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US and North Korea 38th censorship parallel

By Ryan Maass
web posted May 23, 2016

Media control is an ever-present phenomenon. While consumers in the United States are not subject to the same restrictions as they would be in North Korea, their partisan ideologies impose subtler regulations.

In totalitarian regimes, systemic censorship is obvious. North Korea recently expelled a BBC correspondent and his team over their coverage of the Workers' party Congress. They were following Nobel prize laureates conducting a research trip.

In the free world, ideological partisans do the same by being intensely loyal to their favorite media outlets. It's common knowledge in America Fox News caters to conservatives, while MSNBC, the New York Times, and others are more popular with liberal audiences. Because of this, many American users actively limit their own exposure to different political perspectives.

Totalitarian Media Framing

North Korean officials questioned correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, producer Maria Byrne, and cameraman Matthew Goddard for eight hours before sending them to Beijing on a plane. A spokesman for the communist state said the journalists were "speaking very ill of the system."

From a Western perspective, this is not exactly hard to do. The single-party state recognizes almost no freedom of expression of any kind, save for those that favor the Workers Party elite.

The production team arrived safely in Beijing after their detainment.

"We're obviously very glad to be out. We're going to go and talk to our bosses now. But just relieved to be out," Wingfield-Hayes told Reuters at the airport.

As expected, the BBC persistently pushed for their reporting to continue in the country.

"We are very disappointed that our reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team have been deported from North Korea after the government took offense at material he had filed," the BBC said in a statement. "Four BBC staff, who were invited to cover the Workers Party Congress, remain in North Korea and we expect them to be allowed to continue their reporting."

Voluntary Censorship

Almost the entirety of the Western world is united in its opposition to censorship tactics like the recent example from North Korea. But the most sinister for of censorship is the kind we subject to ourselves.

Media companies in the United States compete for dominance by creating a demand for their products. Fox News understands conservatives yearn for a right-leaning perspective, and their programming is modified accordingly. CNN, MSNBC, and other left-leaning outlets do the same for their liberal consumers.

But exactly how much competition is there?

In 2012, Business Insider released a graphic showing 90% of all media - not just news or political - is controlled by just six mega-conglomerates. This includes General Electric, News Corporation, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS. This means information digested by 277 million Americans is dictated by just 232 media executives.

Media framing makes it almost impossible for Americans to find balanced news, and similar trends are also found throughout the rest of the Western world.

It is ultimately up to media viewers and readers to find the balance of news story perspectives themselves, keeping in mind every source is constrained by the use of framing. Ironically, information is easier than ever to come by, but finding the truth has never been more difficult. ESR

A "loud and proud libertarian headbanger", Ryan Maass strives to put a fresh face on capitalism and individual liberties.Read more at EpicTimes.com where this originally appeared.

 

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