Essay: Censorship in the Media

In the article “When doubt, Publish” published July, 9 in Washington Post author Geoffrey Cowan discusses contemporary issues of political censorship in mass media of the USA. Cowan writes that after September, 11 situation had dramatically changed in today’s press as all independent publishing companies in the country are sharply criticized by government and can often be subjected to charges. The main reason of such issues is the growing control of state over mass media and public opinion, which should be the same as official ideology of Washington. The main issues which is discussed in the article in the margin between “what is allowed and “what is banned” in mass media. Author writes that there exist a number of state secrets which can not be disclosed to public, as national security will suffer. From the other side hiding under the slogan of national security protection, government limits freedoms of its citizens, especially freedom of speech and freedom to get objective information.

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Mass media censorship issues in the USA take place, as sometimes information which is published in the newspapers or covered in news blocks is different from what government, CIA, conservative politicians want society to know. A vivid example is case of Times: “President Bush has denounced the Times in exceptionally harsh language, and on June 29 the House formally condemned the paper. Some critics of the Times have termed its actions “treasonous” and called for criminal charges under the Espionage Act. One conservative commentator told the San Francisco Chronicle that she would happily send Bill Keller, the paper’s executive editor, to the gas chamber.” (Cowan) This article discusses only issues of state secrets and national security interests in the context of mass media censorship. In many respects, author agrees with government control of mass media, but he doesn’t analyze much the objective analysis of the current events, issues in politics and in the US foreign policy. Censorship and absence of objective media contributes to the only public opinion in the country, that what the USA government does is “for the good of American nation”. It’s a well-known fact that interpretation of events that reflect situation in the world is basically the product of the opinion the U.S. government, it’s officials and official media sources want to present to the mass viewer. Nearly every channel, every online or paper periodical gives the same light on the event but from different perspectives, yet altogether reflecting the only dominant point. Today it’s the main gain of media censorship which started all the way back in 1950’s during McCarthy era and which continued to shaping of mass media as a tool of ruling elite. For along time there was a little need in open opposition and critics of state in the country.

Today it’s difficult to find any periodical, which tried to question objective reasons of the war in Iraq and correct interpretation on war on terrorism, as well as other issues referring to the financing, protection of people’s rights in particular cases, etc. When the USA accuses other countries for imposing censorship on freedom of speech, press, literature it has to remember that it’s legislation is imperfect as well.


Cowan, Geoffrey When in Doubt, Publish By On Secrets Washington Post Sunday, July 9, 2006; Page B02

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