The First Amendment protects media freedom. Libel laws protect against false facts. New York Times vs. Sullivan forces government officials to prove malice in libel cases against the media.
The courts balance between freedom of the press and an individual’s right to privacy. The court ruled in favor of the press in Near vs. Minnesota and the New York Times vs. U.S. citing “prior restraint.”
Libel suits against journalists in the 1950s test the confidentiality of sources. But journalists fight to keep their source’s identity secret, which underscored the right of the public to be informed.
Due to “spectrum scarcity,” “listener sovereignty,” and public ownership of the airwaves, the government created the Federal Communications Act and the FCC to regulate broadcast media.
Congress attempts to limit children’s programming. Deregulation, cable television, and the Internet open up new options and challenges, including balancing public interests and constitutional rights.
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Tabloid journalism. Kinky TV talk shows. "Gangsta" rap music. Sexually explicit and violent movies. The media have established new outposts in the frontiers of taste that were thought impossible 30 years ago, and all in the name of First Amendment rights and giving the public what it wants. But with these rights come responsibilities that are seldom respected. What leverage can society use beyond the boycott and angry letter to put curbs on the more outrageous forms of media expression? What is the rightful role of government? How do we balance these measures with a healthy respect for creativity and freedom of expression? This program looks at all of the issues surrounding the medias pursuit of the advertising dollar versus its responsibility to exercise some concern for the public good. (28 minutes)
Length: 29 minutes
Copyright date: ©1997
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Mass Media in Society
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