Puppet Strings

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I’m convinced that 24-hour news channels are destined to be the downfall of any sense of community or hope in our country.


It’s hard for me to say that because I’m a journalist by training. I believe journalism has a history of providing an extremely important community service. (I suddenly have a vision of Kevin Costner in The Postman. He provided a community service, too. Not the same way, though.)


What really drives me crazy about news television as we see it today, is the absolute bias presented by networks trying to convince viewers they’re unbiased and the sole communicator of accurate facts.


The reality? All but 10% — that 90% of media outlets in our country! — of our radio, television, and newspapers are controlled by six mega-hitters. (Please! Check out the infographic in the link!)


Wanna know who is controlling your flow of information?


GE, Disney, Viacom, Newscorp, Time Warner, and CBS. That’s all. The executives of these companies control all the information you get from your local news channel, your 24-hour news channel, your major publications, the radio you listen to as you go to and from work each day.


To add a little more perspective, media makes money. These companies earned enough money in 2010 to pay for the government bailout of General Motors five times.


That’s a lot of cash. That’s a small number of people trying to influence you regarding what is worth thinking about… and they’ve been choosing the issues we rally toward.


They’re ruining our ability to think critically… with our wholehearted permission.


Don’t believe me? Tell me why President Obama rescheduled the State of the Union address. He didn’t want to mess up prime time television coverage.


Reality shows like Jersey Shores and Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo have much higher ratings than a Presidential debate.


We consume clever soundbites and repeat them over and over. Proof? The Chick-fil-A fiasco earlier this month. More people have been up in arms over Dan Cathy’s “hate speech” than I’ve ever seen, willing to cherish his “sin” in stating he believes in traditionally defined marriage. (I wish people would read what he actually said. There was no mention of the word “hate.”)


Another piece of evidence of irrational reporting? Romeny and President Obama battling back and forth over “Obama-loney” and “Romney-hood.” Seriously? This is what’s supposed to get our country inspired to fight back against apathy and unemployment? Feel courageous enough to hire one extra person in the small business? This is the grand strategic plan of leadership?


Nope, not really. It’s just what networks like to cover because it fits nicely into two minute segments or 20-second vitriolic dialogues.


I had someone ask me recently how I try to stay informed of current events. The truth of the matter is I’m not as informed as I should be. “Current Events” in our household equate to things like whether we all made it to the potty without a mishap and whether the baby got his face sucked off by over-zealous kissing sisters.


I don’t watch network television unless my parents are around. I can’t stand the sensationalizing of stories designed to create fear in the viewer. There are plenty of scary things in this world, I don’t need to hear about them every 30 minutes as reported by a pretty face trying to look concerned instead of numbed to the horrors of this world.


I do follow headlines off of networks and newspapers. I try to stay on top of both liberal and conservation news outlets. (FYI – there is NO media source that doesn’t slant one way or the other.)


I also follow writers and friends on Facebook I violently disagree with politically. When I read their posts I generally get a work out with my blood pressure, but I also have a chance to see the world through their eyes.
I’m a passionate supporter of the Voltaire’s belief (as summed up by Evelyn Beatrice Hall):


“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


One last thing I recommend in relation to the election coming up is to find out what candidates actually stand for rather than what they say for the media.


I found a handy tool to do this just yesterday – check it out for yourself and let me know if you’re surprised by the result: I Side With. iSideWith is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, or interest group.


How do you manage your media bias?

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2 thoughts on “Puppet Strings

  • August 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Nice post! You and I probably disagree on some issues, but I read your blog and listen to your perspective.

    For me, I don’t think Dan Cathy used hate speech. I respect his decision to run Chick Fil-A as a Christian business. I just disagree with his company giving money to a group that hatefully attacks my friends and family who are members of the LGBT Community. I’d never ask Chick Fil-A to change their stance on marriage. However, I expect a Christian business to be cautious about giving money to groups that have the goal of negatively impacting the lives of gay teens and adults. I see every day in my job the hurt and pain that is caused when groups or individuals ridicule gay college students. While I will love my friends who choose to eat at Chick Fil-A, I will not eat there until they stop giving money to anti-LGBT groups.

    • August 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      Josh – thank you! I have really struggled with the Chick-fil-A issue. I see it similar to how you described, not “hate speech” for stating his stance (nor did he identify his belief as stated company policy – he expressed his personal opinion). I also understand the way the issue has been portrayed has stirred up even more controversy and pain than necessary. I am NOT ok with homophobia (as you know) and I’m not ok with categorizing people without regard to the complexity of humanity. We are all much more than our sexuality… or ethnicity… or jobs… or history… it’s ridiculous to see only one aspect. (And we all live in glass houses.)

      I certainly hope people “vote with their feet” and refuse to spend money with any company they philosophically disagree with – that’s the beauty of capitalism.

      Argh. I have a blog post floating in my head about this but I can’t get the ideas straight yet. This article has really touched me… maybe you’ve seen it? http://matthewpaulturner.net/f1/5-reasons-why-the-church-failed-yesterday/

      Words can be loaded and twisted so easily… I feel like I am going to have to really choose carefully before I actually get that post written!

      I appreciate your comment.


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