Today the New York Times and NewsMax agreed that Barack Obama’s is allegedly exercising undue control over the media by having “four times” the number of Press Conferences than his nearest Dem precursor, Bill Clinton (equating to FAR more than his immediate predecessor, King George).
Obama attributes his active communications, to making ensuring that his message overlooked or misconstrued. With such an aggressive agenda of issues each with its own potential ramifications, nuances, facts and details, he reasons that more communication is better than less.
In isolation, this doesn’t seem to be of extreme import but when one considers the narrow attention span of the news media/public along with the propensity of small but contentious, sensational or conspiracy theories trumping more important items/occurrences, real NEWS can easily get buried. The reaction by the Obama Administration is to try to communicate more. Press conferences are more frequent, as are Town Hall Meetings. The WH web site is extremely detailed and includes copious information on policies and issues. Yet the press cries “foul!”
The irony here is far from subtle. In G.W. Bush;s first term, the press complained about how its access was limited. Press conferences were few and far between and tightly controlled. In his second term the frequency increased, but the reigns were still tight. News outlets complained that they resembled PR events rather than true press conferences, as the White House manipulated minutia.
So what is it that the press wants…access, outreach or embedded White House reporters? It seems that no matter what they’re offered, the press isn’t satisfied. And while they get what they get, their news organizations continue to shrink operations, close foreign bureaus, merge, sell out, shut down and get gobbled up.
American Media is one sick puppy. Even so, colleges are crammed with students eager to enter the field, despite diminishing job prospects and an increase in reporter deaths worldwide.
Upon graduation, will they find meaningful careers in the consolidated corporate media? Having come of age in a corporate media environment, with ever-increasing outside pressure from groups to control, impinge upon and diminish free speech, will they burn out only to “settle” for more lucrative careers in PR? Time will tell.
What is certain is that the press’s role continues to change. Time may bring less freedom and greater resistance to speak freely in a democratic republic. Motivation to go against the status quo could be diminished and corporate parents may exercise more message control based on the mission of its parents.
Politicians who can best suss out the changes, their impact and the best way to avail themselves of current trends that work in their favor will continue to manipulate or try to control the press, overtly or covertly. And regardless of what form the interaction takes, it appears that the press will likely complain about it.