Реферат: Should press de liable or not \english\

                      SHOULD PRESS BELIABLE OR NOT?

       Recent years have increased legalaccountability of producers and

    advertisers for providing SAFEproducts and RELIABLE information  to

    customers.  A  government influences      a  wide  range  of market

    operations from licensingrequirements  to  contract  actions.  That

    control announces and enforcesdetermined norms of quality.

       Each of these regulations is designed  to protect consumers from

    being hurt or CHEATED by defects inthe goods and services they buy.

    This  matter,  when  producers look  to  the law rather than to the

    market to establish and maintain newstandards of quality (of  their

    goods),  shows, that modern markethas an ability of selfregulation.

    But it also shows anotherunbelievable feature:  consumers are  both

    incapable  of  rationally assessing  risks and unaware of their own


       Companies and corporations allover the world are  systematically

    inclined  to  SHIRK  on quality andthat without the threat of legal

    liability may subject theircustomers or other people to serious  risk

    of harm from their products if itcould save money by doing so.

       According to this point of view,  for  most  goods and services,

    consumers are POWERLESS to getproducers to satisfy their demand for

    safe,  high-quality  products!  The unregulated  market lets unfair

    producers to pass on others thecosts of their mistakes.

       Legal liability is ready tocorrect  these «market  failures»  by

    creating   a  special  mechanism (feedback),  regulating  relations

    between producers and customers.Unfair producers should be punished

    and their exposure is increasing.

       One market,however, hascompletely ESCAPED the imposition of legal

    liability.  The market for politicalinformation  remains  genuinely

    ee  of  legally  imposed qualityobligations.  The electronic mass

    media are subject to more extensivegovernment regulation than  paid

    media,  but  in  their  role  as suppliers of political information,

    nothing is required  to  meet  any externally  established  quality


       In fact, those, who gather  and report  the news,  have no legal

    obligations to be competent, thorough or disinterested.  And those,

    who publish or broadcast it, have nolegal obligation to warrant its

    truthfulness,  to   guarantee  its   relevance,   to   assure   its


       The thing is: Should thepolitical information they provide fail,

    for example,  to be truthful, relevant,  or complete,  the costs of

    this  failure will not be paid bypress.  Instead they will be borne

    by the citizens.  Should theinformation intrude the privacy  of  an

    individual   or   destroy   without justification  an  individual's

    reputation — again, the cost willnot be borne by producer of it.

       This side of «activity»of  producers  of  harmful  or  defective

    information (goods,  services, etc)practically is not acknowledged.

    Producers of most goods andservices  are  considered  worlds  APART

    from  the  press in kind,  not justin degree.  Holding producers in

    ordinary markets to ever higherstandards of liability  is  seen  as

    PROCOMSUMER.   Proposing  holding the  press  to  any  standard  of

    liability for political informationis seen as  ANTIDEMOCRATIC.  The

    press is constitutionally obligatedto check on the government.

       Most of policymakers justifylegal liability for harms, caused by

    goods and services and quite limitedliability for harms,  caused by

    information. Liability for defectiveconsumer products is PREDICATED

    on a market failure.  As for«unfair» producers,  power of  possible

    profits  PREVENT  consumers  fromtranslating their true preferences

    for  safety  and  quality  into effective  demand.   So,   customer

    preferences  remain  outside  thesafety and quality decision-making

    process of producers.  Today,  it'llbe a  new  mechanism  to  force

    producers to follow customers truepreferences.

       Lack of liability  for defectiveor harmful political information

    can be predicated only on adifferent kind of supposed market failure

     — not a failure of   the market toSUPPLY the LEVEL of safety that

    customers want but its failure tosupply  the  amount  of  political

    information that society shouldhave.  Some experts say,  that free

    market has tendency to produce«too  little»  correct  information,

    especially political information.

       The thing is: politicalinformation is  a  public good and it has

    many characteristics of a publicgood. That is a product  that  many

    people  value  and  use  but  only few will pay for.  Factual(real)

    information cannot easily berestricted to direct  purchasers.  Many

    people  benefit who do not pay forit because the market cannot find

    the way to charge them.  As you can  see,  providers  of  political

    information  try to get as muchprofit as possible spreading it,  so

    they HAVE TO supply «toolittle» info. Otherwise — the market FAILS!

       Here is another reason. Someanalysts consider that the market also

    fails because of low demand. Even ifsuppliers could «earn all their

    money»,  they wouldn't providethe socially optimal amount of  info!

    Private  demand  for political infowill never be the same as social

    demand. And it will never reflectits full social value.

       If it  were  true,  that political  information  was   regularly

    underproduced  by  the  market, there  would  be  cause for serious

    concern that might well justifygenerous sibsidies — in the form  of

    freedom  from  liability  for theharms they cuase — for information

    providers.  But a proper look atmodern market shows that  producers

    of political information  have developed a wide range of strategies

    for increasing the benefits of theirefforts  to  solve  the  public

    good problem.

