Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in The Post, a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light.
Following a recent article published by the Guardian after the release of Spielberg’s movie The Post. Daniel Ellsberg, the US whistleblower celebrated in Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Post, was called “the most dangerous man in America” by the Nixon administration in the 70s. More than 40 years later, the man he helped inspire, Edward Swoden was called “the terrible traitor” by Donald Trump, as he called for Snowden’s execution.
This article along with the recent Spielberg’ s movie The Post are raising many questions about the freedom of the press.
See a previous post entitled Powers and counter-powers. There you will find many questions to be raised about the power of the press. The two previous documents (the film and the article are great to support a problematic such as Should classified elements remain secret?
Power is the ability to exercise authority and influence over others. It can be exerted in different areas such as Economy, Politics, media etc..
In relation to the notion, the topic/theme we are going to deal with/discuss will be the 4th power. The 4th power is usually defined as the power of the press and public opinion-
Problematiques/key questions we may wonder if/to….
To what extent can the press be considered as a form of power? why and to what extent?
What should the limits to convey information be?
Should classified elements remain secret? Should Wikileaks be limited?
Should limits be imposed on counter powers?
Do we have the power as citizen to shape public life?
Are empowered citizens truly powerful?
Are counter powers really effective?
Have counter powers acquired more power/influence?
Is the influence of Internet a good influence?
To what extent are counter powers growing in influence?
Can active citizens change the world?
How have social media helped empower people?
Is the power of the people greater than the people in power?
The press and public opinion are commonly nicknamed the fourth power. By extension the 4th power refers to the various means of communication which can be used as counter powers to limit the 3 other powers (which are the legislative executive and judicial powers). For many years new powers have emerged and have had a great influence on public opinion. Internet is refered to as the fifth power.
Documents to illustrate your topic :
The power of the press : The Panama papers :
One of the biggest leaks in journalistic history reveals the secretive offshore companies used to hide wealth, evade taxes and commit fraud by the world’s dictators, business tycoons and criminals.Panama Papers are documents obtained from a Panama-based offshore services provider called Mossack Fonseca. The documents were received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
WikiLeaks is an international online not-for-profit media organization founded by Australian activist Julian Assange that has published and made available to the public a huge number of classified, uncensored and highly sensitive documents from various anonymous news sources. Its website, which opened in 2006, collected a database of more than 1.2 million documents in the first year alone. This initiative to reveal and make public state secrets and confidential information received intense media coverage but also prompt state retaliation. Julian Assange is hiding….Some consider him a hero, others a villain.
The scene is set in the street before the New York Stock Exchange. In the foreground, a policeman is arresting a demonstrator who is wearing a sweater with Öccupy Wall Street¨written on it and a badge which reads ¨99%¨. The policeman is trampling over a placard with the word ¨GREED¨ barred on it . We can therefore infer that the demonstrators are protesting against greed. In addition, there are masked robbers/thieves in the background standing in front of the Stock Exchange. Each of the men is carrying a bag full of money and yet they are not being arrested. They are watching the scene and seem quite relaxed about the police presence. The cartoonist´s message is clear. The demonstrator is being arrested simply for occupying Wall Street, meanwhile the thieves, obviously representing the world of finance go unpunished.
The power of NGOs:
The NGO Greenpeace has monitered the anti-environmental practices of big business and industry for over 40 years. Every time they find evidence of wrong-doing, they try to alert public opinion any way they can.
Comments: Here we have a perfect illustration of powers and counter powers – It also reminds us of the fight of David against Goliath with the small inflatable of Greenpeace challenging the monster ship which represents big business- Obviously the dinghy can´t stop the boat but maybe the photo can. The power of money and big businesses is being confronted by the Citizen power of an NGO and the media.
HOW TO CONCLUDE
In the conclusion, dedicate a sentence or two by summarizing what you have been discussing. It´s a good idea to link your key question to another notion by opening up with a suggestion or a question.
Myths and heroes:
Does being an activist make you a hero?
Can Julian Assange be considered a hero?
Idea of progress
Power is a force connecting people,communities and nations in a constant progress of contestations and change. The growing influence of street movements, of the free press, of the internet, is also a sign of more democracy.
Spaces and exchanges
Exchanging information in a digital age has empowered citizens.
Power – powerful- powerless- to empower- empowerment-
To exercise/to possess/ to seize/ to enforce/ to grant/ to wield/ to lack…. power
To release information /to shed light on/ to discredit/
Public opinion/reliable sources/misconduct/censorship/classified/
Anglais au bac – Enjoy what you learn, learn to enjoy what you do