tv William Youmans An Unlikely Audience CSPAN October 29, 2017 12:00am-1:01am EDT
mammals, we are mammals, it should work and often times they say i don't have anything better. all i can do is use rodents and hope for the best but we should be a little more modest in our expectations what can come out of those studies. talk to people who are thinking about ways to make better use of animals and how to extract meaning from these animals without assuming and crossing your fingers that what works in mice can work in human beings. .. >> >> it addresses the
successes and failures of the decade-long struggle of the never can united states to investigate the in workings of a complex news organization fighting to overcome deep obstacles foster strategic alliances to build an identity in the u.s. are giving this attempt to establish itself as a national news market action requires the villains of location and reveals they appealing to american audiences by the subsidiaries with the primary locales of production and in new york and in san francisco. his videos are centered to the of vital industries the politics and technology the
successes hinged on of us of location of where they operated with those aspects of those industries that is critical to the formation of multinational media organizations despite the rise of communication and technology that may get less relevant as an assistant professor at george washington university school of media and public affairs his research interest includes national broadcasting and politics in american studies. to be published in the "washington post" is scholarly articles of appeared in communication review the international journal of communications in and receive the best paper
award there with the cia recruitment. after the event copies of the book will be available for purchase so please grab one on your way out after the discussion we will have a q&a discussion so please wait until you get the mike before you ask questions so people on line can hear you in the on-line audience can tweet to twitter. dr. william youmans. [applause] >> thanks laura the nice introduction and hosting this is very close to my heart i was an injured here in 2002 so thanks to the
center is especially for the work to organize this i very much appreciated so this book like most that, out most authors feel the same way it is a labor of love we spend so much time putting our heart and soul into the books but then we really get to know what we are talking about to define that experience but i want to read it to give you a sense of where this study began in 2010. that was my introduction to the news network although the book is the expanded version with those new developments that have happened since then but i do want to read this to set the stage wife think it matters.
when i received my first pass granting access to enter the compound in 2010 i could not anticipate where eventually it would take me for going graduate student just beginning my dissertation research i was fascinated by i al jazeera as a distant you were an experiment that offered a perspective of the world especially by staking out an interest in the part of the world that claimed bbc or cnn it claim to be a direct challenge in global news producing news to make it available to viewers around the world but mostly those of the global north. this was an alluring promise so part of that last point that i was getting to that
paragraph that out to zero matters for how we learn what is happening in the rest of the world where we get our information and by prospective we get information i that they tried to present the alternative with that information we saw from cnn and the bbc in this was a concern not just what i had the scholars of the international communication have been talking over decades as a direct test of how strong these patterns where news is made by the most advanced and powerful countries and exported out directly traveling against that with its own brand of journalism. but of course, there are many critiques of the network but from what i
could see as a viewer it was the first network to cover all corners of the earth to get into the stories that were not told by the mainstream news networks and the country's so for me it was of barometer of our openness to learn about the rest of the world to engage in perspectives that were seen as adversarial or antagonistic so with my study of international communication i want to oppose to larger ways of thinking to give different expectations on the one hand we have heard about the power of globalization anybody could have access from any part of the world with the global economy many
voices were championing in the 1990's it is the way of the world and that network should have no problems exporting the content to those of us in the west but at the same time with the rise of internet technology that was sold as a gateway for the world in exchange of information to be at your fingertips. the information superhighway does not expect algeciras of -- al jazeera interpretation into the west but on the other hand, the world view with free-speech and on the public's fear to understand american democracy that we have a robust public sphere because of freedom of speech
and freedom of the press so they would have no problems coming to the united states so to oppose that critics may be doubtful love their possibilities to say islamophobia is a powerful force but critically they don't give that to try and that is something that is only heightened that the time when al jazeera first made its mark into the united states after september 11 in the wars with iraq so ultimately you could see how there could be pessimism but al jazeera had a more optimistic view when it decided to expand into the united states. this is a? history with what i focus on in the book i don't focus on
the arabic channel that defines the of brand in the popular associations especially around afghanistan with the rorer and iraq but al jazeera was seen as the enemy by the administration by donald rumsfeld associated it with osama bin mod n and a lot of americans felt like al jazeera was eating the enemy but at that time it was reporting from the ground what was happening and scoop to the world to report on civilian casualties or battle losses on the part of the coalition forces and gave the spokesman the interview with the osama bin modena was seen as controversial at the time
