The Media and the Treaty



The mass media act as the major channel of information to the general public and to decision-makers as well. Although society and government have changed in many important respects since Jefferson’s time, his observation that a free press is the foundation of a democratic system is still appropriate. To the extent that government officials rely only on private or restricted-use channels to communicate selectively among one another, the general public becomes an irrelevant participant in the policy-making process, left only with the alternatives to approve or disapprove the actions of officials in toto at election time. When the mass media reports an event, they do not bestow on every citizen who follows the news the same power or information as the President or Senators. They give the individual information which may stimulate his interests and activity for or against a policy. In concert with other citizens, he may effectively set the appropriate boundary for a decision-maker.


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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1970

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