On a theme of ‘being lived’, another question arises. Is the media to be believed?
In the UK, there is a lot of press attention being given to one particular party at the moment, one which is pro-British and which some take to be racist in intent. I am not considering whether it is or is not. Parties, like any other organisation, are made up of people and if they all thought the same they wouldn’t need committees, so the occasional nutcase will always come out and say something stupid, or contrary to a popular ‘ism’. Again, I do not want to get into that – it’s too dangerous.
What I DO intend to get into is this – can we trust the media, and if so, to what extent?
The Press have done some wonderful things – but.
They expose corruption that we should know about, but they sensationalise misconduct that we really shouldn’t give a toss about. They keep us informed about the facts, but they also twist and exaggerate using adverbs and adjectives which are theirs, and are not necessarily designed to support the facts as much as they are intended to sell newspapers. They expose the ‘surveillance society’ and then take pictures of holidaying ‘celebs’ and focus on their cellulite, or camp outside people’s houses harassing them into submission. (All the time demanding private investigators be licenced for doing far less, but that’s my focus group and I’ll say no more!)
I am amazed by how often, at 6am in the morning, I buy a newspaper that tells me that I (aka ‘the public’) am outraged by something that I don’t know about, yet. So – is that true? Is the public ‘outraged’, or do they just want us to be so we’ll buy their rag?
The BBC is now in the habit of having one journalist report a headline, only to turn to another reporter to interview them – giving us the impression that the latter is an authority on the matter, as opposed to another journalists who has a bit more information than us but is otherwise just as uninformed as us. That air of authority warps our opinions because like it or not, it comes across as authoritative opinion – which it patently is not.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the papers reported “just the facts, ma’am”? No emotive language, no sensationalist descriptive terminology – just tell what is true and leave us to decide whether we care or not. Perhaps then we’d start living in a world where the opinion of the press was no longer relevant, or that there was at least a clear distinction between the facts and the fluff?
I say all this because whether we like it or not, if we are not properly proactive about deciding whether what we hear is accurate, or not, we will allow ourselves to be influenced by things which are INTENDED BY OTHERS to influence us, not things that SHOULD influence us.
Which will really annoy the advertisers!
(Have you noticed how, despite the media’s insistence that their channels are about entertainment and information – all the adverts seem to come on at the same time so you can’t avoid them by channel hopping? )
Of course it depends on the country you reside in. Often newspapers and channels rely much on the advertising. That would also mean that these specific media channels are dependent on these sources, which gives these firms sometimes a possibility to filter the news that are being broadcast. Naturally the media is also dependent on the viewers/readers/listeners. If nobody wants to hear about Syria, they will broadcast about Ukraine instead. Then there are those other limitations: time, money… What I’m basically saying here is that one should always be familiar with the media source: do they have a political standpoint? who is it funded by? which areas do they focus on? Once you are aware of the paper’s/channel’s background, it is easier to know where to focus your skepticism.