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Blog 4: Journalists role in times of crisis

I think in describing whether the press should question the president during times of war it is important to understand what the role of the press is.  Our text book describes three functions of the media, but only one of which applies to this situation; and that is to serve as a watchdog.  “To serve as a watchdog scrutinizing the actions of government officials on behalf of citizens, most of whom do not have the opportunity to closely follow the actions of politicians and the government.” (pg. 19 Media Politics)  I personally think it is absolutely imperative for the media to question the government, even in times of war.  There is a reason that freedom of the press is listed as the first amendment to the American Constitution.  Questioning of the government has been going on before the official formation of the United States.  The Pennsylvania Evening Post.  Though it is important for the media to question the government, I also believe a system of checks and balance should be in place, especially in this day and age with integrated and instant media.   After some research I found that this type of system is in place.  The media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) tracked all references to Iraq in four daily network newscasts aired by ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS after the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers.  (pg. 98 Media Politics)  I think that this group often goes to far especially in the case the World Trade Center attacks.  The fact that the government can control the amount of coverage to sway the public opinion is scary to me.

While I think a system of checks and balances needs to be in place on ends, I think that it needs to be limited.  Without regulations on what the media can publish, treason and libel would be legal but without regulations on what the government can block we will be controlled by Big Brother.  Well we might not get to that point but I think this quote for 1984 poses a good question.

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” (George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3)

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