This year, I studied the effect of the American media on public opinion and foreign policy. The media, at its core, is a money-making industry. With the advent of 24/7 mass media broadcasting, much of news reporting has become opinion, rather than fact-based in order to simply fill time. Lacking an objective perspective on major issues, the American public is left uninformed and very polarized, which translates to large amounts of polarization in government itself. Additionally, because media syndicates are competing for viewers and/or readers, the objective is often on publishing a story first, rather than having the information be factually correct. The emphasis on speed rather than accuracy coupled with the amount of technology we have, quite literally, at our fingertips leads to the spread of misconceptions at an alarming rate. An interesting question that was posed during my presentation was, “Is the press really free, or is it just free from heavy government regulation and censorship?” I loved this question, because it really made me stop and think. Is the press, because of the heavy influence of major corporations who have a huge say in what makes it to the headlines, really free? I hope to continue to pursue this question, and many others I discovered during my research, in future Fellows projects.
The Symposium was a success. I really enjoyed the experience, and everyone I spoke to seemed engaged and genuinely interested in the topic, which is very encouraging.