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Nicholas Czarnecki

Mr. Campbell

UWRT 1104

30 November 2017

Political bias and censorship, two ideas that alter the news?

It is August 2012 and the job report for the previous month is released. NBC and FOX

news both publish articles about the report. The only problem is the titles of the two articles are

quite different. FOX News publishes an article about the 2012 July job report titled, Wrong-

Way Growth: Jobless Jumps In July as New Hiring Remains Slow. NBC publishes an article

about the same topic, but NBCs article is titled US economys job engine revved up in July.

Two different news outlets with two very different titles that seem to contradict each other and

one job report. If someone looked at both of these articles the reader would not know what to

believe.

This is the great of example of censorship based on political bias. A large majority of

news outlets often put their own spin on a news story to push their own political agenda forward.

FOX News has historically been known as conservative, right-winged based news outlet, and

they published an article about the jobs report under a democratic presidential administration that

paints the picture of a weak economy shows a political bias. While NBC which has historically

been known as a more liberal, and left-winged news outlet published an article that portrays

growth in the United States job market and economy. The actual job report says that in July

2012, 163,000 jobs were added, while the unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent (Lutz). Both

articles were published during the 2012 Presidential race between President Barrack Obama and
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Mitt Romney. FOX News was trying to show the American public that the economy was

struggling under the current democratic administration and there needed to be a change, while

NBC was trying to make it appear that the job market and the economy were both doing well

under the Obama administration. The goal of both news outlets was to try and build support and

momentum for their candidate of choice. Both news outlets were focused on their political

agendas, and the public suffered from it. This example shows how political biases influence the

news cycle here in America, but this is not just something happening in the United States it is a

worldwide problem. The main question though is how and why do news outlets use political bias

to create censorship?

As of 2011 the ninety percent of the media that we watch, read, and listen to it is

controlled by six major corporations. Those six include GE, News-Corp, Time Warner, CBS,

VIACOM, and Disney. News outlets such as FOX, CNN, NBC, ABC, and several others are all

owned by these six major corporations. Seventy percent of the cable television that Americans

watch is controlled by these six major companies. Compared to 1983 when it took fifty different

companies to compose ninety percent of the American media, when in present day it only takes

six that is significant and alarming decrease (Lutz).

While this could be caused by many different reasons such as the rise of technology, and

production and equipment costs needed to publish news, the decrease is still alarming. Right

now, the news market as it stands looks like an oligopoly which is defined as a market form

wherein a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers. While it is close to a

monopoly it is not, a monopoly is defined as the exclusive possession or control of the supply or

trade in a commodity or service, even though this does not exist yet here in America. It does

abroad in foreign countries such as China, Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and many others. The point
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being Americans need to pay attention to what is happening around them even though there is no

per say monopoly on the media yet here in the United States reducing the amount of companies

that provide us news from fifty to six in thirty years is something to be watched carefully. If this

is not taken seriously and closely watched then public media could fade away and government

controlled news outlets could control all of the media in the near future.

While censorship is an issue here in the United States, the censorship that happens in

foreign countries is much larger and influential. In the Columbia Journalism Review, Phillip

Bennett and Moises Naim write that In countries such as Hungary, Ecuador, Turkey, and

Kenya, officials are mimicking autocracies like Russia, Iran, or China by redacting critical news

and building state media brands. The author is talking about how these foreign governments use

the media to influence the people with propaganda that supports the current government of that

country. The goal is to try and control what the people see, watch, read, and listen to. These

governments often do this because they are trying to get support from the public by influencing

them with news and media that supports the government of that specific country. In the article

Bennett and Naim write about Russia and say

President Vladimir Putin is remaking the media landscape in the governments image. In

2014, multiple media outlets were blocked, shuttered, or saw their editorial line change

overnight in response to government pressure. While launching its own media operations,

the government approved legislation limiting foreign investment in Russian media. The

measure took aim at publications like Vedomosti, a daily newspaper respected for its

standards and independence and owned by three foreign media groups: Dow Jones, the

Financial Times Group and Finlands Sanoma.


