This paper explores the relationships between creativity, liberalism, and the U.S. media, and concludes that the increasing corporatization of the media, and its concomitant conservatism, is robbing the country of a vital opposition voice. (6+ pages; 1 source; MLA citation style)
A debate rages these days, between conservatives who claim they’re sick of the ‘liberal media’ and liberals who say they haven’t seen anything liberal in the media for years. There is also a debate about whether journalists and writers in the media should be creative or simply report the facts.
This paper will examine the ways in which their occupations and organizations influence and constrain (if they do) creative people in the U.S. media; it will also explore whether and to what extent creative media people seem independent.
Because it seems to be such an obvious choice, we’ll start with an exploration of the idea of the ‘liberal media.’
IIThe ‘Liberal Media’
Most people would like to believe that it is the job of the media to report facts rather than either giving personal opinions or seeking to drive events. But most people today also recognize that the media is not unbiased, and that it does in fact often seek to shape public opinion rather than report it.
So far, there’re various media for people to choose and access the information such as television, radio, Internet, or even mobile phone, consequently, media have a full capacity to set a social subject for mass audience to think and talk about. Often, media do not deliberately set the agenda and determine the pros and cons of that particular issue, so it repeatedly causes bad consequences ...
It’s difficult to state with any degree of accuracy where the idea of the supposed liberal bias in the media started, but it’s certainly not an exaggeration to say that conservatives use the charge of media liberality to condemn any coverage that doesn’t fit into their agenda. It may be that because the term ‘media’ can also apply to television and film, and because there are frequently programs and movies that depict sexual material in a frank and open way, conservatives object to all of it. (I should state that of course there are many conservatives who do not hold the extreme right-wing views of a Pat Robertson or Rush Limbaugh; but these more moderate people no longer seem to have much part in the current debate. Instead, the conservative movement has swung much further to the right, to an almost reactionary status. There is no such corresponding swing to the left.)
What we are left with, then, is a strong conservative bias in the media, which should be obvious to anyone who considers the number of shows on talk radio. There are quite literally hundreds of conservative talk show hosts but only a handful of liberal ones. And yet the conservatives have managed to convince most Americans that the media is liberal. This spin definitely works to their advantage:
“Those who believe that our news media is run by elite liberal intellectuals using their power to corrupt America benefit from that belief; it makes them feel like the underdogs, it gives them a target for their attacks and, most importantly, it gives them a ready-made, pre-packaged excuse any time the media says something that they disagree with.” (Myhre, PG).
Myhre gives an example that shows quite clearly the stifling effect the overwhelming conservative bent of the media can have, because it is not asking the questions that should be asked. Instead of ‘pre-selected’ reporters who ask questions such as ‘Why must we attack Iraq now?’ (the form of the question gives tacit approval to the attack and questions only the timing), true liberals would be much tougher. They would want to know:
“Why did we preemptively and unilaterally strike a nation that posed no eminent [sic] threat to us or our allies and that had no ties whatsoever to Sept. 11, 2001 or the war on terrorism? Why did the United States not support a popular Iraqi uprising at the end of the first Gulf War that would have overthrown Saddam?” (Myhre, PG).
There are various reasons why it is important to study the media. This maybe for those who will pursue a career in the media, for some it may be acting, production, behind the camera, web page designing to literally countless other career options. Other people may be interested in studying the media because they want to be informed users. It would be considered virtually impossible to go through a ...
He also suggests that if we had creative journalists who were allowed to pursue independent lines of inquiry, and who were not afraid of appearing unpopular, or facing a barrage of conservative potshots, they might be asking such questions as why anyone needs to ‘give’ democracy to another country (i.e., the U.S. invading Iraq to bestow democracy at gunpoint); why all the contracts for rebuilding Iraq went to American companies with close ties to the Administration; and why American didn’t support the Iraqi uprising in 1992. Myhre’s point is that there is no such thing as a truly liberal media; rather, what we have are mass media outlets that are little better than cheerleaders for the current administration. Further, I believe it’s fair to draw the inference that truly creative people are more likely to be liberal than conservative by the very definition of those terms. Thus, the conservative media as a whole stifles the creativity of its more liberal members.
