Monday, December 22, 2003
My dear readers,
First of all, welcome to the very first letter of a brand new website and a spunky, proudly trouble-making new press. (I mean trouble-making in the sense of "I think, therefore I'm dangerous.")
Let's tackle that well-known bogeyman: the "liberal media." First of all, how do you know that the media is liberal? You heard it from your friends? On the radio? On TV? In books? Newspapers? Magazines? Wait a minute. Except for your friends, all those things ARE the media. And if you ask your friends who believe that the media is liberal where they got that idea, I'm willing to bet you can trace it back to the media. Now why would the media criticize itself as being too liberal? Hmmmm.
If you go to a used car lot, do you automatically assume that everything the salesman tells you is true? Of course not. You don't do that because you realize that the salesman cares more about his commission than about you. That relates to the very first rule of communication: the source affects the message. Nothing involving human beings can truly be objective because no human beings are objective. We're all looking through the lenses and biases of our own personal experiences. Even if you could find a news channel that reported only facts, it wouldn't be objective because there would still be the matter of why they're reporting these certain facts and not other ones. Think about it.
When you take information in— from any source, including this one— you hopefully don't just swallow it hook, line and sinker. You consider if the source is reliable and you rely on your past experiences. You also consider what that source's motivations might be, like with the car salesman (or that lying, cheating boyfriend/girlfriend). I ran across a very simple but very handy questioning model (from H.D. Lasswell) to try to understand communications.
In what way?
With what effect?
Let's try that model on this media question.
says the media is liberal
to US citizens
with a sense of anger and unfairness,
so US citizens are angry that the media is unfairly liberal.
Why does the media do this? Why is the fun part, and here you have to call on everything you know and not be afraid to think outside of that box of What-We're-All-Supposed-To-Think. Here's what I personally come up with in response to the Why media question. (Feel free to come up with your own ideas, too, of course.)
Why? So most US citizens don't pay attention to the fact that 96% of all media in this country are now owned by five gigantic corporations. And so that US citizens will not realize that when Big Business owns all the media, they will— through the media they own-- pursue their own business interests over the interests of average citizens. That's not a "conspiracy theory"; that's just common sense. It's ever so much easier for Big Business to use Madison Avenue advertising techniques to manipulate you all if you just let them do your thinking for you. Then you won't begin to think for yourselves or fight for your own-or this nation's-- true interests: interests such as wages you can actually live on; health care; enough money to decently educate the future of our country; an environment that will endure for future generations.
And guess what? Most politicians in this country are owned by Big Business, too. How is that possible? The only way politicians can get elected is through media advertising that costs a lot of money. If a politician doesn't represent the interests of Big Business, the corporations don't give money to their campaigns. They even give money to get rid of politicians who truly represent the interests of the common people more than Big Business.
If I sound pissed off, it's because I am. I believe this country has been stolen from "we, the people." I don't pretend to be objective. The most dangerous people are the ones who either pretend to be objective or really believe that they are.
If you're interested, check out some available books and resources on the topic. (Below.) Feel free to join the discussion, as well.
Take Back the Media
Media Reform Information Center
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy
By Robert Waterman McChesney
Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Agaisnt Corporate Media
By John Nichols, et al
Think and Be Dangerous,