       The most  obvious  example  of a  spontaneously generated market

    solution to the public good problem is  ADVERTISING.  By  providing

    revenue  in  proportion  to  the relative size of the audience (for

    radio  &  TV)  or  the readership  (for  magazines  &  newspapers),

    advertisers play a SIGNIFICANT rolein the internalizing process. In

    effect,  the sale of advertising ata price that varies according to

    the   number   of   recipients  permits  information  producers  to

    appropriate the benefits ofproviding a  product  that  many  people

    value  but few would pay fordirectly.  Advertising has an effect of

    transforming information from apublic into a private good. It makes

    possible for information providersto make profits by satisfying the

    tastes of large audiences for whosedesire  to  consume  information

    they are unable to charge directly.

       Thus, customer of goods orservices and citizen of any country -

    are in the same conditions. Likecustomers — citizens may have (and

    they have)  different  preferences for political information,  but

    citizens do not value  information about  politics only because it

    contributes to their ability to voteintelligently and customers do.

    Like customers — citizens'  tastes differ  in  many ways and  that

    generate wide  variations  in  the intensity  of  their demand for

    political information.

       Since it does not appear to betrue, that  political  information

    market  is  blocked  by  an ongoing  problem  of  undersupply,  the

    conventional justification forgranting the press broad freedom from

    legal liability for the harms itcauses must give away!  It does not

    necessarily mean that the economiccase for legal sanctions has been

    made.  Although  it  seems themarket could be relied upon to supply

    «enough» information.  Sothat subsidies in the form  of  protection

    from  legal  liability  are notneeded.  Personal responsibility and

    legal accountability would be 100% if the information market  could

    internalize to producers not onlythe benefits but also the costs of

    their activities & failures.  Asfor victims,  they'll get one  more

    chance  to avoid the harms happenedfrom the production of defective


       Legal accountability for harm is desirable  in  a  market   that

    systematically  fails  to  punish «unfair»  producers for defective

    products. This kind of failureoccurs in two quite different cases:

    1) The first occasion has to do withthe market's responsiveness  to

       the  demands of consumers.  Thefailure occurs when customers are

       unable to detect defects beforepurchase or to protect themselves

       by  taking appropriateprecautions after purchase,  when they are

       unable to translate their willingness to  pay  for  nondefective

       products  into  a  demand  that some  producers will satisfy and

       profit from. It also occurs whensuppliers are unable to gain any

       competitive  ad-  vantage either  by  exposing  defects in their

       rivals' products or by toutingthe relative merits of their own.

    2) The second kind of market failureis an inability to  internalize

       harm  to bystanders — thirdparties who have no dealings with the

       producers but who just happen tobe in the  wrong  place  at  the

       wrong time when a productmalfunctions.  Even when these kinds of

       failures occur,  legalaccountability is problematic  if  it  in

       turn  entails  inevitable  error in  application or requires the

       taking  of  such  costly precautions  that  they  cover  up  all


       Conceiving of quality as  a function  of accuracy, relevance and

    comple- teness,  consumers ofpolitical information  are  not  in  a

    strong  position  when  it comes todetecting quality defects in the

    political information they receive. Revelance may  well  be  within

    their ken,  but since they are quiteunable to verify for themselves

    either the accuracy or thecompleteness of any particular account of

    political events.  In addition, since political information usually

    comes bundled  with  other entertainment  and  news  features  that

    sustain  their  loyality to particularsuppliers,  consumers are not

    inclined  to  punish  information producers  by   avoiding   future

    patronage even when they commit anoccasional gross error.

       Nevertheless, competition  amongjournalists  and  publishers  of

    political information tends tocreate  an  environment  that  is  in

    general  more  conductive  to accuracy than to lies or half-truths.

    Journalistic careers can be made by exposing  others'  errors,  and

    they  can  be  ruined  when  ajournalist is revealed to be careless

    about truth.  These realities createincentives for journalists  not

    to make mistakes.

       Moreover, the investment thatmainstream publishers and broadcas-

    ters make in their reputations forthoroughness and accuracy attests

    to the  market's perceived abilityto detect and reward suppliers of

    consistently high- qualityinformation.  Information suppliers  that

    cater  to  more  specialized  tastesplay a significant role.  These

    alternative ways of getting info areoften probe apparent  realities

    more  deeply,  interprete  events with  greater  sophistication and

    analyse data more thoroughly thanthe mainstream media are  inclined

    to do.

       In doing so, of course,  theirprincipal motivation is to satisfy

    their own customers.  But whilepursuing this goal,  they  constrain

    (even  if  they  do not completelyeliminate) the mainstream media's

    ability to portray falsehood astruth or  to  OMIT  key  facts  from

    otherwise apparently compeletepictures.

       The array  of  incentives  with respect  to at least the general

    quality of political information, with which the  market  confronts

    information  providers  creates systematic  tendencies  for them to

    provide political info that isaccurate and complete.  Or perhaps it

    would  be slightly more precise tosay that the market unfortunately

    does not appear systematically toreward producers of  falsehood  or

    half-truth information yet, according to their activities.  So that

    consumers of political informationdon't  need  the  club  of  legal

    liability  to  force  information providers  to  provide  them with

    quality information.