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Russia and many other countries are trying to control what the public sees that way control the

public opinion of the people. This is the what modern-day propaganda looks like, control of the

news on television, the radio, and the internet.

While there are great examples of censorship here in the United States media, and many

other foreign countries the place where this is most prominent is in China. China in recent years

has been known to censor any kind of media that comes from the outside of the government

controlled media outlets. In China the media is so severely censored by the government in China

that a nickname for it developed on the internet called the Great Firewall. China has the most

internet usage and the fastest growing population of connected internet users in the world. This

firewall put in place by the Chinese government is there to block anything on the internet that the

government deems unacceptable content, including foreign news sites. Seventy-six percent of the

internet users in China felt free from government surveillance (Bennett and Naim). In the article

published by the Columbia Journalism Review that was referenced previously the authors talk

about how the Internet has made it easy for the Chinese government to implement censorship

plans and strategies that are hard for people to detect. The point of this is keep the governments

efforts hidden from public eye that way people are not suspicious. The government only wants to

promote and support news that favors them and their agenda. Anything written about the

government that could be viewed as harmful is often extremely difficult to get published and if it

does it will often be banned. Hong Kong is a great example of this, Bennett and Naim write

about it and say China is obligated by treaty to respect a free press, Beijing has used an array of

measures to limit independent journalism, including selective violence against editors and the

arrest of reporters. But it has also arranged the firing of critical reporters and columnists and the

withdrawal of advertising by state and private sources, including multinationals, and launched
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cyberattacks on websites. (Bennett and Naim). China has almost control of the public media and

has been able to build up a defense against anything that could possibly harm the government.

The key to the Chinese censorship effort is the element of stealth, often known as stealth

censorship. It is often practiced by foreign governments other than China, such as Venezuela,

Russia, and Mexico.

Stealth censorship and corruption unfortunately tend to go hand and hand together quite

often. There is no better example of this than in Mexico where corruption runs rampant through

the government. A Mexican activist named Alberto Escorcia wrote an article about recent unrest

in the country earlier this year. The day his article was published he received multiple threats, in

the following days the threats grew in number and he quickly began making plans to flee from

Mexico. Albertos story was written Duncan Tucker and published by the Index on Censorship

after Alberto made these threats public. Tucker writes about corruption in Mexico and says

Many people are concerned about the state of freedom of expression in Mexico. A stagnant

economy, a currency in freefall, a bloody drug war with no end in sight, a deeply unpopular

president at home (Tucker). These things, as well as the extremely low levels of support

shown for the current Mexican President who has approval ratings just barely at twelve percent

have lead to unrest and turmoil in the country. This unrest has led to the news not only being

suppressed but fabricated entirely. This happened only earlier this year after reports of a rise in

petrol prices and riots broke out across Mexico that lasted for days. The government was forced

to try and create news stories that would make the situation not look as dire as it really was. This

a perfect example of how censorship creates tension between the public and the media. The

government had control of the media and, so they put out stories to try and control the situation.

They tried to make the citizens of Mexico and the outside world think that the situation was
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under control and everything was fine, when they were just trying to cover up the chaos that was

going on in Mexico. This is an example of how censorship and political bias controlled the news

and told a story that was not truthful. Again, this problem is something happens here in

American and internationally. It is a global issue and needs to be treated as such, but this issue

does not just exist in the news outlets that people watch on television.

In recent years the rise of social media and the internet has become a place for censorship

to run wild through. Anyone with a computer and a blog can try to spin stories to support the side

of the story that they agree with. Larry Atkins talks about this in his book Skewed and he talks

about how Any person with a cell phone, a blog, or a Twitter account can be a provider of

information or act like a reporter. The point that Atkins is trying to make here is that anyone

with an internet connection can take a story and spin it to support what side or bias they believe

in. Now that is their right to free expression, but it is like the old saying goes too many cooks in

the kitchen spoils the broth. Meaning that if there are thousands of people pouring in their own

version of the story how can anyone ever really know what the truth is? People have a right to

free expression and the freedom of press, but it is something to be concerned about in this

modern era.

