubject within the platform.
This translates into loads of different sources,with equal an contrasting views, making it so the user can chose were he or shegets their information, without fear of backlash by any means. Mostimportantly, social media has been used to shine a light on issues that wouldotherwise not be spoken about in traditional news sources. Social media allowsthe “average Joe” to voice their views, opened to an audience of millions ofusers across the globe. Social media has changed the way societies and individualsexpress themselves. Nothing is perfect though, while these platforms are aloosely controlled center of information, this also means that users or groupswith more extremist views make use of them for their own personal goals andobjectives. Even though this is bad, at the core it is simply allowing, in thiscase inadequately, for an opinion, thought or mentality to be heard. Societies operating under the umbrella of free media,while having more sources of information, face “information risks”, with: peoplein social media for example, acting under no ethical or moral constraints.Misinformed individuals are also able to weigh in in topics far from theirexpertise.
People also become more partisan due to the amount of media accessibleto them. Most importantly, journalism can turn into sensationalism only withthe goal of capturing an audience passionate or determined regarding anysubject. This is known as Yellow Journalism, a type of journalism in which storiesare exploited, distorted, or exaggerated to attract more readers (Freedictionary). This term was coined in the 1890’s to refer to the type ofjournalism Joseph Pulitzer from the New York Word used. Headlines would as oftenas possible include words that caught the publics attention, such as “war”, or “slaughter”(WordPress).
This makes the reader curiousand interested on the contents of the paper, and therefore keener to purchaseit. Honesty is well rewarded thanks to free media; morenews sources means it is plausible and easy to fact check stories, comparingthem to other media outlets and narrowing it down to the reliable ones. The words”fake news” have been used a lot this past years, brought to light by U.Spresident Donald Trump, who accused numerous media giants such as CNN oftelling fake stories about his presidential campaign and other things relatedto him.
It is also important to make a distinction between so called fake newsand satire, the use of irony and exaggeration to ridicule someone. Dave Weasel,a comedian who ran a page of satirical news, was shut down by Facebook, whybeing his page was labeled as fake news. (Daily Mail)