and also a critique that day aired his videotapes so on one side that perception of al jazeera for us is biased while other prospective is that al jazeera was doing responsible robust and vibrant journalism. with the bush administration had a relationship but for most americans the of brand of al jazeera was to be feared and hated by yet many were using the footage those especially with the movement that were pining for the reporting that al jazeera was doing in this was apparent for many news networks for the executive so in 2004 they began to
think how can we globalize? they launched al jazeera an english it took two years of planning is in english with the international audience and overtime gained pretty wide coverage in great britain and canada although there is a debate if al jazeera english should be made available but the u.s. never had that debate will have a central regulator to grant licenses to foreign media companies we have cable companies those are the gatekeepers in the media environment that the time when cable television was king. al jazeera english struggled to get a deal so it was kept off american television that the time as americans got their new so it took
resources to get into the country but did not have lacked they tried to figure out why they had set a hard time because that is an important market, they determined first it was a brilliant problem which are referenced earlier with the political context. but americans are not that interested in international news and that is the conventional wisdom of the of cable industry and news reporters around the world that mainstream america outlets were cutting back on international reporting because of that hostility but also a lack of interest i dunno if al jazeera english appreciated that but the problems with the cable
companies they don't answer to anybody and that is the economy so al jazeera english was is working against steep obstacles and did not find any great success so and never gained more than 5% market penetration this is after the arab spring al jazeera was totally revitalized because it scooped the world of the egypt uprising president barack obama was tuning in to learn what was happening in the region and at that time i would argue there was a shift where al jazeera looking at a terrorist planned to be the brandt behind the arab spring or closely associated
with democracy so in 2011 major transformation of the brand people were excited about al jazeera an english they were reporting al jazeera english to gain widespread cable television distribution as a result it did not even the launched a campaign people were demanding i demanded al jazeera letters more than 110,000 letters but they were not interested because they did not think this event for the popularity of the news source could translate into a television watching audience. that was disappointing but they could have been right because really they were moving on mind yet al jazeera continued to inspire as the gold standard because
that is really where has its influence so after struggling after the arab spring not translating into a greater market share some executives got the idea of launching a specific channel if it spoke to americans and they're vernacular maybe that would work. so al jazeera of tariff cuts came about so well lost that british accent with those figures in the news gave but however it was a financial failure they invested in to cable television to buy current tv from vice president gore to get those deals they got into about 50 million homes however
that was not enough to generate an audience and not on basic cable and the real problem they were not watching cable television we have moved on lines they invested heavily going after an audience that may not have them there. at the same time al jazeera had decided that mr. cleave digital channel distributed through a social media like face book or twitter a small item on the budget compared to al jazeera america also a clearly defined demographic audience millenials 18 through 35 multi-cultural so they did find that space and then had more success for
less money and that is the story of distribution and that al jazeera is not the brand names so with those cultural politics were avoided so that is the larger story of the network's efforts now you will nazi al jazeera it is all online television is not there. al jazeera is influential with that washington in the ec policy community however now what has the strong presence on facebook with social media so what about the status of america? if there is a possibility with that bias? that is a very complex question because as
i got to learning about these channels, i started to realize that the al jazeera channel was not simply a narrow but they were exported in to the u.s. market but the workplace is extremely diverse and complicated from many different identity there was no clear political agenda even though there were political debates behind the scenes and they were there were lurking in the background but to stay interested that each place was doing its work and how they influenced the identity so you could see within the workplace and much it
mattered so al jazeera english and sent al jazeera america of was in new york city so instead of thinking globally or internationally then we could think about neighborhoods or the cities of the global media outlet this is the neighborhood of al jazeera english the main office was on case street and washington d.c. influence lobbyist, to be in the bill way so it was interesting how that reflected or changed when al jazeera remained in washington d.c. as an extension in america that
