|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Government Media Social media|
The government and the media are two institutions that have had tense relations more so in the US. The government has the primary duty of ensuring that the security of the nation is secured while the press is meant to ensure that it informs the public of what is happening in their country like exposing government secrets. Watts (2013) outlines that publication of government secrets has led to the government to attempt to introduce laws that trim the freedom of the press. These two institutions have cultures which are contrary to each other. That is, on the one hand, the media is supposed to be the watchdog when it comes to the activities of the state and informs the public of what is happening. On the other hand, in the interest of national security, the government has secrets which it does not want the public to know about hence it hides them, and it will do what is necessary even taking people to court to prevent them from publishing the secrets of the government.
Independence of the media is an essential aspect of any liberal democracy. In a liberal democracy, the goal of a free press is to continually scrutinize the government and give people correct and truthful information so that they can act on it accordingly. However, there have been concerns relating to the rise of media empires, whereby people have been able to focus large amounts of media assets and used them to influence political opinions. As a result, people from any the political spectrum can deliver a convincing political message on behalf or against other people via their media empires (Watts, 2013). Such activities are very dangerous-hence the need for there to be legislation that forces broadcast media to take a neutral position.
The post-film about Katharine Graham, the 1st female publisher of a prominent USA newspaper by The Washington Post depicted the relationship between the government and the media. Through the assistance of Ben Bradlee, Graham was able to expose a massive cover-up by the American government secrets which span three decades and four U.S. presidents (Herbert, McCrisken, & Wroe, 2019). The state attempted to prevent the publication of the documents through seeking a court order, but the courts declined and allowed the press to continue publishing the documents citing that the government failed to show how the publication of the reports would compromise the security of America. The post-film portrays the culture of the government as that of a controlling institution. This culture is being represented via the government seeking a court order to stop the publication of the sensitive information. This was an attempt by the state of trying to interfere with the independence/freedom of the press.
Moreover, the state was trying to prevent the media from carrying out its duty of being a public watchdog over the activities of the government and informing the public on what is happening in their country. The film also portrays the culture of the media as that of an informative institution. One of the primary functions of the media is to become a source of information about what is happening both locally and internationally. Through the publication of the Pentagon papers by various media houses, the public became aware of what happened some three decades ago. This shows that the public wants/desires to be informed of what is happening in their country
One of the cultures of the media is to act as a public watchdog that informs the pubic of everything that is happening. This culture was portrayed through the exposure of the Pentagon papers and which revolved around cover-up by the state of within three decades. Katharine, a female publisher, took it upon herself to investigate and publish this massive cover-up. Soon, other newspapers become aware of the cover-up and also published the report. This, in turn, led to the public to be informed of the cover-up. This aspect depicts the media as the eyes and ears of the people. If the media hears anything fishy within the government, it will take the initiative to expose the secrets. This aspect also brings out the element of the media as an independent institution that is free from the control of the state.
It is the duty and the culture of the government to ensure that it ensures the security of all. One of the methods it uses to ensure security is maintained is to hide sensitive information and seek court orders to stop the publication of sensitive information. It's based on this that various regimes in the US chose to cover up their actions and even went to court to hinder the publication of specific sensitive information. This aspect depicts the government as an institution with a lot of 'dirty' secrets, and it would do whatever is possible to hide its secrets provided that it would ensure that the security of the nation is guaranteed.
The internet, as well as the online media, has a significant impact on the government. There is a need for government agencies and elected officials to rethink how they use social media, mainly because there are considerable repercussions to be had when they get something wrong or do it poorly. Social media is a tool that has gradually gotten so powerful that it can potentially make or destroy careers. And with many officials who are noted technically inclined to turn to social media to communicate directly with their constituents and other parties, the need for a plan that helps them figure out what they want to get out of these platforms is critical (Sobaci, 2015). A general rule to remember for such officials is that they ought to treat their social media shares like they are press statements. This paper examines how the President and Vice President of the United States made use of their social media accounts for two weeks starting April 1 to April 12 this year with a view to seeing what message or agenda they convey to their followers, and whether these are consistent with whatever is on their official government pages.
After wishing his Twitter followers Happy Easter on the first of April, President Trump has addressed his immigration agenda by claiming that the country has dumb immigration laws, sanctioned by the Democrats that need toughening up. He insisted that the wall must be built to secure the borders and thus minimize the drugs and crime influx in the country. The President also criticized Fake News Networks and labeled media sites such as CNN and NBC as fake. The other agenda he tackled was that of the economy. Here, the President made claims that giant retailer Amazon, along with other online retailers, was driving the full tax paying offline stores and retailers off the market even as they cost the United States Post Office massive amounts of cash for delivering goods for them. He also stated that China had long instituted unfair trade practices against the United States.
Trump's statements on issues related to immigration are consistent with his view as published in the White House official pages that a border wall is essential and that the swift removal of unlawful entrants will restore the rule of law and order. And as President Trump claimed that job growth was only getting stronger into his term, he backed up his claims against China by publishing a statement on its unfair trade practices on the White House website (Herbert, McCrisken, & Wroe, 2019). As for his well-publicized rants about the mainstream media being Fake News, no mention is made of it in the official pages that cover the April 1 to 14 period.
As for Vice President Mike Pence, there is little social media activity on his Twitter account, with the only things mentioned in the period under observation being support for a specific campaigning Republican. On Facebook, he uses his page to thank and congratulate various people who have played a key role in driving the conservative agenda and to update his followers on some of the trips he takes to advance foreign policy interests that have to do with security and freedom.
These leaders need to use their outreach tools responsibly due to the nature of the positions that they hold. As social media enables them to communicate directly to the people, they must realize that the electorate is bound to trust what they say on these platforms as accurate as it comes straight from the horse's mouth. They must, therefore, address their messages carefully and for all Americans, while the electorate, on its part, should learn to verify what is posted by looking at mainstream news media and verified official accounts.
Herbert, J., McCrisken, T., & Wroe, A. (2019). Trump, the Media, and the Public. The Ordinary Presidency of Donald J. Trump, 103-133. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-04943-0_5
Sobaci, M. Z. (2015). Social Media and Local Governments: Theory and Practice. Basingstoke, England: Springer.
Watts, D. (2013). The mass media. Understanding the US/UK government and politics. doi:10.7765/9781847790897.00013
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