16 July 2008

How Our Media Fails Us

...Our media institutions, deeply embedded in the power structures of society, are not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work. To put it another way, corporate media consolidation is a corrosive social force. It robs people of their voice in public affairs and pollutes the political culture. And it turns the debates about profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.

Our dominant media are ultimately accountable only to corporate boards whose mission is not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the whole body of our republic, but the aggrandizement of corporate executives and shareholders.

These organizations’ self-styled mandate is not to hold public and private power accountable, but to aggregate their interlocking interests. Their reward is not to help fulfill the social compact embodied in the notion of “We, the people,” but to manufacture news and information as profitable consumer commodities.

Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent at the same time that it enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests that the state protects. And nothing characterizes corporate media today more than its disdain toward the fragile nature of modern life and its indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people.

Thus speaks the unimpeachable Bill Moyers, the journalist's journalist, on what We can now laughingly call the Fourth Estate. Conceived as the ultimate counterbalance to Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers, Our media--especially the sludgepile We have in Puerto Rico--is but a self-serving, bottom-feeding,  morally-bereft herd of horse's asses braying loudly in the hopes of garnering attention. 

In the U.S. of part of A., media ownership convergence has reached "incest-based mongoloid" status. Don't take My word for it: Just peek at this chart. In Puerto Rico, media ownership is largely sheer corporations with absentee ownership, so "Money as King" is the only journalistic "standard." As for newspapers, the Ferré-Rangel cartel IS the very definition of "deeply embedded in the power structures of society, (and thus) not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work."

Moyers does have a solution: "...The fate of the cyber-commons — the future of the mobile Web and the benefits of the Internet as open architecture — is up for grabs. And the only antidote to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people at the net roots... Wherever the Internet flows — on PCs, cell phones, mobile devices and, very soon, new digital television sets — we must ensure that it remains an open and nondiscriminatory medium of expression."

Organized people. Attentive people. People that are engaged, alert, involved and committed to true progress, not self-serving fraud. Quoting Moyers again: "Democracy only works when ordinary people claim it as their own."

Unless We stand up for Ourselves, unless We choose the points where Our entire being says without reserve "This is what I believe is true and I will not let you lie to Me any longer," We will continue to lose ground to the vermin who act against Us. It is Our responsibility and We cannot--We must not--shirk it.

Let Moyers himself make it perfectly clear: "As journalism goes, so goes democracy."

The Jenius Has Quoted.


KW said...

Great post Gil. In Al Gore's latest book "An End of Reason" he places the rise of television, and it's unmatched manipulative powers, central in his theory of a stark reduction in democracy in the United States over the last half century.

He points out as critical that the idea of democracy requires a two way exchange of information (news). As the delivery of news has evolved into a predominately one way exchange, this allows for exactly what Bill Moyers is referring to.

Gore also points to the Internet (as you do) as the last battle ground for the free exchange of information. I certainly would not have the political views I have without the ability to research (on my own using the Internet) different versions of what most accept as the status quo.

But you are right, this is not a field of dreams, just because the information is available, doesn't mean citizens will seek it out. There must be a DESIRE to better understand the issues that impact us directly, and when necessary indirectly. What the media has so effectively taken from us, is exactly that, the DESIRE to know (for ourselves) the truth. By spoon feeding us the news in sound bite format, we have become obese on it's satisfying yet non-informational nature, until we don't really care about the deeper story, we've become addicted to the fast-food like qualities of modern-day journalism. But as anyone who struggles with obesity can attest, there is nothing more difficult than changing habits once you've become fat and in this case stupid.

Unknown said...

I gotta get me that Al Gore book. A totally unscientific poll on Twitter reveals that most of my followers get their news by AM radio and ENDI. Narrow information inputs means decisions based on incomplete information. Thanks to the web, I can customize my information streams, I don't care about beauty contests or death tolss, but I worry I may end like the ppl who only consume ENDI, with limited info. Like I said on MC Don Dees blog, gotta reflect more on this.

GCSchmidt said...

You know, guys, now I feel I have to read Gore's book, too. Especially when We can see how Congress and certain lobbying groups are trying to throttle Internet access through telecom regulations. Citizen-based media may become, sooner than We expect, the only viable channel for truth-at-hand, the kind that sways opinions and leads societies. I think I'll get My own server...

Unknown said...


GCSchmidt said...

Gabriel, good catch! That video of a cop pounding a cyclist, that proves he lied on his report, is similar in impact to the video of the man shot here in Humacao (by a cop; what's with these people?) I have been developing a project for "video citizen-journalists" and though it may have missed the chance to be first out of the gates, it may still come in strong. Here's looking at a future where "citizen" and "media" are on the same side.

Unknown said...

I see the value of this but I still have some reservations. Editors, we need editors. A wikipedia of news would be a disaster. Can citizens be trusted to make these judgments? Look who they elect!