the laws of cultural politics of islamophobia were off understanding the environment that it was but in new york city you can see on madison avenue it was in the heart of american television and headquarters with the cbs evening news they are all located in the neighborhood this is just the expressionistic so what does that mean? then here we are in san francisco south of the market and a new capital for the tech industry so those technology companies are media
companies but rarely with san francisco and became a destination for the silicon valley companies moving offices so to tell us how they became that so that dominant rationale is media politics through san francisco digital media if we think of industry as being expressions or symbolic, it's the industry's can bear al jazeera. and al jazeera english what i saw quite often the network tried to do justify itself through political validation to use members of the political elite to flout their approval that we are
okay and important. so it does make some sense with a lot of that's opposition was driven out of washington with the executives to go to congress and in other words, they thought that opposition ended with the bush administration so there were some defining moments to see that rationale play out as a celebration of the role of the arabic spring and nancy policy and senator mccain both of them went to this event and raving how crucial al jazeera english was a force of freedom as an
important new source this came at the same time that secretary of state clinton was speaking before the senate and said al jazeera english is crucial and that was something the network champion to say we're not a danger we are beneficial. but this ad ran in the washington post and "new york times" as a different type of endorsement in this report but even the president of the united states watches al jazeera so i'm trying to argue even washington d.c. was prejudiced you thinking this is the way into the country so one of the filters they managed without political
centrality i compare and contrast with al jazeera america to be in new york city cato brian was the president of al jazeera america said the informant tells us this is an american channel how they americanize themselves attaching themselves to the broadcasting industry so the advertising campaign that ran in times square with huge billboards. so that marketing identity sought al jazeera america as a brand but i looked at that executive for they worked previously of the executives 65% were hired directly from your city that they carry through these individuals that the highest levels of the organization if you leave -- read my book what
the distance of san francisco that the managers in geography as the factor for editorial independence. and this image and then choose skean through the workplace that was converted into a studio with those slogans they hang up the you can see one of the employees on the ground trying out the story board with the creative work you can never see that kind of imagery. land with football tables
and then a yoda session. but in terms of hiring coming exactly from the of berkeley school of journalism and with that outlook gave a good political outlook one could not say that is reflected from doha it is not environmentalism or lgbt issues with that production that is reflective. so to be more progressive with politics and a little more activist and i write about that in the book before the most part you cannot say this simply arab. it is too complex to reflect the contested world that we live-in.
so what i am getting at, there is no simple answer so is it is almost of viet -- islamophobia? but is it embraced? no because the cable industry and the politics prevented that to be so along with social media to see some opportunities for the network to gain access and then to have a specific audience. it is reaching a lot more people than other networks that could do so. so i think what i learned from al jazeera in the united states is first of all, we cannot say there was a blackout or overgeneralized but we can think how being in a particular place influences
us, how we see the world and what we think is important. . . . . is actually quite more fascinating than a lot of the analysis. i would love to hear questions that you might have and your own experiences with the channels. i know if you just hang on a second another microphone will be coming around here.
i think there's a question here and there for rove. >> just a quick reminder so everyone has a chance to ask the question. >> very quickly what was qatar's intention in setting up the financing of al-jazeera and second and i'm sorry about this but the saudis and others are asking qatar to drop al-jazeera. that's one of their demands. how like they did with that will happen? >> those are great questions. basically i started out my conclusion strangely by addressing that and it really goes back to the mid-1990s where his son who is more of a
modernist in developing those resources actually faces his father. saudi's original media blasts and he thought that maybe i need my own horse in this race and so there was that geopolitical interest in ask a trying to stoke out independents from the saudi control but at the same time there was a failed media venture that the saudis work scoring the bbc. it got close to launching this channel and there were a bunch of bbc's food trained their journalist but then they started putting editorial restrictions on it. the project fell apart but it left this pool of error journalists with no place to go. i don't know the exact details of how it came about that formed the nucleus or its launch in
1996. that geopolitics has come out in the most recent controversy has a long history to it. in many ways al-jazeera is an expression of a yearning for its own prestige and influence within the region. does that mean that al-jazeera always reports what qatar's perspective is? that's changed over the years and that's not a static question question. it's doing its own thing and putting a lot of diplomatic and nec al-jazeera being more of a mouthpiece in terms of the air of the channel. english has a more complicated history because geopolitics don't claim english is much but there's definitely this longer story that both their questions hand that. you have to understand the origins of the larger political context.