       The analysts ought not to be readas an asserting that the reason

    the  market for politicalinformation works well is that it provides

    just the right kind and quality ofinformation  to  each  individual

    citizen  and  that each individualcitizen has identical preferences

    for info about government.  Indeed, the premise of this argument is

    that  the  market  works becausecitizens (or customers) do not have

    identical preferences and producersexploit  that  fact  by  finding

    ways  to  cater  to and profit fromthe varying demands of a diverse

    citizenry.   An   implicit  assumption   provides   the   normative

    underpinnings for the analysis. Obviously, the full implications of

    this assumption cannot be worked outhere.

       The claim  that  the  market  in general  «works»  shouldn't  be

    understood as a claim that theinformation it generates is uniformly

    edifying and never distorted. As youknow many information producers

    pander  to the public's appetite forscandal and still others see to

    it.  These facts do not  warrant the  conclusion  that  the  market

    doesn't work.

       More significantly,  it  seems inconceivable  that any system of

    government regulation — including a  system  in  which  information

    producers  are  liable  for «defective» information — could in fact

    systematically  generate  a  flow of  political  information   that

    consistently  provided  more citizens with the quality and quantity

    that met their own needs as theythemselves defined  than  does  the

    competition in the marketplace ofideas that we presently enjoy.

       This analysis  suggests  that the  workings of the market create

    situation in which consumers ofpolitical information  do  not  need

    the  threat  of  producer liability  to  guarantee  that  they  are

    systematically getting a TRUSTWORTHYproduct.

       But consumers are not the only potential  victims  of  defective

    information and market incentivesare not always adequate to protect

    NONCONSUMER victims from the harm ofdefective information. Innocent

    bystanders,  such  as pedestrianshit by defective motorcycles,  are

    sometimes hurt by products overwhose producers they have no control

    either as consumers or competitors.Persons, who find themselves the

    unwitting subjects of defectiveinformation,  stand in an  analogous


       For example,   a   story  about sexual  assault  might  be  very

    interesting for public and mightserve well the public  interest  in

    being  informed about the policeefforts or criminal justice system.

    But the victim's name is  NOT NECESSARY  to  its  purpose  and  its

    publication both invades her privacyand broke her safety.  In cases

    like this, it's not so easy to haveconfidence in market incentives.

    The  harm  from  the  defect  is highly  concentrated on the single

    defamed or exposed individual.

       Now, it's time to ask the majorquestion:  Should  the  press  be

    permitted  to  externalizeparticularized harms?  Why should not the

    press,  like other businessentities,  be liable when defects in its

    products  cause  particularized harmto individual third parties who

    have few means of self-protection attheir disposal?

       According to the Constitution, defamed public officials or  rape

    victims  should  have  access  to massmedia  for  rebuttal.  As for

    everyday practice,  the press is notalways eager to give  space  to

    claims  that it has erred.  Thereare two objections,  why the press

    shouldn't be responsible for theharm of such  kind:  accountability

    to  a  more  demanding legalstandard would compromise its financial

    viability and undermine itsindependence.

       These objections are too SELF-SERVING  to  be  taken  completely

    seriously:  The  financial viability argument is no more persuasive

    when the product of the press harmsinnocent third parties  than  it

    is   when   other   manufacturers'  malfunctioning   products  harm

    bystanders.  As  press  doesn't  underproduce   information,   thus

    «freedom» from liabilitycan't be defended as necessary subsidy. The

    «financial viability»objection  points  toward  the  imposition  of

    liability for harm.

       The need  to  maintain  the press's independence from government

    does provide  support  for  the press's  objection  that  liability

    threatens  them  unduly.  But  it's hard  to sustain the claim that

    government's censorious hand wouldlurk behind a rule that  required

    the  press  to  compensete individuals.  It  is  not  obvious  that

    enforcing a rule that simply prohibitedpublishing the names of rape

    victims would signal the beginningof the end of our cherished press


       Asking whether the press shouldbe more legally accountable  than

    it  is now for publishing defamatoryfalsehoods about individuals or

    revealing rape victims' namestouches a number of difficult,  highly

    discussed questions. In spite of thefact, by recasting a portion of

    the debate over legal accountabilityand by  focusing  attention  on

    the   disparity   of   legal treatment  between  producers  in  the

    information  market  and  those  in other  markets  for  goods  and

    services,  it  does  seem  possible to gain some fresh and possibly

    useful insight.

       The reality seems to be that,  withrespect to  the  quality  and

    quantity   of   political  information,  free  competition  in  the

    marketplace of ideas performs admirably,  with  inventive  ways  of

    overcoming  market  failure  and with  flexibility in adapting to a

    countless consumers preferences.

       In light of this reality it oughtnot to be amiss to suggest that

    when neither the threat ofincreasing a supposed undersupply nor the

    looming shadow of governmentcensorship is implicated, the massmedia

    should be liable for egregiouserrors.


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