Larry Atkins also talks about how In many cases, people who develop popular blogs and

huge audiences are gobbled up by mainstream media, such as Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette), Bill

Simmons (ESPN), and Nate Silver (first by FiveThirtyEight and then the New York Times, and

then ESPN). The point of this is that people who take advantage of the ability to report news

through these no outlets are often pursued larger news outlets looking to increase their number of

viewers. This is important because it shows how individuals are taking advantage of the new

advances in technology to spread the news that they want people to see. People are learning that
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in modern times one of the best and most efficient ways to get news out to a large audience is

using the internet. These technological advances have and are going to continue to change the

face of the media, but no one quite knows how just yet. It is something to keep an eye on because

the internet is not just something that Americans can use it is something that people

internationally use. It would be very easy for a news network to spread its own bias and political

bias across the internet and have millions if not billions of people see it.

A New York Times writer wrote, News media bias is real. It reduces the quality of

journalism, and it fosters distrust among readers and viewers. This is bad for democracy.

(Carney) If the New York Times is willing to publish and article where they admit that political

bias is a thing then we know it is a real problem. The media creates the news and the news is

shown to the public, the major concern is what is the public seeing? Are they seeing the facts,

and the truth or are they just seeing the spin that a certain news station has put on the story to

help support their own political agenda. This is a real problem that the world faces especially in

recent months as President Donald Trump has called out almost every major news network on

cable television for putting out what he calls Fake News. Now while this just may be the

Presidents way of handling bad press there is some truth to what he is saying whether he

realizes it or not. The whole idea of Fake News is that the media is only putting stories to hurt

the Presidents image. The President believes that the news outlets are all out to get him he said

in a tweet on November 27, 2017 We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus

CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political

coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS

TROPHY! That is a tweet written by the President of the United States, now he may not be the

most popular person to have ever held the office, but if his tweet is looked at carefully you can
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still see that even he has his own political biases. President Trump wants to exclude FOX News

from his challenge because they have a conservative news network that more than likely is

going to run stories that support his side of a story. While he wants to take CNN the liberal

network and just toss them right under the big Fake News bus and let them get run over. If

even the President of the United States supports these political biases and agendas that is a sign

that there must be a larger problem in play. People need to wake up and see that the media and

news outlets around them are often misleading them. They are trying to influence the public

using censorship to further their own agendas and even the President is no different.

In conclusion censorship in the media is something that the world needs to pay very close

attention to. This is a problem that is not just affecting citizens of the United states, but people

everyone. People in countries that were mention previously such as China, Russia, and Mexico,

along with so many others. This is a global epidemic of censorship and something that people

need to take more seriously. Now it is something like nuclear war, but it is still something of

great significance. People need to understand that they have the right to the truth, but what they

do not need is some spin of a news story that is only going to benefit one side. Both sides of

every story should be heard that way the public can form accurate and educated opinions and

responses to the given situations. Censorship while not talked is something that is slowly

strangling the life out of the United States and the entire world. It is slowly taking away the right

for people to know the truth. Often if a story is going to hurt a news outlet or make them look

bad they simply will not run it. Why should they take the chance of receiving bad PR, that is not

what they want. All they want is for more people to continue to tune into their television shows,

and read their news articles. They want to grow their audiences and they will do anything to do
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that is why they use censorship to try and hide the parts that they believe the public does not

want to here. When in reality all the public real wants and needs to know the simple, plain truth.
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Works Cited

Atkins, Larry. Skewed. Prometheus Books, 2016. Print.

Bennett, Philip, and Moises Naim. 21st-Century Censorship. Columbia Journalism Review , 5

Jan. 2015, http://archives.cjr.org/cover_story/21st_century_censorship.php. Web. 13

October 2017.

Carney, Timothy P. Liberal News Bias Has a Serious Effect. The New York Times, 21 Dec.

Lutz, Ashley. These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America. Business Insider,

June 2012, http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-

media-in-america-2012-6

Tucker, Duncan. Journalists in Mexico under Threat from Cartels, Government and Even Each

Other. Index On Censorship, 13 Apr. 2017,

https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2017/04/journalists-mexico-threat-cartels-

government-even/. Web. 18 October 2017