>> thank you. a very interesting presentation. i was interested in learning more about the role of the cable companies played in selecting or not selecting the network. seems to me there are quite a few channels that demands more audio than al-jazeera does. how does that work? >> that's a great question. for one thing the cable companies need a number of channels that they have as real estate so if you are for it to one channel you have to include another channel. the question would the are there some terrible channels that nobody watches that are so unpopular that al-jazeera might see an improvement on back? there is a great article that actually looked at what are the lowest rated cable channels and some of them i have never heard of with 17,000 people a night. current tv was the lowest.
think they had 25,000 when al-jazeera both the channel. this is an easy economic decision. a couple of problems which is cable companies get their revenues by a couple of. subscriptions and then there's advertising. subscriptions and there's also what comes -- what subscribers actually pay. essentially if they thought al-jazeera costs subscribers they wouldn't be able to sell advertising on programs by al-jazeera and then they take an economic hit even if they were getting a larger audience. cable companies care about ratings to the extent that it's profitable for them. their exclusion because of protesters and no one wants their ads running on this
controversial channel and then they lose money so the economic calculus is there is low reward and there's higher risk for carrying al-jazeera even if he could get a larger audience than you could for the pet food channel or whatever. no offense to anyone who watches the channel but overall these cable companies are risk-averse. the larger companies especially. first of all they don't want to anger viewers who might be offended. 5% of the population is really anti-al-jazeera and really hates them. that could be a significant risk for a cable company. >> thanks for the good talking congratulations on your book. you mentioned the millennial audience and i'm on the old and if millennials and on the cusp of it. >> yeah right. >> i was dreaming out to sarah
when it was available and then make cod off the streaming access when they lost to al-jazeera america but that was right when people unplugged their cable. i wondered if you might think that was a severe miscalculation on their part in not keeping them going for streaming at? >> that's a terrific point does it with such a bad decision on the outside. the first answer i got was the cable company contracts would restrict that because the cable companies are allowing programmers to stream too much on line and wire people are going to subscribe if they are not getting subscribers. that's one explanation and i did find some support but that was the case and not just for al-jazeera but all channels. at that time they were trying to prevent on line streaming from happening. the other thing is what about
al-jazeera english which cable companies aren't interested in caring and al-jazeera also carried content and that shouldn't be a problem for cable companies. that's why asked. they said well okay we think if we cut off the al-jazeera english stream that would push people to subscribe to cable and therefore their watch al-jazeera america. i'm not going to pay $70 a month to get all these channels just so i can get also al-jazeera america in english so i subscribe through my office in my work twice because i was researching that. it seemed a severe miscalculation i wasn't based on any kind of audience research. they didn't do a survey where they asked how many of you are willing to pay extra to watch al-jazeera america sort reflect to me a deep lack of understanding of the audience.
>> thank you for your talk. i really enjoy your position. i worked for al-jazeera english for a time and i do think to a certain big rory there is this very strong ideological factor especially with respect to islamaphobia. i know it is deterministic to think of these things in one way and maybe in your book the point you are trying to make is islamaphobia does play a part but it's not as huge. to what extent do you think this issue is ideological? i remember telling family members of mine that i was working for al-jazeera and there was a cringe moment like i don't know what it said about or when al-jazeera was suffering from
bad pr from sexual harassment in the workplace with patriarchal managers harassing women in the workplace. to a degree i think it's central to islamaphobia. >> i do write about that a lot in terms of branding and i should let you know i didn't experiment. i showed american audiences and al-jazeera report and i showed them the same report just to see how they would respond. when they saw the "cnn" report they thought it was a much more credible piece of reporting. but predicted that, i also tested for prejudiced towards arab-americans and islamaphobia and a correlated extremely highly. for me it was fairly obvious.
was driving a lot of the audience. we talk a lot about media bias and we don't tug about audience bias. this clip is one logo wanted this supposed another logo. we are bombarded by so many different options. how else can we navigate this crazy media environment where there so much coming out and to some extent not for the islamic islamic -- islamaphobia interpretations but the brands that help us make quick decisions. in the book i say this is a real thing that really matters. when i focus on the locality of the downplay it it's just a larger analysis that is one consideration one sort of obstacle. it's interesting because
oriental is something that al-jazeera is likely to fail and for the most part it was right. the other interesting thing is if you look at clash of civilizations wasting no huntington's who is opposed to orientalism clash of civilization gives us the same expectations which is those in the west will be oppositional to something that comes out of the muslim world. thank you for the question. >> hi i'm a great fan of al-jazeera.com which i watch on youtube. i was wondering if you would comment on the attacks. out of the blue will come the statement that is they are supporting terrorism or is he front page ads in the newspaper saying the same thing and you see something on the bottom.
