Media Freedom

The US enjoys a free and diverse press, although aggressive political partisanship, the consolidation of media ownership and other financial troubles have threatened this freedom as traditional institutions struggle to stay afloat and adapt to an increasingly digital media landscape. Local and national newsrooms have shrunk, and reporters are overstretched , diminishing the quality of American journalism.

Laws against obscenity, indecency and profanity set out and enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restrict what content can appear on free-to-air broadcasting.


Most states have shield laws that protect journalists from revealing their sources, and the Obama administration is proposing a federal shield law, But the government’s prosecution of whistleblowers has raised real concern. The accessing of Associated Press reporters’ phone records in pursuit of leaks has also been a source of alarm.

The Obama administration has been criticised for its aggressive pursuit of whistleblowers and journalists and demands for source information in cases of government secrecy. While the president did sign a Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act into law in late 2012, the behaviour of the authorities when confronted with leaks has been heavy handed.

Meanwhile, physical attacks by police against journalists and bloggers covering the Occupy movements hurt the US’ ranking in several press freedom indices in 2012.

Digital Freedom


About 75 percent of the population is online, but affordable high-speed broadband remains elusive. Copyright legislation and surveillance currently represent some of the greatest threats to digital freedom of expression.


The latest Google Transparency report shows that the US requests more user data than any other country and issues the second most court orders for content removal behind Brazil. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) criminalises the circumvention of copyright controls online without regard for how users intend to use the tools. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) were shelved in 2012 following highly publicised website blackout campaigns by internet activists and web companies, but intellectual property rights remain a concern with secret negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on-going. Efforts are also underway to reform the 1986 Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA), which allows the government to access private emails older than 180 days without warrant.

PATRIOT Act provisions and the fact that US telecommunications companies comply with millions of government requests for user data have given Americans cause to self censor their electronic communications. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)[1], which passed through the House of Representatives twice but stalled in the Senate, would have compounded the threat of self censorship by granting companies greater immunity to share private user data with secretive government agencies. In June, it was revealed that the government has been secretly collecting the call records of Verizon customers under the PATRIOT Act and that the National Security Agency can access the servers of Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft and others to monitor users’ video calls, search histories, live chats, and emails. Concern is also growing over how domestic drones used for surveillance will affect individuals’ privacy] and how American web companies are in a sense privatising censorship through terms of service that restrict freedom of expression.

Artistic Freedom


The First Amendment protects artistic freedom in the US, but fear of offence still motivates censorship and self-censorship. Nudity, pornography, obscenity and religious sensitivity are among the most common reasons visual art is censored from public space in the US. Censorship typically occurs at the gallery level where art is removed in response to controversy rather than through legal mandate. Donor funding can also dictate the type and content of art displayed. A US university removed a controversial climate change sculpture without warning in May 2012 when it upset a major donor from the energy industry. High sensitivity to political correctness and concerns about marketability sometimes lead artists to self-censor what they produce, and donor funding often dictates the type and content of art that is displayed. A growing trend of online crowdsourced funding for the arts is helping to overcome this barrier for specific projects.

Controversial books are still removed from or kept out of local public libraries across the country — in March 2013, for example, the Chicago public schools authority demanded the graphic novel Persepolis be removed from its classrooms — and music is regularly stripped of violent references and profanity at stores and on radio due to private decisions or Federal Communications Commission mandates.

Increasingly strict copyright laws keep much art out of the public domain despite relatively liberal fair use provisions. Due to copyright extensions, which now extend to 70 years after the creator’s death, many creative works originally due to enter the public domain this year will not do so until 2052.


Censorship in America is the act of altering, adjusting, editing, or banning of any or all media resulting from the presumption that its content is perceived to be objectionable, incendiary, illicit, or immoral by the Federal Government of the United States. The ideology, methodology, and measures or determination regarding media subject to Censorship in America varies; in conjunction to the precepts expressed within the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, unless the nature of the media in question is in direct violation of American legislation, its Censorship in America will typically undergo judicial review.

Media Censorship in America
The nature of the term ‘media’ is subject to substantial variation – the classification of which may be reliant on time period, applicable legislation, and the technological means enacted for its respective disbursement. The following are some examples of varying natures of media with regard to both their respective structures, as well as their subjection to prospective Censorship in America:

Public Media Censorship in America

A Public Media Broadcast is defined as the transmission of media on the part of a single individual – or group – via electronic recipients called receivers within wired circuitry responsible for delivering the picture to individual televisions and radios. A radio broadcast is transmitted over amplitude or frequency modulated airwaves, while a television broadcast is transmitted over basic cable or specified television stations.
Public Broadcast
A Public Broadcast is defined as a transmission of media through the usage of transceivers and/or receivers belonging to the public and regulated by the Federal Government. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governmental branch that is responsible for the regulation of content expressed through media disseminated through the use of publically-owned airwaves; the regulations and stipulations undertaken by the FCC are responsible for the oversight of Censorship in America.

Private Broadcast

A Private Broadcast is a method of Broadcasting in which the media being transmitted is neither sanctioned, nor regulated by a governmental agency. A vast array means for private broadcast exist with regard to subscription-based media channels and avenues, cable television, Internet Satellite Radio, and private websites on the Internet.Guidelines for Censorship in America

Violence and Censorship in America

Media involving the promotion or undertaking of criminal activity, threat, malice, or the promotion of illegal and damaging ideas with the intent to cause harm; although there exists a vast amount debate with regards to the depiction of criminal activity for entertainment purposes in contrast to those media outlets that are deemed to glorify that same activity, the law enforcement agencies are responsible for the regulation – and classification – of such media.

Activities Sexual in Nature and Censorship in America

Media including pornographic images depicting minors, children, or individuals below the age of 18 is considered to be a very serious offense; this criminal activity is not only applicable to those parties responsible for the release of this nature of media, but also to those individuals in ownership of that material:


More generally, the term is also used any time people in positions of power try to prevent facts or ideas embarrassing to them from coming to light. This can be done by editorial boards of periodicals and journals, by restricting what their writers can actually research or write about, or by restricting and censoring what they do write, preventing it from being published. This can be done for many reasons, including due to fairly legitimate issues of style, or topics that editors just don’t think are right for their publication. This type of censorship is not (and probably should not be) illegal; to force a journal or web site to promote ideas the owners and editors find anathema would be a violation of free speech. Actual censorship, however, is usually done much more maliciously and threats (financial, legal or physical) can be made to prevent something going to publication.

One pernicious result of this “right to not publish” can result in a form of censorship wherein all “major” outlets of information are owned by large corporations, which tend to have certain interests in common, and might, as a group, make it very hard to find information critical of those interests.

Censorship can also come from a government level, and it is this that is usually considered the worst kind of censorship. While individual corporations or private ventures have a right to control the information they host, and their readers are welcome to go elsewhere for their information, governments have a hold over everybody without exception. This leads to a population at large being denied information and more often than not, forcibly fed incorrect information. It should be noted that, while citizens in most Western countries are safe against government censorship (for the most part, at least), other places have almost completely state-run media where literally no alternative exists for the public to access their information. In recent years,