Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How democratic are we?

Several of my recent blog entries (here, here, here, and here) have had to do with the failure of the mainstream media to keep the public informed. And if one were to look through this blog's archives one would find that a significant number of the posts here are some sort of media related criticism. These issues weigh heavily on my mind because, like Thomas Jefferson, I believe that "the press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being." A society can only be democratic to the extent that its press is free to keep the public informed and to express a diverse range of perspectives and opinions ... it is no coincidence that a free press is one of the first casualties of any totalitarian regime.

So how democratic is our press? Americans pride themselves on being "the freest nation" in the world, so it might come as a bit of a shock to find out that the freest nation in the world does not have the freest press - we rank 22nd on the Third Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index (and we occupy the 108th spot in Iraq.) For the rest of the week I will be blogging examples of the shortcomings of our press and the threat to democracy which the corporatization of the media represents.

With that being said, I give you Is America a Post-democratic Society? How to Preserve Our Republic by Paul Kurtz of the Council for Secular Humanism, which details the erosion of our democratic institutions (including, but not limited to, the press) and asks what can be done about it.

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