>> a very good question. keep in mind the geopolitics of it. there are a lot of interests who are very intense on attacking qatar through the lens of al-jazeera and al-jazeera and nascents so there is a geopolitics to it. what's frustrating to me about that is the real critiques that we could make within al-jazeera's media coverage and it ridiculous -- representative gillislee critiques it because al-jazeera so detached from what's going on. and linking north korea. do we think that qatar is behind kim jong-un regime and its a desperate pr pitch. maybe for some people it works and then my guess is that works for people who are predisposed
but if you really watch al-jazeera english with an open mind and open the eyes it's very hard to detect the overt. what does it not report on? it doesn't report vigorously on the guestworker abuse. it doesn't report on the lack of civil rights or nonresidents rights within qatar. it might be a corruption scandal for example. as a viewer of al-jazeera english i would like to hold its feet to the fire with these critiques but this whole pr aspects of this work interest between the uae and egypt to me is absurd and it's so distracting. it's a distraction from the real problems facing the region and
it's too bad that so much of it gets caught up and people get killed over that battle for influence. it has more to do with egos than real interest unfortunately. but that campaign against al-jazeera's not just funded by geopolitical adversaries but there have been american conservative groups that spend a lot of money and energy attacking al-jazeera early on trying to say it's corrupted and it's a reflection of al qaeda's voice in the u.s.. none of it was based on real research to al-jazeera's content. sometimes it you can point at cherry-picking examples where al-jazeera has done something awful in terms of its coverage. they use it as a defining moment but if it was redefining it have a lot more examples. you have an example every three or four years used against the
channel network. that said i'm not an overt fan of the network. i think you should hold it responsible and we should he critical and we should point out when it's wrong. >> you asked about her experiences with al-jazeera. since i don't get cable i have never seen the station but i go to the democratic republican conventions every four years and i've seen it there. it was not there in 2016. >> interesting. >> i looked for it but it was not there. previously they had a big press box next to our other big press box with signs saying al-jazeera al-jazeera. i had gotten a couple of photographs of it. first of all at the time i didn't know there were so many different al-jazeera's.
secondly at the risk of sounding naïve what was it doing there, at least in 08 and 12 but not in 16? was at -- what was it trying to do? >> do? >> a measure about 201616 but they reported on the conventions regularly. both the republican convention the democratic national convention. what's interesting is there are several episodes in history with those controversies at the democratic national convention more so than the republican national convention. i wanted to read one that i read about on page 86. i wrote in bulkmatic and it does trace his bipartisan discomfort. the 2008 democratic national convention the party chairman howard dean was making the rounds to appear on various media. keith clemens a political observer and editor at the atlantic relayed he walked into the booth which the network shared with fox.
but quote unquote when he realized it was al-jazeera the real that affair and fairly rudely. there was another episode, think of 2012 where al-jazeera english is covering the convention i think in 2012 and they had put a banner up that some people from the democratic national convention freaked out and ordered them to take the banner down despite that they had had contractually agreed on an earlier thread i wrote in the introduction about the banner but i don't think the banner story made the cut finally. not without controversy they were doing simple reporting and i think that also gave the oppression that this is somehow something of a political validation for them. both al-jazeera english and al-jazeera would send reporters and because -- [inaudible] >> it might have been both.
