The United States of America is built on the pillars of freedom, outlined in the Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!
These principles were put in place over 200 years ago. They are ideals. As Americans, we pride ourselves on the fact that our government continues to uphold these ideals even centuries later.
But as time goes on, the sharp reality is that our pride is becoming increasingly false. Civil liberties are in danger, in particular the freedom of the press.
In late 2013, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) released a scathing report on the Obama Administration and the press written by Leonard Downie Jr. with reporting by Sara Rafsky.
“U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.”
An interesting point discussed in this report is the use of social media by the administration. By communicating directly with the public, this eliminates the need for traditional news media sources in order to obtain information about government activities. However, as a professor at the School of Media & Public Affairs at George Washington University points out, “‘Open dialogue with the public without filters is good, but if used for propaganda and to avoid contact with journalists, it’s a slippery slope.'” When the government controls the media, it controls the flow of information. In this way, the truth may become increasingly compromised over time.
Whether or not the public is aware, the US is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for journalists.