What is the fourth estate? According to Collegiate Journalism:
“The Fourth Estate refers directly to journalists. The term comes from the idea of the three estates of the Ancien Regime: the First Estate is the clergy, the Second the nobles and the Third the commoners. The Fourth Estate is responsible for advocating the needs of the other three estates, as well as framing issues so that each estate can understand them.” http://collegiatejournalism.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/definition-fourth-estate.html
In searching the internet about the fourth estate I came across a paper written at Harvard (hks.harvard.edu), which states the follow about the fourth estate:
“What is the role of the free press in strengthening democracy, good governance, and human development?1 Liberal theorists have long argued that the existence of an unfettered and independent press within each nation is essential in the process of democratization, by contributing towards the right of freedom of expression, thought and conscience, strengthening the responsiveness and accountability of governments to all citizens, and providing a pluralist platform and channel of political expression for a multiplicity of groups and interests.2” http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/pnorris/Acrobat/Driving%20Democracy/Chapter%208.pdf
According to several internet sources, the individual attributed with coining the term “The Forth Estate,” is Edmund Burke who after the French Revolution, and during a full meeting of the Estate General, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, ‘Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.’ http://collegiatejournalism.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/definition-fourth-estate.html
Why have I taken the time to give you all this information on the fourth estate? Because the fourth estate was deemed very important to our founding fathers, so much so, that it is mentioned in the very first Amendment to the Constitution:
“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 grievance.”
So, why did our founding fathers feel that the press and freedom of speech were so vitally important to freedom and liberty? It was John Adams who stated the following: “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” One must remember where our founding fathers came from and what they had endured prior to creating our Constitution and the “5000 year leap” and miracle that became the only Republic on the face of the earth, The United States of America. They had endured years of oppression, and damnation by a tyrannical king and government who persecuted them at every turn and opportunity. Their ability to practice their religion was forced underground, and they were no longer able to speak openly and freely, especially if their criticism were against King and country. Due to these experiences; they ensured that this newly created nation’s unalienable [civil] rights would be protected. Our founders knew through experience that the [civil] right to free speech, and the ability for the press to speak openly and freely without threat of retribution was vitally important to maintain their freedom and liberty and as such made sure that this God-given [civil] right was protected right out of the gate!
What has happened to our fourth estate in this country? No longer do they hold sacred their protected and honorable pursuit of truth and justice. They have allowed the jaws of power to entice them. No longer does the fourth estate speak openly and freely, but rather they are now bought and paid for by the highest bidder; by the Saudi’s and anyone else able to keep the press in the lifestyle they have become accustom. No longer can we look to the fourth estate as a further extension of the checks and balances on the government, as was originally intended. No today, the fourth estate is sleeping with the enemy. They have lost their ability to reason, to be objective and remain neutral. Today, you know exactly where their loyalties lie, and on which side their bread is being buttered.
There was a day, when being a Journalist meant something, most were revered, and thought highly of, due to their incredible integrity and strong ethical boundaries, journalist such as Charles Kuralt, Bob Woodward, Walter Winchell, Edward R. Murrow come to mind. These men are the things legends are made of; they sought the truth at all cost, never giving in, and never giving up; they pursued the truth and presented the facts. Today, I doubt very much whether or not most journalists even know what ethical boundaries are, much less understand how important they are in remaining neutral. It was Edward R Murrow who said: “We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.” I wonder what he would think of today’s pool of mainstream media and journalists?
I love to write; one of my favorite quotes is by Isaac Asimov; “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” I love that quote because for me that is the essence of why I love writing, I am able to think out loud on paper, and then share my thoughts with the world, good, bad, or indifferent. There was a day when I would have taken it as quite the compliment to be referred to as a “journalist!” Wow, what an accolade that would have been; now it feels almost like an insult, dirty in some way. What do you mean I’m a journalist, how dare you insult me so, is my knee jerk reaction to that. Because most of today’s mainstream journalist do not possess honor, integrity, and most definitely do not have any ethics, much less ethical boundaries. Instead they pump out the propaganda given to them by the highest bidder. Most of the mainstream journalists today are paid off to scrub their honest, truthful stories. Stories that reflect reality, are shredded, and replaced with fluff.
I remember while working toward my Social Work degree, I had a writing professor who taught part-time at the community college I was attending to get my pre-requests out-of-the-way before transferring to the University of Iowa; he worked full-time at American University. I remember him very well, because I was convinced that this man hated me because of my politics. I came to this conclusion because he did not grade my first three papers. I know, sounds a bit ridiculous now, especially in print, but there you go, I was much younger and still rather foolish.
I remember going home in tears telling my father “this professor hates me!” My father, being a wise man, encouraged me to set up a meeting with my professor and ask him why he had not graded my first three papers. So that is precisely what I did. When I met with him, and for the life of me, I cannot remember his name, but I do remember what he said to me. He said; “Ms. Lambert (my name and the time), all you are giving me is fluff, when you dig down deep, and give me what I know you are capable of, that is when I will consider grading your papers.” He was right, I was giving him fluff. I was not using my critical thinking skills; I was not digging down deep and giving him the real story. He was the toughest professor I ever had, and the best professor I ever had! This man-made me work hard, he made me stretch and grow as a writer, and I will never forget him (okay I forgot his name, but not the man)!
What today’s mainstream journalist are giving us is fluff, it is no longer hard-core, honest truthful journalism, because if they dare speak the truth, if they dare question the powers that be, they are ridiculed, ostracized, shunned and/or fired. Instead of standing up to these bullies and their propaganda, the mainstream media and journalists have become one of the biggest bullies, and the most powerful propaganda machines rivaling only that of Pravda. They have traded in their once honorable credentials and their critical thinking skills for a bit of fame and fortunate, for the ability to hob nob with the elites, the upper crust, the Kings and the King makers. And in so doing, they have turned their backs on the very thing that keeps us free of tyranny, the truth.
It was Samuel Adams who said:
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
By: A.K. Robson