Impact of Government Policies and Regulations on Media Freedom

This paper explains the major problems that affect media freedom in the United States, and possible solutions to the problems. It is paramount that media freedom is limited by many government policies and regulations, an aspect that questions the true democracy of United States of America. Some of the government polices include curbing of all unauthorized contacts between federal employees and journalists, and the most unfortunate one is the act of summoning journalist and suspected media outlets and being entangled in leak investigations. This does not only diminish the reputations of the journalists but also discourage them from achieving their desired goals and ambitions in the media industry. Other problems include prosecution of the journalist under the Espionage Act, prosecution of leakers of classified information, and introduction of surveillance programs that seem to target the performances of the media industry and the journalists (Gehlbach &Sonia, 2014).

The Obama administration is very cautious and controls the kind of information shared with the press with the main aim of preventing unauthorized leaks. The White house has gone to an extent of deploying its own media so as to curb disclosure of information. This works in contrary to what President Obama promised Americans, that his government was going to be one of the most transparent in history. The administration has used the social media, videos and its various sophisticated websites to provide information about its activities, this might seem to be one of its ways of promoting media freedom and expression (Gehlbach & Sonia, 2014). However, it is sad to add that the information being disclosed is too little for the members of public and the press to hold the government accountable for its policies and actions. This therefore raises many controversies and questions. That is why this paper raises a claim that government policies and regulations are to a larger extent intimidating freedom of press and that better policies have to be developed.

After mentioning examples of problems faced by journalists and other media personnel, it is also important to mention why the government and other private media owners contributed to the formation of policies that limit freedom of speech and expression. The first one is that the government employed the use of different tactics like arresting of journalists suspected of leaking unclassified information with the main aim of preventing possible criticisms concerning government activities (Lebovic, 2016). Other unprecedented events like kidnaping and murdering of journalists by terrorists and non-state forces was done with the aim of preventing airing of armed conflicts and organized crimes by the journalists. This does not only lead to loss of lives but also infringes the right to live and distorts channels of passing out important information to members of public.

The other reason is that wealthy media owners who dominate the private sector in the media industry shape the coverage of news in ways that favor the government, popular political parties, and their own personal interests. The interests of the public are not in any way reflected in their activities. This is why important information that is meant to be conveyed to the public through the media is restricted to what the government would like to be disclosed (Simpson, 2016). The press is held in low esteem even if it does its job as required by the law. The major problem facing American press is the loss of facts. Despite of the existence of N.S.A, Americans are not able to access factual information in the right manner. This is because the information might be distorted in the process of communication by the selfish individuals who want to safeguard their own interests.

The various threats to freedom of the press are complicating the operations and performances for the journalists. The public on the other hand are being deprived the right to access unbiased information and the comprehensive reporting by the journalists. However, resilient journalists and bloggers have continued to transmit information to the public, circulating views and ideas that contradict those promoted by the government. By doing this, the journalists are much aware of the tough consequences awaiting them, which may involve imprisonments. The government claims that it passes and uses restrictive laws against the press because of national security reasons (Happer & Philo, 2013). To some extent, it is seen as a considerable choice, but why would the same government restrict the access of important government information to its own citizens? It is great and very welcoming to say that the government has the sole responsibility of providing intense security to all Americans, but this should be done in fair, justifiable and transparent ways. Having said that, it is paramount to add that, one of the ways of promoting good governance is by promoting freedom of the press. This can be done by the formation and implementation of government policies and regulations that protect media freedom.

The media and all its stakeholders are well protected by the U.S. Constitution. It is important to mention the facts that support the freedom of press and freedom of speech and expression. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinions, which includes the right to hold opinions with no forms of interference , the right to seek, receive and impart information and thoughts through the media (Brettschneider, 2012). The other supporting fact is the First Amendment Act, which states that the Congress shall not make laws respecting an establishment of religion, or that prohibits the freedom of speech, the press, or the rights of people to assemble peacefully. It also gives the people the right to petition the government in case of any grievances that might arise.  Using this facts as basis for arguing for the provision of media freedom, the government has to take the responsibility of amending all it policies and regulations that infringe the rights of the journalists and media owners.

It is very dangerous to establish rules and regulations that safeguard the flow of information, and care should be taken when such laws are made. This is because the laws might hinder the free flow of information, or even promote undesired underground expression of ideas and making it impossible to detect propagandas with informed consents. All organizations whether state or non-state with the intentions of developing and promoting media freedom should embrace three major issues, media independence, access and absence of restrictions (Lebovic, 2016). All sectors of society should have the right of accessing the media to gain more knowledge and desired information with no interference by the government. This paper concludes by suggesting that minimal government interference is a mandatory condition for an effective media environment that can support democracy.

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