Right of access: a modest proposal

Bagdikian, Ben H.
May 1969
Columbia Journalism Review;Spring1969, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p10
This article discusses the right of each person in a free society to have a fair chance of being heard and it inevitably means access to the mass media. There is a parallel principle, the right of the speaker, including the one who happens to own a printing press or broadcasting transmitter, or say what he wants no matter what his enemies think about it. News organizations have acted as though these principles were contradictory, but they are not. Both lie beneath the growing problem of inequity in access to the public. Equality of access is an impossibility except under special conditions. But the inequality lies in the bias, sometimes unconscious and sometimes deliberate, in favor of those who have bureaucratic, financial or political power, and those with skill in dealing with large organizations. One result has been that until very recently U.S. journalism did not recognize social change until there was social explosion. If this deficiency is not remedied on a large scale each new generation will have to turn to violence to get attention and produce change. Insensitivity among mass media operators exists, on a large scale, usually by omission. Some simply do not see themselves as having responsibility for maintaining the local marketplace of ideas.


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