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Tai-Chi Tu
Tai-Chi Tu

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Issue 7:

The MEDIA And A FREE Society

(The Anachronism Of A For-Profit Media)





[The “Media” is really only an expression of that “free” thought we all express in our opinions * , but it also has some more important aspects, including the creation of the viewpoint of people, on things like other people, religion, society, the economy and even government. But How it does this is also very important.

We have seen it, again and again, in every aspect of the media’s functioning: event exaggeration, event distortion, creating events that don’t even exist, warped viewpoints, distortion of the scope of events, opinion shaping, outright defamation … and on and on it goes! Today’s media has become outright propaganda, a propaganda owned and controlled by the rich and powerful to benefit themselves!

How has a group of corporate puppets, and brainless talking heads become the voice of the supposedly freest country in the world? Why does it continue in a country that speaks of rights and free speech, yet has a media totally under the control of money, and the power it has bought? Why are events no longer reported, but shaped and warped by a press totally under the control of wealthy patrons?

Where does the media fit into the workings of a free society? How is the media an extension of the government; and when does it become a way to disrupt society, and actually deprive citizens of their freedom? We will now examine some of these questions that are vital to all free societies.]




The media has become a troubling facet of today’s society. Part of this is caused by the fact that a “free press” that was created to be the mouthpiece of the people, has, in almost all cases, been gobbled up by large corporate monopolies, and, as a result, has become their master’s voice, instead of the voice of the people at large. 1

Another aspect of this is the role of emphasis and interpretation in the conveyance of the news. Given the now global makeup of national economies, the news is no longer just local, but worldwide; even nationwide news is so enormous that selection must take place, and thus emphasis is not a shared thing, but instead very individual. And emphasis, itself, very dependent on interpretation, is also a way to the distortion of just what the facts really are. The “News”, once the way to inform people as to “the state of the union” is, in many cases, actually now creating that state, instead of conveying it!

But even more important today are the new technological media advances that have sprung up, because of the Internet, social media and the so-called “cloud.” Just as in the case of the newspapers, the TV and radio, these new avenues of conveying the news are also being infiltrated and influenced by money, and the power of large conglomerates. The commercialization of the media is now also taking place in our own homes, because of smart devices, as well as in the Internet. Our once personal computers are now public 2 , and privacy is no longer a given, but an illusion. 3 This new revolution, a supposed boon to personal freedom, has instead, become a way to spread rumors, lies and defamation, and the distortion of fact, instead of the free speech of a free people.

One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, started out as a journalist and reporter, who wrote articles for publication. He tried to forge the media as the free speech of a free people, but also realized that free speech must have bounds, and not distort fact, or act as a vehicle for harm.

Today, the influence of money has distorted just what freedom is in our free societies. Money is power, and power also creates what the news actually is, and can thereby even slant the actions of government. This has clouded the facts that there are bounds to even freedom, and too much freedom, especially of the kind “bought and sold” can be as bad as no freedom at all.

The power mongers have always known this. Many of them started out as journalists and teachers, just as Mussolini did in Italy. 4 In his case, fact was distorted to fit the motives of the powerful, and the very gist of Fascism was the control of power, in any way feasible, including the exaggeration and distortion of the meaning of the news. Hitler continued this tradition in engaging the master of the Media, Dr. Gobbles, to orchestrate a great show of “shock and awe” to the people, to cover up the atrocities done to this same people. Thus propaganda was created instead of “news”, and the media became the handmaiden of whatever a tyrannical state government wanted it to be; not the conveyer of truth, but the conveyer of lies, and the distortion of reality into a State perpetuated fantasy.

Size has become an enormous factor in all of this. The sizes of states, and the enormous populations of cities and inhabited areas of the state, contribute greatly as to what the selection of articles will be that will give an overall picture of just what is the “state” of the Nation in any particular time. “State” in science, conveys the values of all the measurable variables that go to make up a particular segment of the universe under study; so in the news, a selection of news articles goes to give the reader a particular view as to just how the country as a whole is faring; add to this that the news is now global, and you realize that giving the readers a fare cross section of the state of the world at any particular time is entirely a matter of personal selection and interpretation. Because of the great influence power and money has on the human psyche, deception and stealth can often have a profound influence on how this selection is carried out, and the difference between news and propaganda can become a very narrow one, often indistinguishable at best. But, in addition, articles are written to convey a purpose or a slant that the author wishes to convey. But reading and interpreting are solely up to the reader to decide. That is why emphasis is so important. All reading is done “in context” to the knowledge within the reader’s mind. But emphasis within articles, or choice of articles, can change the interpretation the article takes on in the reader’s mind. This is done because the article only conveys a small portion of the overall picture, thus slanting the view away from the real circumstances by allowing them to be hidden; or, on the other hand, the choice of articles, the “selection” made by the publisher, may convey the impression that things are different than they actually are, by hiding all articles that give an opposing slant. Thus not only meaning can be changed, but through emphasis, facts that are, or are not, particularly important, can be dramatically emphasized or played down, thus conveying a wrong overall impression – thus the words “media hype” is often used to show these contrivances for the deceptions they are.