IIIInstitutional Pressure on Individuals
What is it about media institutions that stifle creativity? To understand this, we might consider what’s known as ‘corporate culture’. This is the set of rules and regulations that governs a workplace. The corporate culture isn’t found in the employees’ handbook, but is instead a sort of understanding that employees come to after they’ve been employed for some period of time. It’s the intangible quality that lets Microsoft employees know that it’s fine to work in shorts and bare feet; come in and leave when they please as long as their work is done, etc.
More formal organizations usually do specify guidelines for dress, but even so, they aren’t overly specific: often ‘appropriate business attire’ is all that’s mentioned. But individuals soon learn that that phrase is actually fairly limiting. It means classic, well-tailored clothes for both men and women; workers soon find out that unpressed blouses and unshined shoes are not appropriate. And that message is often transmitted indirectly, in the way others look at them.
Human nature, not the media, is to blame for the violence that plagues our world. Countless violent acts are blamed on our television shows, magazines, and movies when in reality they only reflect the society that created them. Violence has existed as long as people have been in contact with each other. While the media does not necessarily promote this violence, it does not openly fight it. As ...
Likewise, there is tremendous pressure put on media people to conform to the corporate culture of the paper or station. The person at the top sets the ‘tone’ of the institution, and these days he (or she) is likely to be conservative.
However, the media is driven by money even more than it is by ideology:
“It’s really not so much about a left bias or a right bias as it is about money. Media outlets depend on ratings, which in turn result in advertising dollars. … In the simplest of terms, the success of a media outlet is ultimately determined not by how well it informs the public but by how well it entertains them.
“This is a problem. The media becomes biased toward corporate interests, which are all too often tied into government interests. There are other issues, but this simple idea deserves our attention. Media outlets are not reporting the facts in an objective, academic manner. They are looking out for their own interests, period.” (Myhre, PG).
IVIndependence of Action
Do creative media people have any independence of action? Certainly there are ‘maverick’ reporters and broadcast journalists who are still willing to ask tough questions and try to get at the truth, but they seem to be drowned out by the conservative hawks and Bush cheerleaders. And those people who once were known for the feisty stands and creativity seem to have been worn down by the constant barrage of conservative criticism. CBS anchorman Dan Rather comes to mind here. He is widely known for tangling publicly with G.H.W. Bush and really pushing at him to get answers to probing questions. He has not shown the same kind of tenacity in questioning Bush Jr. The impression that many people have of him now, it’s fair to say, is of someone who’s tired, much older, and becoming part of the system instead of questioning it. When our senior reporters can no longer bring themselves to ask the tough questions, there seems to be very little hope for the rest of us. The system has taken over and there is no creativity or independence left; or what there is, is found in outlets so far from the mainstream that the stories they report and the questions they ask will never be heard by the majority of Americans. WE are left, unfortunately, with only one side of the story, and even more unfortunately, many people seem completely unaware that other opinions even exist.
"It was about the liberal biases that overwhelm straight news reporting", is what Bernard Goldberg had to say in response to his problem with CBS evening news. Is it wrong for a reporter to jazz some boring news topic up and maybe make it seem a little more interesting a problem? It can be if the reporter is tending to his bias thoughts and disregarding the objectiveness, fairness, and balance ...
Real creativity springs from a willingness to explore ideas and beliefs that are uncomfortable, outside the mainstream, and not always acceptable to society. The people who make such explorations are far more likely to be liberal than conservative, for conservatism, but its very nature, seeks to retain the status quo, or even turn the clock back. Because the media today is largely in the hands of corporations, which are inherently conservative, the creative viewpoint is being lost. Without it, our democracy is slipping away as well.
Myhre, Kyle. “The Myth of the Liberal Media.” The Badger Herald [on-line]. 29 Sep 2003. Accessed: 30 Oct. 2003. http://www.badgerherald.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/09/29/3f777bcd29a7c