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Dishonest Public Opinions!Journalism in 2009

Journalism is the craft of conveying news, descriptive material and comment via a widening spectrum of media. These include newspapers, magazines, radio and television, the internet and even, more recently, the cellphone. Journalists—be they writers, editors or photographers; broadcast presenters or producers—serve as the chief purveyors of information and opinion in contemporary mass society: "News is what the consensus of journalists determines it to be." [1]

From informal beginnings in the Europe of the 18th century, stimulated by the arrival of mechanized printing—in due course by mass production and in the 20th century by electronic communications technology—today's engines of journalistic enterprise include large corporations with global reach.

The formal status of journalism has varied historically and, still varies vastly, from country to country. The modern state and hierarchical power structures in general have tended to see the unrestricted flow of information as a potential threat, and inimical to their own proper function. Hitler described the Press as a "machine for mass instruction, " ideally, a "kind of school for adults." [2] Journalism at its most vigorous, by contrast, tends to be propelled by the implications at least of the attitude epitomized by the Australian journalist John Pilger: "Secretive power loathes journalists who do their job, who push back screens, peer behind façades, lift rocks. Opprobrium from on high is their badge of honour."

Censorship, governmental restriction or even active repression of individual journalists and non-state organs of communication continue to cause, at best, intermittent friction in most countries. Few formal democracies and no authoritarian governments make provision for protection of press freedom implied by the term Fourth Estate. [3]

The rapid rise of Internet technology, in particular the advent of blogging and social networking software, further destabilize journalism as traditionally understood and its practitioners as a distinct professional category. Combined with the increasing leakage of advertising revenue from pre-existing journalistic media into the internet, the full impact of the arrival of the citizen journalist—potentially positive (proliferation having thus far proved more difficult to police) as well as negative—is yet to be seen.

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