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The Press: Hidden Persuasion or Sign of the Times?

Modern Western societies are commonly called industrial or democratic societies.  They might just as well be named mass-communication societies, for the average citizen is supposed to be informed about what goes on in and around the city whose welfare and leadership he is supposed to assume.  As the medium through which comes the data about which he is supposed to form an opinion, the press holds a key position in the functioning of these societies.

Thus it is no wonder there are many to condemn it for wielding a power of its own, as the embodiment of a new kind of spiritual power as dangerous to the freedom of the citizens as the Church’s was formerly believed to be.  For others, journalists are the new white knights of our societies: eager to defend the widows and the orphans, the poor and the oppressed—the new demigods of our godless societies.

I would like to deflate the myth, and suggest this is pouring over their heads too much honor or too much indignity, and that they appear to lord over the people only to the extent they are enslaved to those they seem to lead.

To set the record straight, I think one should be reminded of a very simple, very coarse, but actual fact: The press at large is basically nothing but a business, an industry producing those peculiar consumer goods called news and opinions just as a dairy farm produces cottage cheese and...

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