We live in a time when news is used to generate viewership and profits. Often the wide spread horrors of the world, the stories that are haphazardly reported on, are shunned because they are not the stories that readily arouse our curiosity or anger. Much of this has to do with the way the media portrays these stories to us. Consider the case of the recent viral video “Kony 2012” which called the countries’ attention, however briefly, to the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony the head of a Ugandan guerrilla group, The Lord’s Resistance Army. These atrocities have been going on for years. It was not until film maker, Jason Russell, packaged the story into a viral video that we were made aware of the situation. There was an instant outpouring of support for the organization he was representing: Invisible Children Inc..
As an information society that is continuing to develop we have to be careful not to get caught up in group-think or mob mentality. It is now easier than ever to latch on to the story of the day and become disturbed by it. The information that we now receive almost instantly every day can be a curse as well as a blessing. If we don’t take the time to make up our own minds we have lost our individuality altogether. We can be easily spoon-fed what the five major media conglomerates want us to hear and little else. Even with the advent of YouTube, the new kid on the block for spreading information, we need to be extremely wary of what we are seeing and hearing. It was only in the last century that film was first used as a propaganda tool. In 1925 the Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein cleverly edited footage to show the Russian people why they needed to overthrow the Czar. It is now easier than ever to reach the masses with similarly clever editing to rouse their sentiments against injustice and social inequity or whatever other cause is the flavor of the day!
It is now more urgent than ever that we educate ourselves and are able to call to question what we see and hear every day. A population without a filter and the ability to distinguish what is right or wrong will quickly doom democracy as a viable form of government. We will become like lemmings ready to jump off the cliff when everyone else does with no way back to reason. So Dear Reader as you consider the everyday barrage of information that we call the news be wary, skeptical and thoughtful and make sure you get the whole story!
“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” — Marshall McLuhan
“The media is too concentrated, too few people own too much. There’s really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It’s not healthy.” — Ted Turner