But then, having shown some of the wrongful methods the media can use to distort meaning, and deceive, instead of inform, the public, what are the correct ways the media should be used in a free society to not only spread and defend freedom, but protect the populace from the abuses of government?

The media originated as the watchdog of society. By letting the people know the overall state of the nation or society it served, it fulfilled the purpose of keeping its citizens informed, and up to date with the latest happenings that might affect their daily lives; in this capacity, it aided the citizens through showing them how their state acted, and brought to light deficiencies and blunders that could impact the people of that state. This is the vital and essential role of the media in today’s societies. It also served as the watchdog of government, by bringing to light the deficiencies, or illegalities that allow government to deprive citizens of their rights, or suppress freedom of thought or the basic unalienable rights granted under the Declaration of Independence to all human beings. In this capacity, it became an extension of government, keeping it honest, and beyond the corrupting influence of economic considerations.

But, in addition to this, there has come about a hurtful element of the media. With the rise of a society built on an economic hierarchy, the creation of celebrities and news worthy personalities have let loose a gossip and rumor mongering side of the media; a side that created headlines with the intent of sensationalism and publicity; all of which is quite beyond the news with which the media ordinarily deals. This “sensationalism” also can became a way of punishing personalities, and even private citizens, by carrying rumors and gossip about these people – thus defaming them. This “bullying” side of the media has greatly been intensified with the growth of the Internet and the social networking media, both of which have greatly contributed to this hurtful side of the media.

The media is a useful and needed adjunct to the free society it represents. But it must always be stringently policed by itself to keep it from becoming a harm to society, instead of the boon it can be. And the importance of this self-policing aspect cannot be minimized, because it is only through this that the proper values can be instilled in this vital organ of society to keep it independent. The media is the guardian of free speech in our land, and as such must never be coerced into the reverse. As such, it must always be an organ of the people, by that people, and for that people, like the government itself is.

Thus the for-profit ownership of media, in any and all ways, should be frowned on, because the vital function it performs is bound to the ALL of society, in the same way that government is, and a for-profit media is the beginning of the end of true freedom in all democracies. Free speech, is not a speech bought or sold, and “free” only within the bounds that money makes it free; a for-profit media is a deceit, used no different than the lobbies of government are used to surrender government to the dictates of special interests. In a free society, no special interests claim ascendancy, and history has taught us that a media under the control of special interests leads to a government under the same control, and the eventual loss of all freedom.

The media is today’s viewpoint for a society; that viewpoint represents the ALL that is society – thus the private for-profit ownership of media, is a contradiction to what freedom actually means in a free society; and a threat to any freedom whatsoever, because history has shown again and again, that the media can be that link that causes the loss of freedom to tyranny.

The media has become the way through which a class of masters has risen up in America. And it has fostered a type of freedom, which depends on wealth to legitimatize it. This is not the freedom of democracy; it is the make believe freedom of a tyranny, which has grown up in this land with the help of a bought and paid for news media. 5




FOOTNOTES

To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left



* As Benjamin Franklin says in “On Titles of Honour”:
“There is nothing in which mankind reproach themselves more than in their diversity of Opinions. Every Man sets himself above another in his own Opinion, and there are not two Men in the World whose sentiments are alike in every thing. Hence it comes to pass, that the same Passages in the Holy Scriptures or the works of the Learned, are wrested to the meanings of two opposite parties, of contrary Opinions, as if the passages they recite were like our Master Janus, looking two ways at once, or like Lawyers, who with equal Force of Argument, can plead either for the Plaintiff or Defendant.”

Note: Janus was a Roman God who had two faces pointed in opposite directions; from which probably derived the phrase “two faced”; thus politics was born!



1 Another problem is the “front” created by the supposedly “public” offerings of stocks in companies, which purport to make these companies “free” holdings of a free people; while, in reality, it is the majority control of stocks, in the hands of the wealthy, who really own and control these “publicly” owned monopolies.



2 See my essay: “When Personal no longer means Personal…”.



3 See my essay: “Issue 4: Privacy”.



4 Mussolini was a teacher and journalist, and finally editor for the Italian Journal, which his backers financed: “Il Popolo d’Italia”. Note the name used: “The Italian People”, as is usual, these megalomaniacs, always outwardly, represented the people, and, of course, his ideas were always the wishes of the people, only God help the people who didn’t agree with his self-proclaimed ideology! But that was exactly what Fascism was: the assumption of Power by a “Leader”, “il Duce” (from the Latin word for leader: Dux ).

Today, our public servants are also beginning to think of themselves as “Leaders”, instead of the “Public Servants” they are, in a free Republic; hobnobbing with celebrities, and their rich patrons, whose corporate empires are creating our National Policies, and even who will be our friends and enemies. As it was over 2000 years ago, it still is; will we ever learn?



5 Perhaps, this essay brings up more questions than it answers; in any case, that is exactly what I wrote it to do: to allow the readers to see the pitfalls and benefits of the media, and to let them find their own answers to how they think the media should be handled in a society where every citizen’s views are important!







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Tai-Chi Tu
Tai-Chi Tu

Originally Published:

January 22, 2013

Revised:

January 2, 2014