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The Democracy Superhighway Essay

926 words - 4 pages

The Internet has become one of the major sources of news and entertainment for a large percentage of the population of the United States of America. Communication between citizens and the platform to express opinions and ideas to the masses has never been so readily accessible. If one disagrees with the current administration he or she can post their complaint on a forum or a blog. The common man’s opinion can reach more people than ever before. To some this unchecked freedom of information on the Internet is viewed as a threat to democracy. Yet, democracy thrives on free speech and public discourse and because of this the Internet is not a threat to democracy.
There are several points that those who argue that the Internet is a threat to democracy use to validate their claim. One is the decline of professional journalism. As the Internet has grown in popularity, people have been obtaining more of their news online than from newspapers or television. This has led to a loss of jobs for journalists. The benefit of professional journalism is that the information they report is checked to ensure that it is factual before it is released to the public. Brian A. Williams states that, “Without this information, the fear is that Internet debate will continue, but it will be tethered less and less to reliable sources of the basic facts” (Williams). This is a valid argument, but it remains unseen as to whether or not professional journalism is threatened due to the Internet being a popular source of news. It appears that journalism is in a transition period from one media format to another. Many newspapers and television news channels are making the shift to online publication. One would think it logical that there will be more opportunities for professional journalism via the Internet in the future. However, this change may take some time, but as journalism evolves with the Internet the prevalence of accurate information will again become the norm.
Another reason that the Internet is seen as a threat to democracy is because it allows people to choose news and information that corresponds with their interests and opinions, and that they are rarely informed of other views on political and social issues. “Such ‘echo chambers’ reinforce the polarization of politics, as groups made up only of the ideologically like-minded tend to adopt more extreme positions than groups with a range of ideological beliefs” (Sunstein). Echo chambers can be viewed as a problem, but this type of behavior is not caused strictly by the Internet. Cable news channels and talk radio cater to people with like-minded beliefs. This confirms that many types of media promote political polarization and echo chambers. Behavior of this kind is inherent in human nature and is a societal problem that can...

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