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They are seen as too powerful on the one hand, and not trustworthy on the other.n the wake of America's successful revolution, it was decided there should indeed be government, but only if it were accountable to the people.The journalistic purists - often those sitting in comfortable chairs far from conflict - say it is not their job to "play God" in such matters, and that one should not "shoot the messenger for the message." If, however, one takes the rigid view that the truth always needs to be controlled -- or Lenin's dictum that truth is partisan -- the door is wide open for enormous abuse, as history has demonstrated time and again.
Otherwise, the public will not buy the product, and the company will lose money.
So, profitability and public service can go hand in hand.
It cannot do that without hard information, leavened with an open exchange of views.
Abraham Lincoln articulated this concept most succinctly when he said: "Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe." Some might regard Lincoln's as a somewhat naive viewpoint, given the complexities and technologies of the 20th century; but the need for public news has been a cornerstone of America's system almost from the start.
In the broadest sense, the media embraces the television and film entertainment industries, a vast array of regularly published printed material, and even public relations and advertising.
The "press" is supposed to be a serious member of that family, focusing on real life instead of fantasy and serving the widest possible audience.Fairly simple in theory, but how has all this worked out?Generally speaking, pretty well, although the concept of a free press is challenged and defended every day in one community or another across the land.In one sense, the marketplace can be the ally, rather than the enemy of a strong, free media.For the public to believe what it reads, listens to and sees in the mass media, the "product" must be credible.The American press has always been influential, often powerful and sometimes feared, but it has seldom been loved.As a matter of fact, journalists today rank in the lower echelons of public popularity.The people, in turn, could only hold the government accountable if they knew what it was doing and could intercede as necessary, using their ballot, for example.This role of public "watchdog" was thus assumed by a citizen press, and as a consequence, the government in the United States has been kept out of the news business.In such an environment, truth in the service of the public seems almost a quaint anachronism.Is the capitalist drive an inherent obstacle to good journalism?