Everybody sort of suspects "The Media" isn't telling it like it really is, but do we have any proof?
Often when I read editorials in a paper I wonder how the only opinion written there was the one I read-- usually the one that I feel doesn't represent myself or the majority of Americans. We also have the feeling that the opinions expressed there are ones that help to enforce the status quo... is this valid?
An astute American scholar once noted that while Third World nations rely on terrorism and fear to control their populations, "democracies" utilize propaganda to control their populations. Think about that... it is nearly impossible (expect in the case of policing areas) to use terror to control citizens in America, so they use a form of legal persuasion: mind control.
No, I'm not talking about straight-out brainwashing or mad-scientist stuff; I'm referring to directing people's attention towards things that are of peripheral significance, that is outside the realm of their control. Then keep them occupied with other meaningless things that can't improve someone's life, like talk shows, sports, sitcoms, stories about lost kittens, cops/911/crap shows, and "music" television. Don't take this as a slam if you enjoy any of the things I just mentioned... I only want you to think about all the things that could be in the media that could help you to improve your life, your community, your nation, and also report on all the things wrong with it, explaining the real reasons!!
When I get my Newsweek magazine every week I page through it real fast looking for something that'll enlighten me to the world. I might as well just go play in traffic... This week (09.23.98) Newsweek was nice enough to feature (again... for the n-th week in a row) 20 some pages on Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, and other inane irrelevancies. I don't want to talk about that issue, except to say: "Hey Newsweek!! I suppose there ain't SHIT happening in America, huh?!?" It really disgusts me. There are so many things going on that need to be reported, that don't. Even hardcore CNN fans are missing so much information and news that happens every day. Yet, they stick to the Beltway Consensus, just like everyone else. In fact, nearly everyone follows in the footsteps of CNN (as far as TV network shows go), and the print industry follows the lead of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and sometimes the LA Times. Give me a break.
Don't get me wrong, though. Good journalism happens all the time, in the most unlikely of places. The only thing that is missing is more consistency, more dedication to the objective of even-reporting (and complete reporting), and much, much more of it. My hometown paper will occasionally have stupendous editorials (usually they are on local issues, sometimes state or national), but they still run a George Will column every week.
My hometown paper, the St. Cloud Times, does have a corporate agenda, as does every single large paper in the US, as does every news broadcast, or weekly news magazine. They are all private, corporate businesses. Businesses, whether they want to admit it in the same breath as their pleas of telling "the whole truth" or not, have the goal of making profit. They are profit-oriented machines. Just like General Motors, Disney, Microsoft, RJ Reynolds-Nabisco, and Lockheed-Martin. This means that their first and foremost goal is to attract advertisers. Then they look for stories that they think will render them the most viewers or readers, and thus advertisers. See the pitiful cycle?
Of course, if people stopped watching crappy news programs (which have about 5 minutes total news), and switched to alternate medias-- which actually explored issues and stories that matter-- they'd be flush out of advertisers, and might have to revert to making good, quality news programs.
The St. Cloud Times is owned by Gannett, which in turn owns many other newspapers in. In fact, the majority of all American media outlets (newspapers, magazines, radio, books, and movies) are held in the hands of approximately 20 corporations. Scared yet? There can easily be top down censorship in these organizations, if that is desired. They have no obligation to tell it like it is, since they are only profit-generating machines! They will never challenge the harm that corporations do every single day to our environment, because they are those corporations. They shy away from reporting the really damaging things that Congress gets by with because they are part of the corporate infrastructure which funds Senators, Representatives, and Presidents (I just want to off-handedly quote the great writer Douglas Adams, "Anyone powerful enough to get themselves made president, should on no account be allowed to do the job.")
And the Mass Media supports power. Sure, it lets things like juicy scandals into the public view. But, only because it sells, and they think people want to watch it. Well, if public opinion polls mean anything, PEOPLE DON'T want it! You never read about real scandalous things that go on everyday, like legislation for Internet censorship, universal I.D. cards, banning international chemical weapons inspections of our arsenals, increasing penalties for consensual crimes like drug use, and dozens of other absurdities that citizens would be very upset over-- if they knew they were happening and got clear, unbiased info on them! Yet, the media plays along wonderfully with the whole charade, never calling any leveled attention to the most crucial of issues.
Then war comes, and the media happily trumpets along with the drum-beaters and flag-wavers. Did any newspaper carry any criticism over Reagan's bombing of a large civilian center in Tripoli (in response to "terrorism")? Or to Clinton's bombing of Baghdad years after the Gulf War over an alleged assassination attempt on Bush (for which the "evidence" never amounted to anything)? Or when he did the same thing to the Sudan and Afghanistan over other alleged "terrorist connections"? If there was criticism of these actions in papers, I must've missed them. Every article I read contained nothing but glorious support for the "strong, direct, and steady" actions of the free-world's leading democracy. "American terrorism" was never mentioned. But, isn't it an act of terrorism to bomb a civilian population, like with Sudan (regardless of the inane "argument" of the target being a chemical weapons plant) or Tripoli? When people die by the hands of others (especially civilian lives) that is an act of terrorism. It doesn't matter if it is a "terrorist group" or a "terrorist nations" (democratic or totalitarian).
Thanks to American media, US belligerence comes off as the spanking of kids-- hard to do, yet necessary.
After looking closer at the media one can begin to see that they will shy away from certain subjects. Go look for yourself. It's the only way to learn to become even-handed with reading the "news". Question what they say and why they say it. Then go hunt out the information's sources on your own. Also look for opinions that disagree, then compare the arguments. It might be confusing sometimes, but it's a lot better than being blind.