Censorship in the mass media


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Perhaps you’ve heard the loud *bleep* sound as someone on live television uses profanity. That’s a clear example of censorship. During the daytime, when children are watching and listening, we may agree that this form of censorship is appropriate. After 10 p.m., however, we may find it inappropriate for adult talk shows, for example. Who has the right to decide when—and what—to censor in our mass media?

In addition to overt censorship, we may find many subtle forms of censorship in the mass media. We may observe that some stories never get broadcast or published because the sponsors would not be happy, or may stop their purchasing of advertising, which threatens the mass media channel with a loss of revenue. We may see that self-censorship plays a role, and some stories never get covered at all. Finally, we may observe that employees of the mass media tend to go for the headlines, fame, and glory, and chose to ignore other important stories in our communities. Whether it is overt or covert censorship, it can impact us in ways we may not have considered.

In this Discussion, you will examine how our views of censorship have changed over time, and how culture plays a role in what is acceptable and unacceptable. You will also examine how censorship can limit and discourage social movements, and discuss ways to address this challenge.