First, I would like to thank the author of the letter to the editor: “Need for freedom of the Press” (link) for bringing that subject up, and let her know that I agree with her on most of her writing, if we try and dive deeper into the sewer that this whole situation has become.
Before getting to the heart of the topic, I would like to quickly address my skepticism on the fast transitioning from a local standpoint to a global generalization. The author’s personal experience with a local newspaper seems hardly transposable to how the mass media works. We can easily understand this by looking at the food industry. One can only struggle with the thought that the food industry is reliable in the same way a local producer is, in terms of quality, traceability and accountability. And aren’t we all big fans of “EAT LOCAL”! That being said, I would also stress that the author was almost certainly a better and freer editor-in-chief than the New York or Washington based ones, who are submitted to tremendous pressure and lobbying. This was probably intensified also by her absence of training, which blessed her with a mind free of the journalistic methods.
My statement will be simple: yes, freedom of the press is important, but ironically this freedom was sold off by that very same press. Our misfortune resides in the trickling down of that abandonment upon the rest of us. Modern politicians and journalists (and I will focus on the latter since it is the topic of the letter) have surrendered their power over to the economy, the market.
We need to understand beforehand that we are being held hostage by the modern definition of freedom. Freedom is presented as the sole absence of restraint, a state where everything is possible, and frantically demands to be made possible. I would argue that what makes human freedom possible is its rooting in truth, because it gives us the ability to understand and act in a reasonable way, even if the full logical conclusions limits our choices. Thus, true freedom cannot unite with indifference and lack of seriousness.
As citizens, we almost exclusively rely on the national and international press to obtain a decent representation of our world and the national/international situation. This represents an enormous power, and an undeniable responsibility. Therefore, a press that is blind, seeking self-comfort, and uncomprehending, becomes in that sense an enemy of the people, robbing them of the ability to think on truthful foundations. However, it is inaccurate to say that this is inherent to mass media. Rather, modern journalism suffers from a plague of superficial thinking, where facts are not interesting because the truth must be appealing. Mass media is often accused of being politically biased while the real issue is its lack of seriousness, its insensitivity, and its desertion. Modern journalism has become an absolute, unaccountable power in the hands of a handful of private interests. Modern journalism has become a race to the next sparkling image, because a dog with a bone in its mouth is unable to bark. Its current inability to truthfully mediate reality has given life to mass confusion.
The mass media is responsible for losing the trust and support of the people, the working class, and they need to wake up. Now.
The proceedings of the last presidential election, whatever we may individually think of its result, should at least have dragged us out of our self-absorption. The saddest thing is that it didn’t. We are burying ourselves in hate and incivilities. The only reaction we got from the privileged and over-privileged parts of the country (and the world) who are dissatisfied with President Trump, is to blame it on the poor and the uneducated, and ridicule them. Business as usual.
The press is afraid of losing its so-called freedom? They have only themselves to blame. They have been uncaring and arrogant toward the poor, and overcaring of their personal benefits and background battles. They have abandoned the vulnerable by not covering unflattering social issues, and focusing hysterically on societal questions, on Lady Gaga, Hollywood, and their petty fears. The real question they should ask themselves is not how they got there but rather how they all could have been shamelessly deaf to the cries of the too many who live in misery, where it’s dark and ugly. Now they worry, again not about the poor, but because they are scared to be sucked down themselves into the darkness and ugliness they helped concealed. They have only themselves to blame.
The entire political class and the media alike should rather take this opportunity to remember that their duty is to serve the people. This is one thing we all need to be reminded of, the one thing we tend to forget in the grip of power, money, and comfort: personal interests are never fulfilling, and true greatness can only be achieved through service to others, especially to the poor.