Would you trust a government-owned newspaper to provide objective information and news?Would you trust a government-owned newspaper to provide objective information and news?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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I must admit that I trust newspaper and television coverage of the news now. Fox News is unable to be objective of, for example, politics. Because they cannot present both sides objectively, I cannot look to them for my news.

Even the major networks, especially the national news that comes on after the local news, struggles with reporters that truly want to present the news as they experience it or research it, but so often what they cover is based on ratings and now on the objective sense of that is newsworthy. How much time did we watch the trial of O.J. Simpson, to some extent Robert Blake, and then Michael Jackson, and the list goes on. It's like someone writing a book report: do I need to now that the girl was wearing, about the hand-sewn seed pearls on her gauzing dress, or do I want to know where she is going and is there intrigue, a mystery, a cover-up? I want the bottom line.

If the "professionals" cannot be allowed to do their jobs because of competition and ratings, how in Heaven's name will we survive with the government filtering our news? They cannot keep their personal lives separated from the jobs, and so many of them lie while they steal and/or make personal provisions for themselves, while blaming others for out country's problems.

I like the publication called The Week. It is small, comes out once a week, and it not only highlights newsworthy events, but tells both sides. THEY could provide me with my news, but please not the government: hammers and toilet seats that cost thousands of dollars? How could this confuse anyone? Ever?

I don't think so: I'll pass.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I can't really say with that as the only criteria.  Actually I find PBS, National Public Radio and the BBC as some of the most objective news agencies in America today (compared to Fox and MSNBC they are pure as the driven snow).  So if they are government-owned AND independent, I find I can trust them more in general as a non-profit news source not solely dedicated to my mere entertainment.  Newspapers however have much more editorial process than broadcasting, and I fear the temptation of government to censor, filter and propagandize that which is written would be great.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Government ownership of the news media would have devastating consequences for a country. As it currently stands, the news media is controlled by the need for and desire to sell--papers, advertising, and etc. Imagine if the government had control. The ideas of checks and balances as well personal freedoms would be in extreme peril.

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justaguide | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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All the earlier posts rightly suggest that direct ownership does make it very easy for a news medium, especially a newspaper to be manipulated easily to hide true facts and ensure nothing but the good actions are ever revealed to the public.

But is ownership all that is required to accomplish that. If one looks at how the Chinese government manages the spread of negative opinions by banning sites and cutting access to them (or why go all the way to China, when the way access to wikileaks was blocked by DDOS attacks initiated by the US government everyday as an example of what can happen even in a nation which is renowned for the freedom of speech)

And the line between true journalism and sensationalism is quite a blurred one. What is something considered by you as a means to just boost TRPs may be something that is deeply connected to my life.

How objectivity can be maintained, in a news medium of any kind and owned by anyone, would require a separate thread and a lot more discussion than just saying "A government newspaper is bad as it hides the true facts and I know it isn't something that can be trusted."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most notorious historical example of this is of course Pravda, the infamous State ran newspaper of Communist Russia, that was renowned for its distortion of the truth and, indeed, its complete fabrications. The temptation for a government to use such vehicles as media to support its position is overwhelming, and thus I, perhaps rather cynically, am deeply suspicious of such government controlled enterprises. Of course, this does raise a larger issue as to what extent we can believe any form of media, as everyone has their own set of personal biases.

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maadhav19 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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I think it depends on how the media service is structured. Yes, there are plenty of historical examples of state-run propaganda machines. There are also plenty of examples of private propaganda machines, so I don't expect there to be any more or less bias with private or public news sources.

What matters is a separation between the interests of the controlling institution and the news itself - either by farming out the news service as an independent corporation and/or making sure there is divided representation on its controllign board. As important, or more so, is a commitment to independent, objective, and professional journalistic standards among those who actually research, write, and publish the stories.

Since this does relate tothe Public Broadcasting Corporation, I'll add my two cents. I do think that PBS does try to live up to these standards. While there are a significant number of reporters and executives who are politically liberal, it also seems that many do make the effort to ensure that conservative interests and views are also presented. But then, I also listen to programs (on NPR) like "Marketplace," which is certsinly not on lthe left.

