Today journalists operate in a tight bubble of influence. Their stories, while meant to objectively inform the mass public, are often subject to many institutional forces outside of their control.
Journalism and news is a business, and so there are various market forces at play that dictate what stories get told and which are pushed out of the frame or newspaper. As a business, the network or newspaper has a bottom line and in the end they need to make sure their content is making them the money that they need. So a story about Vladimir Putin riding a horse, or a man exclaiming to “hide your kids, hide your wife,” may be what’s covered over more hard-hitting issues. Sensationalism is the big thing in the news today because it garners the most views from audience. People don’t have the time or attention span any more to read long form pieces everyday, so short stories sensationalized with videos, pictures and interviews are all the rage, constraining real investigative journalism.
The media and politics in general is very polarized today. Partisan stations are easily identifiable and partisan issues rule the news coverage. This constrains the objectivity of journalists as they are often writing for a biased or slanted organization.
Issues of ethics is another factor that constrains what journalists can publish and release. Certain information maybe be detrimental to high-powered people or organizations and therefore there may be negative repercussions for the journalist in publishing such content.
In the US we are lucky to have freedom of speech and freedom of the press however, there are still other indirect forces that are at play. Journalists are a part of a machine and a business that has to cater to their bottom lines and constituents. This definitely poses a problem for journalists who want to be the true public watchdog, for those who want to do real and traditional investigative reporting.
Presidential administrations are often as candid and open, or hostile and aggressive, with the media as they need to be depending on the present situation in the country and in the world, and also how the candidate in question handles the media. Presidential administrations are very concerned with their public image because public opinion is so very influential. If a President is good with their speaking skills and have that charisma, then they often will be more open and candid with the media. Presidents however who aren’t good at public speaking, will shy away from being as open to the media.
The Obama administration today is often said to be the “greatest enemy of press freedom.” The administration is in the middle of a world where national security is the main priority. Therefore, when the media gets wind of an issue, the administration is very tight-lipped and uncooperative. When news outlets do manage to report on issues, there are often repercussions and there is no way audiences can know what kind of pull the administration has behind the scenes. Edward Snowden is a perfect example. Was he informing the public with information we have a right to know as citizens? Or was he threatening national security and therefore deserves what happened to him and what will happen to him over the course of the next couple of years?