How is it that mainstream media supports a democracy? Simple. Freedom of speech and expression that helps engage the public. A democracy is a form of government in which people can freely govern themselves as well as given power to elected representatives.
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Every citizen in their given country has the chance to vote and elect these representatives and people in power. Power can also be held directly by the people themselves as well. In a democracy, there is a belief of freedom and equality amongst the people as well as a system that is put in place based on these beliefs. The role of media in democracy has grown immensely in the last couple of years because of how popular social media and media in general has become. Media in a democracy can help educate voters, report, and can help explore someone’s interest. Because democracy needs citizens and the people to be actively participating, the media plays the role of keeping these people/citizens engaged in the government by informing, educating, reporting, and gathering the public. Technology has become so popular that someone can go online and google search anything and have the answer right there with doing little to know research. This gives the people the easy way of getting engaged and educated in the public because of the media’s role. Media is the backbone of a democracy as it helps shapes our views and makes us aware of the various social, political, and economic situations whether it shows us the bare truth or harsh realities of the world.
Mainstream media in the United States today supports American democracy by giving everyone an opportunity to express their right of freedom of speech and giving people the right to send and deliver (communicate) these messages without being oppressed by authorities.
Everyone in the United States has the right to freedom of speech. In this democratic state, each and every citizen has the opportunity to express these thoughts, feelings, ideas with words, symbols, actions and freedom. The media certainly gives the people this opportunity where they can do and say whatever they want to help report, educate and gather the community and audience they are reaching out to. The freedom of speech that these mainstream media platforms give us are very important in democracy because to make it effective, it needs the citizens to be able to participate actively and critic the government. These media platforms could include: radio, social media, online newspapers/articles, and television. For example, on social media platforms, people can go on there and publicly express their thoughts and feelings and give their opinions without any permission. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter all give the user a freedom to say and do whatever they want on the platform. It helps support public activism and engagement within the democracy. In a Social Philosophy & Policy article called Democratic Ideals and Media Realities: A Puzzling Free Press Paradox, author Michael Kent Curtis says, “My fourth and final suggestion for protecting the environment needed for a democratic system of freedom of expression is to encourage citizen activism”. Because media is so easy to access and gives the platform for anyone to speak on certain issues, it can help get the population more involved. Kent also goes on to give us an example, “Some Americans have politely asked television networks to do their part to respond to the current crisis in representative government. A group called Alliance for Better Campaigns (led by former Presidents Ford and Carter and Walter Cronkite) has suggested a modest beginning. It has called on television stations and networks, in the thirty days before an election, to devote 5 minutes a night to broadcasting what candidates say–up they say from a total of 40 seconds typically provided to all candidates.” Not only is this giving the public a freedom of speech and expression, but it’s also giving them a platform to express these thoughts and opinions which is easy to reach and use therefore supporting public engagement and activism helping support a democracy.
While these forms of social media signify what freedom of speech and expression look like, one way in which we can improve the democracy is for social media platforms like the ones stated above as well as television broadcast such as Fox News and CNN need to stop controlling what people will see whether it’s sponsored, censored, or biased. I can see the point in censoring content if it is a form of hate speech which violates the 1st amendment. By these media platforms especially social media and television broadcasts, a lot of stuff can be removed or censored which takes away that person’s freedom of speech and expression. I think one way in which we can improve democracy would be finding a happy medium between the expression of free speech but also the censorship and sponsored formats to help better support democracy. This would include giving people the option to skip over sponsorship ads, as well as given the option to citizens if they want sensitive content to be censored or not. As far as bias goes, it’s going to be everywhere you look and depend on where you are looking. This just shows someone’s freedom of expression and speech which helps supports democracy as it keeps the public engaged.
Whether you’re posting something on social media, communicating with the people through radio, or being able to show your interests and views through television news and online news sources, you can say and do what you want while communicating these messages without being oppressed by authorities and people. There is so many polices against oppression like the first amendment for example that protects those from use of fighting words, hate speech, blackmail, as well at threats. Social media platforms, you are able to report people if they have violated the 1st amendment and used their first speech incorrectly.