at different times they would be sent separately and sometimes it seemed to be more integrated when i covered the conventions. i'm not sure which convention your report -- referencing. carrying out regular journalistic duties. al-jazeera arabic would cover the middle eastern arab speaking audience and al-jazeera -- al-jazeera english would do it for the english-speaking audience. >> thank you. i was wondering if you know if there was ever any conversation about the decision to come to the american market around changing the name of the network before going on air and why was it that they decided against that and one of the reasons i think about this is when you look at other subsidiaries of
the media network they made this decision when going into the european market for sports for example to change the al-jazeera sports network to tv and when you watch mtv now for example there's no direct way of knowing that it's connected to al-jazeera so i'm wondering what changed? why was the decision calculus so different when we know very well what kind of challenges in the american market when it comes to islamaphobia? >> because i'm really exhausted i'm going to cheat and read the paragraph but that is a great question. even russia today at some point tries to cleanse the brand. under the direction of tony berman the second managing director the team of staff began
to quote unquote america's project to examine how to attract were just in the united states. the participants brainstorm ideas about what hindered the company. they drafted a memo to raise the chief concern of the branding problem. in the united states the united states has quote unquote confused about the relationship between al-jazeera and al-jazeera english. american commentators cable executives and the public frequently pose this question as a coded need in finding out whether they would assume a similar editorial outlook implying rebellious or anti-america. disincentivized the channel that is presented a je with the contrary. petrides emphasizes independence to appear more political to american tastes it would appear apologetic and might create misperceptions igniting the content. internally this was a very sensitive issue. stressing the differences are
changing the brand from al-jazeera would the arabic channels personnel some of whom were arrested injured. they sacrificed to build the very brand some saw as a liability to market aspiration. the confusion about the relationship between arabic and english channel interfered with the distribution efforts. as a memo related quote unquote one related quote unquote one result as distributors are wary of the potential commercial npr risk of -- the channel to one point there was a and that turnrow side effect over this issue and the integrity of the brand the idea that they could revitalize the brand and people would sacrifice himself to make that ran. in other words the unity around the news brand of al-jazeera. the idea was that stands for certain kind of journalism no matter they languished to the
sports channel which is outside of the entire news company al-jazeera sports was very easily, was wasn't part of the consideration at all. it was really to protect the investment at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars i believe on exclusive broadcast rights in the u.s. and europe. and going to risk the brand they are so that's a good question. >> along the same lines he said he did an experiment. did you also test besides "cnn" and al-jazeera did you have one that was just a random acronym for example to see if it's the brand recognition for its al-jazeera specifically? >> that's a specific methods question. they didn't have the crib -- did they have the control group is what you are asking? no comment. we didn't -- i don't think we
have a control which would have been no branding i think. that was a -- and that's why didn't put in the book. why did you have to do that. that's not a good thing for hosts to do. [laughter] strike at the heart of my studies. [laughter] another question? and a softball questions? >> you asked for our impression of al-jazeera english. we have had it for a few years on park stv and became available to the hd programming and it was a great and very sip -- pleasant surprise to have a news channel that was not u.s. news oriented and to see different parts of the world so thoroughly reported reported. i saw one or two programs that
were very islam makes us -- specific in terms of documentaries are personality piece and they were very interesting as well. i was quite unhappy when it stopped being aired on the network's. >> the last point you make is important. it was aired two megahertz. megahertz as an independent company that redistributes content from international sources. al-jazeera had to deal with megahertz. megahertz had to deal with the cable company so when people say why do you watch al-jazeera english in washington d.c. i tell them on washington d.c. it only got and not the cable companies deal but as sublease sort of deal or arrangement with megahertz. the same thing with new york. when it actually got to new york it was through a third party that had to deal the cable but you are absolutely right. i think it's an important source
in washington d.c. and one thing i write about is whether the audience sizes and most of its viewership for the largest market for it was in washington d.c. purdue is in the beltway. it was in the beltway in terms of the audiences influencing this book too i think. >> i heard it was only into major media markets in the whole nation when it was on broadcast tv. >> that's right new york city and washington. buckeye cable in ohio because the owner said i like it and i'm going to show it. this is not comcast or time warner and burlington telecom which has a story about a pet i wrote a paper about it. it was actually started in part by bernie sanders when he was the mayor are links in vermont. they had a local debate about whether they local municipally funded municipally backed telecom whether they should
offer al-jazeera english. they did at a town hall where were they brought people together and they had that discussion and debate. i wrote a paper analyzing what the debate was and it was fascinating because they showed how different kinds of systems and different kinds of political economies around the media. here the public came and they start arguing about whether al-jazeera was journalism or propaganda and those who wanted to see it there were so many more of them and they said its freedom of choice let us decide. who are you to tell us what we can again see. this would have never happened with the private sector cable industry so the political economy came to determine what was available with most committees without ever giving giving -- getting a chance to see what the fuss was all about.
stand the trump administration is trying to picture us as the opposition party and people that somehow seem to want to run the government or want to run campaigns. that's not what we do. what we do is remember first of all that politicians deliver a message. that's what they are supposed to do. our job is to check out the message and find out if it's
true or false and what the impact will be on the governed. that's kind of the assignment that the founders gave us and it's also a crucial part of democracy. you can't have our form of government and less citizens have access to and apparently gathered information that they can compare to the version of events and then they decide what to do about it. if we do that we perform a crucial role. i'm not sure you could have democracy as we know it without that. i think it's important as the right to vote. ..