About the USA - News and Media
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
- First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, contained in the Bill of Rights, ratified December 15, 1791
The average American spends about eight hours a day with the print and electronic media - at home, at work, and traveling by car. This includes watching television, listening to radio, and reading the newspaper.
The central role of information in American society harks back to a fundamental belief held by the framers of the U.S. Constitution: that a well-informed people is the strongest guardian of its own liberties. The framers embodied that in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which provides in part that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Thus, the press plays a vital role as a guardian of U.S. democracy, functioning as a watchdog over government actions and calling attention to official misdeeds and violations of individual rights.
The U.S. media today is frequently known as the Fourth Estate, suggesting that the press shares equal stature with the three branches of government created by the Constitution (the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches).
U.S. media have come a long way since the first newspaper was published in Boston, Massachusetts in 1690. Within 50 years, magazines began appearing in several major American cities. The advent of commercial radio at the beginning of the 20th century ended print's monopoly in America, giving nationwide and, later, global audiences unprecedented access to live audio programs. Television, an even more powerful medium, entered the scene shortly after World War II. Defying predictions of their decline, the other media have diversified to confront television's dominant appeal. Satellite technology has allowed U.S. television networks (notably cable) to reach overseas audiences around the globe. Fueled by the advance of digital technology and the growing convergence of the computer, telephone and cable television, interactive media represent the principal trend at the beginning of the 21st century .
The print and electronic media in the United States offer many news and entertainment options, and are a pervasive element in American society. According to a recent survey by Mediamark Research, 98% of Americans have a television, 84% percent listen to radio regularly, and 79% percent are newspaper readers. Meanwhile, 45% of the American population has access to the Internet, while for certain demographic groups that percentage is close to 70%. That means that Americans have a vast array of information sources, none of them controlled by the government.
Economics plays a major role in shaping the information served up to the U.S. public in newspapers, on radio and television, and now on the Internet. While nonprofit and advocacy organizations have significant voices, most of the public's primary sources of information -- major urban newspapers, weekly news magazines, and the broadcast and cable networks -- are in business to make money. Media and communications (with revenues of over $242 billion), are one of America's largest business groups. In 2000, adult consumers of media information and amusement products spent over $675 a person. Advertisers spent an additional $215 billion to bring their products to the attention of the American public. The media are a great economic engine in American society, providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of technicians, writers, artists, performers, and intellectuals. It wields enormous influence as it shapes attitudes and beliefs.
(Abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.)
The following useful links are provided for the user's convenience. The inclusion of non-U.S. government sites should not be construed as endorsing the views contained therein.
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
- Media in the United States - http://infousa.state.gov/media/media_overview.html
- Seeking Free & Responsible Media - http://infousa.state.gov/media/pressfreedom/docs/ijge0203.pdf (PDF 256KB)
- Foreign Press Centers - Useful Web Links for Journalists - http://fpc.state.gov/c4694.htm
- Links to Individual Magazines and Journals - http://infousa.state.gov/media/media_links.html#mags
- Newspaper Association of America - http://www.naa.org/
- Society of Professional Journalists - http://www.spj.org/
- National Press Club - http://press.org/
- American Journalism Review - http://ajr.org/
- Committee to Protect Journalists - http://www.cpj.org/
- Best American Journalism of the 20th Century - http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0777379.html
- The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press - an independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues http://people-press.org/
- Building Free and Independent Media
- A Responsible Press Office in the Digital Age
- A Responsible Press Office: An Insider's Guide (English version) http://infousa.state.gov/media/journalism/pressoffice.html
- A Responsible Press Office: An Insider's Guide (PDF 471 KB) (Croatian version)
News and Newspapers
- NewsCentral (links to over 1,000 newspapers in the U.S., arranged by states) http://www.all-links.com/newscentral/northamerica/unitedstates.html
- Newspaper Association of America (A Statistical Summary of the Newspaper Industry) http://www.naa.org/info/facts00/
- Links to Individual Newspapers and Newswires http://infousa.state.gov/media/media_links.html
- Links to Broadcast Media - http://infousa.state.gov/media/media_links.html#broadcast
- RadioLocator (links to over 10,000 radio station web pages and over 2,500 audio streams from radio stations in the U.S. and around the world
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