How Media Watchdogs Became Industry LapdogsThe press plays an enormously important role in our society. It informs us about important events and reveals problems we might not have been aware of before. At least that's the theory. Sadly, while the free press of the past indeed served the role of watchdog and independent informer, the press we have today is far from free and unbiased. In fact, it's hard to look at today's press corps as champions for the free-flow of information. Most reporters simply aren't, anymore. They do shape society, though — just not in the way you might think. Evidence reveals a deep trend of manipulation occurring in many fields, but it appears particularly prevalent in science and medicine. One way by which industry and even government are shaping and manipulating the press is by way of press embargoes, and the so-called "close-hold embargo" in particular. Another way is through the creation of front groups, and there are now many dozens of industry front groups masquerading as independent information organizations. Virtually every major industry employs front groups to give the appearance of independent thinking and reporting on industry affairs when, in reality, they're simply spouting industry PR. As such, they are an integral part of an industry propaganda machine.