Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beating Off The Path

I need to get back to writing about writing stuff again. It does require a focus that I may not presently have, though. For instance, at 9:00 this morning, forty five minutes ago, I started my day with a dose of my narcotics. As far as cognitive reasoning goes, that can't be good.

Anyway, I'm one of those who finds massive partisanship in the news media, and I don't like it. I understand that in Europe, newspapers and magazines unabashedly flaunt their political bents and the readers patronize the outlets whose philosophy follows their own. What I like about this "system" is that it's completely out in the open whereas our own broadcasts and headlines are supposedly objective. Realistically they're nowhere near that and if ever we had principles they've been corrupted by Nielson ratings.

Even when I watch someone like Bill O'Reilly, who really seems to me to go out of his way, to make it a decided point, to bring people on his show who disagree with him, he's attacked because of his allegedly egotistical personality. Which has nothing to do with the news.

I end up going on 96% news blackouts where I just can't stand to hear it any more. A few months ago I started a short story where a guy devolves into a sort of news media shell shock only to revive after being confronted by a series of statements describing the public's dissatisfaction with the war, how big money is ruining baseball, etc. When it's finally revealed to him that the war quote, perfectly applicable to the situation in Iraq as it was when it was uttered during the Revolutionary War, or the baseball quote, again appropriate to modern times but issued in the twenties, he begins to come around.

It didn't appear I could make it as exciting as I would like so I shelved it. I also didn't feel up to the task of re-finding those quotes (as well as others) so that I could make the point as strongly as needs be done. One of these days...

If there's an answer for all this, indeed, if anyone other than me even wants to find one, probably has to lie in uncoupling news from advertising revenues. Make the news essentially a not for profit public service kind of operation much along the lines of--

Okay, you got me. It can't be fixed. The only answer I can come up with is to only watch news as presented by Paula Zahn or Erica Hill. I'd throw in Ashleigh Banfield as well but she wears those dark, mini-glasses, like Tina Fey, that couldn't be more distracting if they applied greasepaint mustaches under their noses. Is this a sexist point of view? Maybe. But in addition to being really good at their jobs, they can certainly distract from the biases of the headlines and the slants of the stories.

So I'm willing to take the label in order to be informed. It's the price I'll pay to be an informed citizen.


Blogger WBS said...

My political science teacher had this poster up in high school that said something to the effect that the country is being besieged by communism and and talked about the importance of defense against such ideology. It was clearly designed to make you think, "America, F--k Yeah!" But then at the end of the quote, you see that it was a speech by Adolph Hitler. It was like a creepy twilight zone thing, only real. I haven't seen the poster since (on the web, I mean) but I still remember the effect.

Corollary to that: It wasn't Mark Twain who said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." But the point I always got out of that quote was that some things never change - even if they could. The news (or NEWS) is now a corporate entertainment outlet, not a method for disseminating truth. If it was about pure truth, nobody would watch it. CSPAN - while the topics it covers are political - delivers the unedited truth of the American congress. I don't expect Lost or Heroes to lose in the ratings wars against CSPAN. Things are so bad now that the movie Network - which was supposed to be satirical and poignant now seems practically subdued and understated.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Rick Ollerman said...

And yet you'd think that if things were actually "so bad now" that the market would demand change. Oh, whoops, I used the "m" word. That may be the problem.

Is it possible that most people disagree with the way the news is presented but that all of them take it with the same grain of salt? If not a mass hysteria perhaps a mass indifference? Have we been beaten down that much?

I don't know. I'll have to keep watching Paula Zahn and Erica Hill to see if they do a story on it.

11:08 AM  

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