Caitlin Bassett writes, the journalism professor argued before a government regulatory committee that “an open market without regulation will always favor bad actors over good”:
Bell hopes that government management of news will help create thriving local news environments. She cited studies showing that local news markets in the U.S. have drastically declined over the past fifteen years, while national news outlets have flourished.
It is worth noting that Bell speaks as a citizen of Great Britain, where journalism is overseen by a government-approved regulator called Ofcom (short for the Office of Communications). Ofcom is currently investigating Good Morning Britain after 41,000 complaints poured in over Piers Morgan’s comments about Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah.
Despite being expressly protected in the First Amendment, free speech and the freedom of the press have been questioned in recent years as America has found itself deeply divided over such issues as COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election — and more specifically, how those issues are being reported.
“[J]ournalists have bizarrely transformed from their traditional role as leading free expression defenders into the most vocal censorship advocates, using their platforms to demand that tech monopolies ban and silence others,” writes award-winning journalist and former attorney Glenn Greenwald.Caitlin Bassett, “Columbia professor wants government to regulate news media” at Mind Matters News
It’s worrisome but not bizarre. There’s a simple explanation, offered by yer news hack here:
The single biggest factor in all this is that traditional media are no longer a necessary institution.
In the 1970s, one needed a newspaper to find out the weather, the scores, and who had a bicycle for sale. Hit pieces sometimes appeared, of course. But generally speaking, the investigative journalist was, well, investigating, not plotting to take someone down just for the sake of it. There were plenty of bad landlords, corrupt officeholders, shoddy builders, etc., to focus on. It was difficult and sometimes dangerous work. But we have specialty web sites and consumer groups for all that today. It’s all online.
Today, the newspapers (along with generic TV and radio) are echo chambers for opinion — for cultural reasons, that usually means progressive opinion. When an institution is no longer needed, its mission usually changes. The people attracted to it change too.
One suspects that Greenwald is right: The sort of people who would launch baseless attacks and refuse to apologize, destroy colleagues’ careers over misunderstood conversations, and ridicule or misrepresent old or sick men probably could not do an exhausting eight-month, on-the-ground investigation into corruption at the Municipal Housing Board. So, increasingly, they do what they can: Misrepresentation and speech policing.
One outcome of the increasing prevalence in media of the type of people Greenwald describes is a very great decline in the perceived value of freedom of speech and of the media.
News management bureaucrats are not at all likely to value freedom of information and the rest of us need to secure independent sources of news for our own good.