Monday, July 19, 2010

The So-called 'News'

A world that works for everyone is a world that works for both Republicans and Democrats, rich & poor, etc. It doesn’t penalize some at the expense of others, rich to help the poor. It’s an idea that suggests a balance, some kind of Aristotelian ‘Golden Mean.’ That some should have 90% and the rest 10%, is clearly not a world that works for everyone.

How terrible would it be if those with 90% had to get by with less, so that those with 10% might have more? Would one less Rolls Royce or yacht or trip to the Riviera really be that painful, if it meant that other people might have one plain car, a descent place to live, meaningful work and health care? Wouldn’t innovation, creativity and productivity increase if people didn’t have to struggle so painfully? Would drug abuse and alcoholism decline if people had less pain to numb? Besides, cocaine use is most prevelant among the wealthy. Would our prisons be full – we’re #2 in the world for percentage of citizens incarcerated, if people had less pain and less struggle, less need to steal and less need to abuse drugs?

Dumbing down is relative. Dumbing down to someone with a Ph.D. is probably not dumbing down to someone with a high school diploma. To a certain extent, dumbing down has been a necessary and successful coping mechanism as American and world populations have soard and diversity has increased. A certain degree of dumbing down to increase inclusivity, keep up with the growth of numbers, the wide range of demographic and psycho-social differences, changes in technology and economics, and deal with them in a cost effective way, it has been necessary to flatten and broaden standards to a certain extent.

When I began high school in 1957, calculus and Latin were considered necessary and viewed as the standard. By the time I graduated in 1962, neither were required. Some might consider that dumbing down, I consider it sensible.

Dumbing down has had a negative impact on the news as I said last time, but to me, in some respects, it’s no worse now than it was in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Then there were only three networks and they all pretty much covered the same news stories. The only choice available back then was who you wanted to read the news, whether you preferred Walter Cronkite to Huntly and Brinkly. I always wondered who chose those stories and how that decision was made - what were the criteria, what interests were considered? Were stories chosen because they helped build a world that worked for everyone? Have you ever wondered about that, about what is considered “news” or “newsworthy”? Remember, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’? Seems like that’s still a good criteria for what’s newsworthy. A story that contributes to a world that works for everyone seems not to be newsworthy.

Now, there’s a zillion e channels for info and supposedly more choices. But despite popular opinion, too much choice becomes overwhelming, people shut down, become less open and analytical, and fall back on their prejudices. Do you see that happening? Do you see and hear more extremist nastiness and rhetoric? Are the radical fringes actually getting more airtime than they ever did, and by virtue of that, seeming more legitimate?

And who decided terrorists should now be called ‘militants’? Did you notice that change? Check out your print and e media and you’ll see more ‘militants’ talked about than terrorists. I think the change happened five years ago or so, maybe ten. Who decided on that label change and why? Obviously some powerful interests didn’t want us to think bad things about the terrorists and the countries, religions, groups and nations associated with them, so the nicer, less threatening word, ‘militants’ has replaced the nasty, scary word, ‘terrorists’. What does it take for a so called, ‘militant’ to become a terrorist? Are there any terrorists left? Who decides?

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