What is the media? In this discourse media is defined as mass communication or communicating with and for the masses. This is done mainly by newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet. A significant part of the "mass media" is what is commonly referred to as the "news media."
What is the government? Abraham Lincoln described the nature of the government in the Gettysburg Address in these words, "government of the people, by the people and for the people." In a word government is law. Law is basic and may be sublime, especially when it is based on natural law or derived from the Higher Law. Law is about relationships and the rights of individuals...that one person's rights end where another person's rights begin.
The Federal Government preempts state rights, notwithstanding, the all too common rhetoric about the pseudo sovereignty of state rights. However, the Federal Government permits states rights when that seems to be politically expedient. It does not permit a state to declare war on a foreign nation. The Federal Government reserves that right for herself. The Federal Government is composed of three branches of government. They are mandated in the U. S. Constitution as Congress which is authorized to make laws, the Supreme Court which is authorize to interpret or declare the meaning of laws, and the President who is responsible for enforcing the laws. These three branches of government are characterized by "separation of powers" and "checks and balances" that are designed to prevent any branch of the government from abusing its powers.
This writer does not intend to give a detail discussion of the government but rather to show that the media is not less powerful than the three branches of government and the important role it plays in a democratic society. The media is people communicating...with their government. Oftentimes the media provides the people with information about their government and the things that the government should be concerned about that otherwise would not be available to them or their government. The media is a conduit for people to listen to and communicate with their governmental officials, inform, praise and criticize them.
As indicated earlier, even though the media is not included in the U. S . Constitution as a branch of the government, noticeably, the First Amendment to the Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." This is to say the media is free, no less than the people. "Who are the people if not their words?" Pause and think for a moment about the things that would not be known, the abusers who would not be brought to justice and the services that would not be provided for "we the people" if it were not for the media.
While it is true sometimes the media, like the three branches of government, commit unacceptable acts, and like the branches of government can be checked by them, it is vital for the health of society. There are times when the media prevents the three branches of government from operating singularly or in complicity to violate the U. S. Constitution and hence betray the trust of the people they are sworn to represent.
Americans, this is our challenge: support the media. The media has rights that include her right to access informnation - doings and misdoings - of the Congress, President, and the Supreme Court. This includes the right to televise proceedings of the Supreme Court. Of all governmental entities the highest court in the land should have nothing to hide and, moreover, be eager to set an example of esteeming transparency in conducitng the people's business for lower courts and people in general to follow.
Let "we the people" esteem the media, no less than we do the three branches of government, and demand that she has an equal standing with them and full access to the information about their government that people have a right to know. How else will the people know except the media tells them? How else will governmental officials hear the people except the media let them know?
Will you join with me and declare: "The Media is the Fourth Branch of Government?" Take this step to move "we the people" toward a more perfect union.
Copyright 2008 by Uriah J. Fields
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