"A free press stands as one of the great interpreters between the government and the people. To allow it to be fettered is to be fettered ourselves."
Justice George Sutherland Grosjean v. American Press Co. (1935)"

French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard once suggested that viewers should be paid for watching television, based on the colossal economic service rendered to the production companies and the advertisers.

According to Ellen Hume, head of The Democracy Project on PBS, "America's experiment in 'objective' journalism ... is over. Muckrakers have given way to buckrakers seeking their own fame and fortune48."

When being accurate is not practical

Journalists face a dilemma: adhere to corporate guidelines or find another job

n the job market, journalists must compete to stay on top, so the adage "shape up or ship out" comes into play - few other options are available. An ideologically "objective" journalist must struggle to uphold the ideals and ethics instilled in him or her while fighting off prospective journalists who need the same job. All too often, conforming to the standards of the dominating capitalist dynasty is the only alternative to resigning. Within recent years, two newspaper editors, Eugene Roberts of the Philadelphia Inquirer and William Kovach of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, have chosen to resign rather than to bow to the pressures of corporate demands to limit the news to increase profits (Bagdikian, 4th ed., xiii-xiv).

Before reporting any topic which may be deemed "radical" or "socially unacceptable," journalists must weigh their integrity against the consequences. As much as they would like to critique social problems, it simply is not tolerated - working-class dilemmas and tribulations are not economically beneficial. Journalists, according to Chicago Tribune writer Len Ackland, "worry about editing. They worry about being removed from choice beats, or being fired (Parenti, 38)." These methods work well to keep them "in line."


Beyond the printed media, radio and television are not above advertiser influence. Individuals are made aware of "social patterns" through broadcast media, patterns which are often carefully dictated through commercials and general entertainment features designed to initiate participation in the sponsoring market-driven enterprises (Schiller, 2). Through largely subversive techniques, radio and television propagate viewpoints in which consumption is the only means to ease the pressure of living in a capitalistic society. In order to further spread this propaganda, the advertisers require a "friendly" medium in which their directives can thrive. Television and radio are by no means meeting places for the free flow of ideas and imagination. These forms of broadcasting exist for the main purpose of manufacturing and distributing symbollic goods within a predetermined, controlled program schedule. The sole relationship of the individual to the media is manifest in the advertisement.

From their beginnings, radio and television have existed almost exclusively to fulfill the marketing objectives of the business community (Benson, 33).

Of all forms of mass media, television is the most pervasive. In a society desperate for effective communication, some form of connection to reality is more than welcome. Television is an easy way to attain a captive audience, as almost no effort is required on the viewer's part. For the media industry, the viewer's attention is a valuable commodity, as well as an economic necessity. Regardless of whether it has affected the social culture of America, advertising serves as a quick method of profit gain for large media magnates. This procedure, deplorably, often has profound social costs, including a "watering down" of general programming and the news (Bagdikian, 2nd ed., 52).

Journalists who are employed by a private enterprise are increasingly aware that the survival of their employer is directly related to the profitability of the enterprise. Since the boundaries of acceptable reporting are not bordered by any tangible lines, journalists often do not feel the outside pressures until they stray across these lines. An up-and-coming journalist who is attempting to learn by mimicking his or her colleagues may never become aware of what not to do, since all he or she has been exposed to is the accepted means to the end - satisfying the advertiser, often unconsciously. By simply schooling young journalists in what it takes to get a job in the industry today, teachers are unkowingly instilling in them the work ethic needed to survive in a commercialized culture (Parenti, 35).