Government and Media

We are witnessing a major change in how government officials communicate with the public. First there were speeches given at railway stations, then there was radio, television, debates, and the internet. Now we are moving into social media.

Since the November 2016 Trump/Clinton election, Government and Media is a topic I keep thinking about. Regardless of which side you were on I believe we were all brainwashed by the media to believe that if the desired candidate lost, America would disintegrate. After all, the largest coverage given to Trump was talk about his harassment of women, and the greatest media coverage of Hillary was her unauthorized server.

The media is in a unique position to decide what is news and influence public opinion. Unfortunately, their selections of stories are usually based on increasing ratings. The book  Collins College Outlines: Introduction to American Government even had a term, new to me, for this type of reporting "Yellow Journalism". In general, Yellow Journalism gives the greatest attention to scandals, violence and disasters.

Yes, this type of sensationalism is entertaining, but it makes me personally feel like a stupid uninformed citizen. I haven't watched televised news very much for years. Each time I go back to news watching, it only last for a few days. I get frustrated by the limited background information offered, the vast amount of commercial interruptions and the stories of animals being rescued from trees. What is news these days?

I'm sure I'm not alone in these thoughts. Media is a powerful tool that changes the way people think. Although some people take extra time to do background research, the majority remain confused and uninformed despite watching the evening news regularly.

Seeing large amounts of people crying after the election was a sorry sight. As voters, most individuals felt the need to pick a side and were then swayed to believe disaster was ahead if their side lost. Depending on background, jobs, education and beliefs, life will be affected by leaders, but the effect should not be overwhelmingly terrible.

Media has influence, but we must not let media control our thinking. We must do independent research to be informed citizens. As Americans we should be proud to have a system that consists of three branches of government which were designed as an insurance policy so that no individual or group of individuals could grab a hold of our government and make radical change. No matter who is in charge, the system was designed so that the only work that "gets done" is agreed upon by a vast majority of citizens. The president is powerful, but even the president cannot easily do everything promised during campaigns.

Although our civil liberties have been slowly disappearing over time, we continue to enjoy more freedoms than most people on the planet. Because there are checks and balances, and because there are both democrats and republicans and libertarians and others, not much "gets done" in congress. For the most part, that is a good thing. When things "get done" that generally means new laws are passed that all citizens must obey. The only new regulations that should be made are those which are agreed upon by a huge majority. When one party controls everything, trouble starts. The balance is tipped and one party can do too much. In other words, we end up with wars, entitlements and policies desired by only a few that affect us all.

Donald Trump has used the media in a way different from any past president or candidate. Shortly after the election, I read an article entitled "If Donald Trump Tweets, is it News?" This concept was fascinating to me. By tweeting, Trump can bypass the media and communicate directly with the people. The media must be terrified of loosing influence. The world and government has gone through similar transitions several times in the past. First there was no major communication network, then newspapers, then radio, then television, then the internet and now social media. FDR took advantage of radio with his Fireside Chats. Kennedy took advantage of television participating in a debate with Nixon. We are going to witness a new first as Trump takes advantage of social media.

How exciting to be witnessing history!!!

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