1. Several of our commentators have suggested that the media engage in "self-censorship". What does this mean and how is it accomplished?
Self-censorship is one of the least discussed, and most routine, media constraints in the United States. The mass media are able to numb us, in a sense, dispensing anesthesia along with selected information. Stories that are damaging to the financial interests of news organizations, along with stories that go against the values of capitalism, democracy, and warfare are very intentionally avoided. No one needs to instruct the editor of a magazine dependent on cigarette-ad revenue not to launch a crusade against the tobacco industry; they already know not to do so. The news is filled with footage and descriptions of cruise missiles, F-117 Stealth bombers, F-16CJ jets and other ultramodern aircraft. Their awesome technical prowess is publicized in detail. But don’t expect much coverage or description of exactly what happens to people when the bombs detonate, whom we are aiming to kill with the bombs, or of what the real reasons are behind the bombing.
Meanwhile, media conflicts of interest are unacknowledged. For example, if Brokaw and his NBC News colleagues marvel at the exploits of F/A-18 Hornet jets, they don’t mention that NBC’s parent company, General Electric, produces the engine that goes into each one.
One of the most powerful things that the media can do is persuade the population to view events, proposals, or agendas in a liberal or conservative manner. Media organizations do not cover assignments factually, fairly, or fully, resulting in a bias in their coverage when it comes to political subjects and more.
The power of mass media to persuade the population cannot be understated. If the media gives greater coverage, or sensationalizes only one theory, the population sways in the direction of the information supplied. The same is true for downplaying, or covert negativity in …