Dear AP Editor,
We will not argue that Democracy is an ideal system. Far from it. But, we have little doubt that it actually is the best society available so far.
There are many forms of government (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_forms_of_government) but few people who live in a Democracy want to get out of that, and many people who live outside want to get in.
Some of Democracy’s great goods seem to be (in no particular order):
1 – Equality before the Law
2 – Innocence unless proven guilty
3 – Freedom of speech
4 – Freedom of assembly
5 – Freedom to collect information
6 – Right to elect representative
7 – Separation of powers
8 – Protection of the weak
We like to think that a Free Press plays an important role with at least half of these points (3, 4, 5, 7) and with the sum-total. A democracy with censorship is unthinkable. Especially when the censorship is meant to protect or favor certain people or a certain group.
The above contains not much specials. But now, let’s look at a difficult case.
What would we say if there were censorship & we didn’t know that our news was curtailed?
Not restrictions on news reporting by elected officials (politicians would wish); not by the ruling class (what money can buy); not by generals (after the putsch); not by kings and emperors (by the grace of the Almighty).
Rather, bias in the news created by an invisible, elusive oligarchy, a small number of people who happen to sit at the right place to clip or steer the news that answer to no one. That would endanger the whole of democracy!
However, this might be the real situation. The international collection of news is done by a few big firms that answer to no one. They are not brought to court when perceived partial; there are no elections for their policy makers; there is no independent institute where the public can complain when it is not well served (no ombuds(wo)man); there is no body of news professionals that watches over journalists keeping up professional standards (no professional code at all); there is no ethical mechanism separating the people who pay for receiving the news from influence on the content of those news reports (no financial transparency at all; no declaration of what conflict of interests journalists may have).
Rather – news agencies can write whatever they want, completely unanswerable!!
Why would any democracy tolerate that? And for how long?
What would you say?