Advertising and free speech

I’ve had this thought for a while, and it’s not a new one. However, I think we too rarely consider it. At least, we have done precious little to help the issue. The issue I refer to is the problem of advertising in modern media. There is hardly a form of media that is not tainted by the necessity of advertising to maintain profit levels, or even to stay afloat. Most startlingly, our news organizations are entirely dependent upon advertising.

It should not be necessary for me to explain how this is troubling, but I’ll summarize it like this: if our news organizations are dependent upon advertising, they are no longer reporting the truth, or at least what they believe to be truth. They are reporting what causes them to receive more attention, what causes them to increase revenue through advertising. The truth becomes fluid. Can we really know that our journalists are accurately reporting the news, if they are entirely tied to advertising revenue? Perhaps it is not to the point that they are being wholly inaccurate, but I suspect that the stories they choose to emphasize, the words they use, the tone they take, the pundits they hire, they are all significantly resultant of advertising influence. Whose free speech is being infringed upon? The advertisers’, or the news organizations? Is state-sponsored media more accurate? If there is inherent bias towards money-making articles and media, shouldn’t we aim to eliminate such an effect?

Advertising and free speech

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