By Zachary Blackwell
Elm Staff Writer
With how pervasive the influence of mass media has become in the past several decades, it’s almost inevitable today that people will get their information delivered to them by news channels on TV, on the radio, or online. There are several different news media channels out there, like NBC, CNN, and Fox, that people — for better or for worse — get a heavy dosage of their daily information from.
The sheer amount of news outlets mean that it can be tricky for people to receive relatively unbiased information. This issue, combined with the increasing proliferation of “fake news” sources online, can lead to a sense of unease about hotly-debated news topics. This unease is not just limited to the general public, but also to those who work and lead the government, and it has extended to the chief executive of the United States.
The concern over how perceived “fake news” sources have portrayed President Donald Trump has been one of his rallying cries of his presidential campaign since he started his run in 2015 and has continued during his time in the White House. Trump has decried how the media has handled discussing his presidency and has labeled reporters as being “unfair” towards him.
Trump’s perception of unfair news reporting is the reason why he has recently suggested that the United States could create its own state-run news network.
On November 26, the President tweeted about what he sees as unfair news coverage by CNN: “While CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S. they have very little competition. Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair and false way. Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”
It’s not really known how serious Trump’s proposal is, but for him to mention state-run media as a possibility indicates how disgruntled he has become over the coverage mainstream media outlets like CNN give him.
Despite Trump’s proposal to establish alternative news media ran by the U.S. government, government-funded news outlets already exist, according to Business Insider. Congress funds, for example, Voice of America, a part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, a government agency that oversees non-military international broadcasting by the government. According to Voice of America, it provides “news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of 236.8 million people” and “produces content for digital, television, and radio platforms”.
The existence of Voice of America shows that Americans technically have access to government-run media, even if it doesn’t have the same spotlight as more well-known, privately-funded media outlets like CNN.
Another problem with Trump’s proposal, other than the fact that government-run media outlets exist, is that the concept of a media news outlet that is run completely by the government and promoted as an alternative to mainstream news sources like CNN is authoritarian.
It’s unusual for a state-run media outlet to be proposed in the U.S. simply because the president is not happy with any media outlet that happens to disagree with him. The context under which the proposal was made is reminiscent of state-run media in authoritarian countries, where dissent is strictly kept under control.
It is unfortunate that state-run news media is being proposed simply because of the way other media outlets have been reporting about certain issues. I do think it’s important that many alternative news sources are made available to wide audiences, that way people can listen to a wide variety of stations and personalities.
It’s exceedingly unlikely that you can avoid biases on hot political topics, regardless of where the information is coming from, or how many sources you are getting the story from.
However, it’s important to remember that government-funded media outlets already exist for the right reason: to give people a source of information, reported in a careful manner and with a dedication to the truth.
Proposing new state-run media simply because you don’t like hearing negative reports does not reflect well on a country that is supposed to be a beacon of freedom in the world.