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rskardal | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Generally, no. For example, when international journalists quote from China's stateowned news agency, Xinhua, they will sometimes interpret the news agency's stories as messages from the government. Having said that, BBC (UK) and CBC (Canada) are both well respected news agencies that receive funding from the government. In my experience, both provide more objective coverage (and less sensational) than, say, Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN. I recognize that these are not examples from print journalism, but perhaps they provide food for thought. In general, when a disaster, such as a flu outbreak, happens in Asia, my expectation is for Xinhua to say "less than 400 people were affected," CNN and its competitors will say "hundreds killed," and BBC/ CBC will say "analysts suggest that 350 people may have died in this accident, though official results are not in."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Consider those government owned newspapers that have already made the annuals of history.  How objective were the British newspapers printed in the Colonial times of this country?  Or the colonial papers of the English and French Empires?  How objective were the newspapers controlled by the USSR or Nazi Germany?  People were virtually deleted from history in Russia, for one thing.

There is today very limited freedom--is this not an oxymoron?--of the press as the ownership of the paper dictates the liberal or conservative slant of that newspaper.  Some information is withheld from the American public; some is limited in its distribution, and, therefore, biased in its alteration of facts by omission or by its removal from context, or by distortion through exaggeration or mitigation.  The "bottom line" is that the printed word backed by money is political in nature and distorted in its exigency.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would not trust a government-owned newspaper.  The only reason for a government to own a newspaper is to control the content, and make sure that only its spin on things is reported.  Even if the government had the best intentions, staff members would still only report positive things for fear of losing their jobs. 

These days, I don't trust any newspaper.  Most of them are slanted, often because they are owned by big media conglomerates with agendas.  Local newspapers are often heavily influenced by investors in the community, so the paper does not want to offend them.  The free press seems to be only on the Internet these days.

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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No, I think it is too easy for the facts to be spun to support one idea or another. Frankly if we look at the current media, that is exactly what we see. Any educated person can tell in five minutes whether they are watching a liberal or conservative news station or reading a right witng or left wing newspaper. I think a government sponsored paper would be even more likely to spin the facts because the support of their constituents is so important. They government is not a separate entity, it is made of people, and those people mostly want to keep their jobs. In order to do that, they have to make you agree with them, or at least make you believe you do. I'm not sure the most of our current media is objective and I don't think government run media would be any more objective.

However the reality that current American society likes spin. We don't just want the facts, we love opinions and arguments. Too many of us want someone to tell us how to think or "explain" what is really happening. They don't want to analyze the information for themselves. A government run media would just make this lazy attitude towards the world of information more prevalent.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In general, no, I would not.  The only way I might is if the newspaper were simply owned by the government but not operated directly under government control.

For example, here in the US, I do trust that the Public Broadcasting Service is relatively objective (though I do think it has something of a liberal bias).  I do not believe that the government has any sort of real control over it because the day-to-day operations of the service are not controlled by political officials or appointees.  You can see this from the fact that PBS is often very critical of government policies.

So, I generally would not trust such a newspaper.  However, if the people who ran the paper were sufficiently insulated from political pressure, I might be able to trust it.

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krcavnar | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I believe there is a difference between a news network that is partially funded by the government as opposed to a newspaper, radio or television station that is controlled by the government.  While PBS or NPR may get some funding from the government they have generally been known to present a non-biased viewpoint.  While it is in the best interests of any government to have a reputable news source for the public whether by private or public funding, any ability to control the news and information itself should not be held by any government.  We have many examples of government-controlled media which presents skewed facts as we have seen in both Russia and China.  In the United States major issues have come to light due to reporting by news agencies certain conditions or events which have ultimately changed society views.  True journalists are often the "watchdogs" of society and we must allow them to tell the truth no matter the cost.  Governments or leaders would be too tempted to spin what could likely cost a sitting ruler/politician his seat.

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laurasdad | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Would you trust a government-owned newspaper to provide objective information and news?

Would you trust a government-owned newspaper to provide objective information and news?

No. They don't now, with freedom of the press; so why would I believe they would be impartial and objective if owned by the government?  It doesn't work in other nations either.

The government wants the citizens to believe they are representing us, when the truth is that they are most often representing their own selfish desires and that of special interests.  Nowhere is that made more clear than the way the media will take the viewpoint of the vocal minority and present it as representative of how things are.  Anyone who takes at face value any reporting by our media is either gullible or incapable of thinking for themselves.

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