Does True Editorial Independence Exists at Mainstream TV Channels?


Last month, the communications and media studies department at a local university called upon me to be a speaker at an educational seminar organized by the students. One of the most poignant questions raised by the students in the course of the seminar was the one pertaining to editorial independence at mainstream TV channels. That is where the student who raised that particular question wanted to know whether, in fact, true editorial independence exists at mainstream TV channels.

I found myself at a loss on how to answer the question (as to whether true editorial independence exists at mainstream TV channels). This was due to the fact that I didn’t know how much the students knew about how the mainstream media really works. In other words, I didn’t want to give the students too complex an answer – one that they wouldn’t understand properly. Thus, the answer I gave to the question had to be one that the students could make sense of, given their level of understanding of how things work at mainstream media. All said and done, I just bluffed around — and to my pleasant surprise, the students seemed to be satisfied with what I told them!

But now that I have come to think of it, does true editorial independence really exist at mainstream TV channels? In my experience, all I can say is that some level of editorial independence does exist in mainstream TV channels. In the United States at least, the folks who run things in mainstream TV channels tend to have some editorial independence, when it comes to choosing the stories they are to focus on. But the editorial independence does tend (or seem) to be curtailed a bit, when it comes to choosing how they are to deal with the stories. In other words, the core underlying message in the stories they choose to cover has to be consistent with the ‘mainstream message’. That is the mainstream message as defined by the society they operate in – even if the said ‘mainstream message’ happens to be pure hogwash. But that is just my reading of the situation, and I am just one of the numerous media practitioners out there…

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