Real World Graduation: Question 39

RealWorldGraduation_Question_39   <– PDF

Media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television are important sources of news and information to the voters. Because the success of a democratic republic requires voters to be well-informed, it is important for the media to report on issues in a truthful manner.  The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”.   This means that the government is bound in principle, and the officers of the government are bound by oath, to recognize the pre-existing right of the media to be immune to governmental interference; that is, the media themselves are free to develop their own standards for accuracy in their reporting.  Because there is no formal system or standardization imposed by the government, what standard have the media imposed on themselves?  This question does not apply to the internet.

a) Media outlets are prohibited from reporting facts, even in news stories.

b) Media outlets are prohibited from expressing any opinions or biases by reporters, management, or editors. The only opinions that are allowed are those of readers in “Letters to the Editor” or by viewer emails in the case of radio and television.

c) When reporting “news”, the media reports only the facts. The media outlet may be biased in their opinions, but those opinions are reserved solely to portions of articles or broadcast segments clearly labeled as “Opinion” or “Editorial”.

d) Opinions of reporters and editors reflecting their personal biases are allowed within news stories, but are segregated in their own section, and clearly labeled as “opinion”.

e) Although the exact practice varies from state to state, and from market to market, nearly every media outlet has adopted either c) or d) as an informal standard.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the pdf.)

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