Friday, October 03, 2003

This morning's lecturette

I just sent this in to "Bloggercon," the site for a conference I wish I could attend. I just get so frustrated by the U.S. press's coverage of the rest of the world that occasionally I have to issue a proclamation!

I agree with Dave about the disturbingly high level of distortion in big-time press reportage. Add to that the binary, ideological manner in which it is organized and presented, and one wonders how anyone in the U.S. could possibly discern what is going on "out there."

I do think it's a mistake to attribute primary responsibility for this to individual reporters, since they are not the people who choose to hire, fire, print, or broadcast their work. The network brass are the people who do this, and if you want to see whose world view they don't want to feature here in the U.S., try watching the news at 3:00 am or even going to the CNN International web site. (These are just two examples.)

It appears to me that the U.S. media are so dominated by money, especially big money, that any view--no matter how ridiculous or uninformed--will get ‘play’ as long as people will pay attention. The "marketplace of ideas" is a nice phrase but is misplaced since we are not talking about something as simple and straightforward as buying and selling.

In this world, not everything is for sale. Experience is infinitely more colorful and nuanced than is the calculation of media market share. Moreover, I believe that ideas, yes-even ideologies--should exist in relation to empirical reality and to experience rather than being overlaid onto them. Tolerating the silly and pathetically limited coverage we get from so many of the major media outlets only hurts us in the end, since it keeps us ignorant.

That is one of the reasons why "newsblogging" is a good thing. Yes, some of the "newsbloggers" are just as ignorant and limited in their thinking as are the big-media outlets. However, because there are many, many voices, we have a chance to stumble on one that conveys a different view than our own…. But that in presenting things differently, imparts wisdom. When these views are "edited out" because they don't sell, we are all the poorer. Note that poverty--especially poverty of thought-- rarely brings out the best in people.

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