Another way to help improve media to strengthen democracy based off communicating messages without being oppressed by authorities would be to show more equality. There seems to be a major way in which authorities treat people and what messages they try to communicate and convey between social media and the outside world. For example, someone in social media could aggressively voice their thoughts and opinions and no one stops them but in the real world, like at rallies and protests, authorities seem to treat citizens with harsher treatment then through an electronic. Democracy is all about giving the people a freedom of speech and equality and although the freedom of speech is there, equality needs to be worked on. Whether its cracking down on the hate speech in social media and authorities treating it the same way as rallies and protests or having it the other way around, one or the other needs improving to help keep this democracy strong and moving forward.
Although there are many ways in which mainstream media for the majority supports American democracy, there are some ways in which it can go against democracy. For example, certain media platforms such as social media as well as online articles/newspapers limits what viewers see because of the side that they support politically. In other words, mainstream media should be a place where people can easily go too to find news without any source supporting one side more than the other and being very bias. It should be a place where people go to express and voice their thoughts, opinions, and ideas without being told to pick and choose a side. In the text We the People: An introduction to American Politics, author(s) Benjamin Ginsberg, Theodore J. Lowi, Margaret Weir, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Robert J. Spitzer, mention how the media can influence the public opinion by choosing what they present and how they present it. They claim that “the media can shape and modify, if not fully form, the public’s perception of events, issues, and institutions. Media coverage can rally support for, or intensify opposition to, national policies on matters as weighty as health care, the economy, and international wars” (Ch. 6, Page 189). Like I’ve mentioned previously, to support an American democracy, the press gets a right of freedom of speech and they get to post what they want without being oppressed by authorities. Yes, they are still doing this but at the same time some are coming out with complete bias statements and sometimes false news or in Donald Trump’s words “Fake News”. This goes against democracy as some media outlets are abusing their freedom to say whatever they want to shape public opinion whether it’s right or wrong. In the end though, the democracy is still being supported by mainstream media as every person gets to do and say whatever they want to say without being punished for it.
Based on the two arguments above, American media is effectively fulfilling the role of free press in this democracy rather than tearing it down. Media has allowed people to become more actively engaged as well as better educated and informed because of how easy it is to communicate messages with little to no effort. Media can help reach out to the majority of a society because of the many platforms of it whether being broadcasts, radio, online newspaper/articles, and social media. All of these platforms are easy to access and most are free so the general public has access to it all and all the information. These platforms allow anybody no matter their age, the right to practice their right of freedom of speech and being able to say and do anything without the oppression of authorities. There is a group called Youth Media Action or YMA, that is an independent Youth Media Hub that helps get the youth more involved in politics among the media and free speech. In the article, Making Media for Themselves: Strategic Dilemmas of Prefigurative Work in Independent Media Outlets, author Rachel Kulick says, “YMA identifies inclusivity as a key cultural dimension of free speech. In other words, YMA strives to assure that all individuals have the resources to exercise their first amendment rights of free speech through the production of socially conscious media. […] The YMA prefigurative practices of modeling an alternative media culture of inclusivity occur through cultivating a sense of shared ownership and solidarity, with a focus on producing noncommercial media.” Even the media plays a role in getting the youth engaged and better understand politics. The freedom of speech that these mainstream media platforms give us are very important in democracy because to make it effective, it needs the citizens to be able to participate actively and critic the government.
In conclusion, mainstream media has played a huge role in today’s society and politics as it is a way where citizens can go to voice their thoughts and opinions as well as politicians use it as a platform to get their name and message/agendas out there. Democracy needs to be supported by the voice of the people in order to keep it strong and strengthen it. Because we saw how much technology plays a huge role in today’s society, mainstream media is the heart of a democracy. People have a way to easily access these platforms that make it simpler to participate and engage in social activism. Mainstream media allows the democracy to keep on growing and getting stronger by supporting the freedom of speech among all platforms as well as the communication between the population without being oppressed by authorities.
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