Eyewitness: The Death Of Journalism

The News Building, Athens GA - The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata - Posted at The End Time:

The Fourth Estate. A phrase coined back in the mid 1700s by British politician Edmund Burke, or by Lord Brougham in 1823, depending on the source. The Three Estates in feudal times were the socio-economic divisions between classes, loosely divided by three Estates of the Clergy (First Estate), Nobility (Second Estate), and Shire Commissioners, knights or burghers (Third Estate).

The press as a Fourth Estate was never considered part of the societal structure but is deliberately outside of them all. This is because the role of the media was to be the watchdog of the other three ‘estates’ when one or more of them went awry, and to give voice to the people. It was supposed to be an advocate for the people, particularly the “voiceless.”

This fact I’m about to mention might seem strange to younger readers. Younger readers have always had the ability to publish their opinions in a variety of media, including videos, blogs, websites, book self-publishing, and more. But before the internet, a lay person’s voice was only heard when they called in to a radio show (IF their phone call was selected for airing) or if they wrote a letter to the editor of a print newspaper (IF their letter was selected for publishing.) Otherwise a lay person’s opinion, concerns, insights, or input was never “heard” because there were strong gatekeepers designed to prevent it. Most lay people in a civic society were ‘voiceless.’


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