Thursday, July 11, 2013

The duties of the 4th estate

The press like to tell us sometimes about how they are doing an important, necessary job - communicating the truth to the wider public. It is, I think, one of the reasons that you want a free press, so that you can have an informed citizenry, which is essential to a well run democracy. The press will, of occasion, descend into scandal and hyperbole, but the essential goal, so we are told is to deliver the truth.

Whose fault then is it, I wonder, when the public are not aware of the actual state of their nation? Admittedly the numbers that that article talks about are for Britain. Which is not surprising, given that it's in the Guardian. I wouldn't be surprised though to learn of similar misapprehensions occurring here in New Zealand. 

If the information is available, the most likely cause for the public's ignorance that I can think of is that there is a problem with the communication. And it is the press that is doing the communication. The press are the ones bringing us the news of crime, immigration and taxes. If what is real is  significantly different from the public understands the case to be then the conclusion that I am forced to draw is that the press isn't doing a particularly good job at presenting the truth.

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