Media Reforms

December 23, 1977

Report Outline
Discontent with Press and TV
Matters of Federal Regulation
Facilitating Access to the Media
Special Focus

Discontent with Press and TV

Emergence of Public Monitoring Groups

Like many American institutions in the last decade, the press and broadcast media have come under increasing criticism. The old debate over their rights and responsibilities has been marked recently by the appearance of hundreds of citizen-organized reform groups. Representing a broad cross-section of political and religious leanings, they are drawn together by the common goal of gaining a greater voice in setting media standards. As the number of so-called “watchdog” organizations has grown, so, it seems, has their determination. Network executives and newspaper editors “may not know it yet,” said a spokesman for a religious group, “but they're about to be hit by a revolution”.

The charge most frequently made by reform groups is that the press and commercial television networks are more concerned with profits than principles of accuracy and fairness. Particular complaints cover a wide range of alleged faults from biased news coverage in daily papers to a distorted depiction of life on television. Yet underlying nearly every aspect of the current protest is a belief that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press also implies the right of readers and viewers to help in determining how that freedom should be used.

A general dissatisfaction with news ethics, prompted partly by Nixon administration attacks on the press, has been credited with encouraging the appearance of journalistic self-criticism in many of the nation's papers as well as an increase in space allotted to letters to the editor. Under viewer pressure, a few television advertisers have even said they would withdraw their support from shows that depict violence. But, according to Charles B. Seib, ombudsman for The Washington Post, media owners “have not faced up to … the fundamental issues” being raised by angry consumers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Sep. 18, 2020  The News Media
Aug. 24, 2018  Conspiracy Theories
Jun. 09, 2017  Trust in Media
May 30, 2014  Digital Journalism
May 03, 2013  Media Bias
Apr. 26, 2013  Free Speech at Risk
Apr. 12, 2013  Combat Journalism
Nov. 2010  Press Freedom
Oct. 08, 2010  Journalism Standards in the Internet Age
Feb. 05, 2010  Press Freedom
Mar. 27, 2009  Future of Journalism Updated
Jun. 09, 2006  Blog Explosion Updated
Jan. 20, 2006  Future of Newspapers
Apr. 08, 2005  Free-Press Disputes
Oct. 15, 2004  Media Bias
Oct. 10, 2003  Media Ownership Updated
Dec. 25, 1998  Journalism Under Fire
Jun. 05, 1998  Student Journalism
Sep. 20, 1996  Civic Journalism
Sep. 23, 1994  Courts and the Media
Aug. 24, 1990  Hard Times at the Nation's Newspapers
Jan. 19, 1990  Finding Truth in the Age of ‘Infotainment’
Aug. 18, 1989  Libel Law: Finding the Right Balance
Jun. 06, 1986  Magazine Trends
Oct. 12, 1984  News Media and Presidential Campaigns
Jul. 15, 1983  State of American Newspapers
Oct. 23, 1981  High Cost of Libel
Dec. 23, 1977  Media Reforms
Mar. 11, 1977  News Media Ownership
Jun. 21, 1974  Access to the Media
Dec. 20, 1972  Newsmen's Rights
Aug. 16, 1972  Blacks in the News Media
Dec. 15, 1971  Magazine Industry Shake-Out
Jul. 18, 1969  Competing Media
Sep. 02, 1964  Politicians and the Press
Dec. 04, 1963  Libel Suits and Press Freedom
Jan. 09, 1963  Newspaper Mergers
Dec. 20, 1961  Reading Boom: Books and Magazines
Dec. 02, 1959  Privileged Communications
Apr. 25, 1956  Newsprint Deficit
May 06, 1953  Government and the Press
Sep. 21, 1948  Press and State
Sep. 05, 1947  Newsprint Supply
Mar. 26, 1947  Facsimile Newspapers
Dec. 10, 1945  World Press Freedom
May 01, 1940  New Experiments in Newspaper-Making
Nov. 04, 1933  Press Freedom Under the Recovery Program
Freedom of Information
Freedom of Speech and Press
Regulation and Legal Issues