Friday, February 27, 2009

Self-Destruction is be Press-Induced

I always enjoy watching "Good Night, and Good Luck." I just love Ed Murrow. I love that he was so brave; he went with his intuition, and didn't let anybody talk him out of it. Whether the concern of doing the story was his personal safety or reputation, the business of CBS, fellow employees jobs, the risk of losing watchers, or pressure from politicians or media owners, Murrow was undeterred. I think Murrow is still a shining example of what journalism should be.

I wanted to stand up and clap when Murrow said, "Our history will be what we make it...historians will find evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live...We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information, and our media reflects this." (Here is the clip of the speech:

I think this statement is true through every fiber and is bloody brilliant and bold. Murrow just summed up my feelings, but I will explicate a little more on his statement. I know, as history shows, that journalists and media consumers do affect and change the present and future. But I think both groups have a limited view of this, due to the business and 'entertainment' end of the stick, which Murrow refers to. These realities were clear in the film. For example, CBS head Bill said to Murrow, "I don't want a constant stomach ache every time you take on a controversial subject."

Not only are consumers soft, so are the producers of the news, which in undeniably a reciprocal relationship, but nevertheless, the producers of news should give the people what they need, not what they want.

I am amazed that over 50 years ago, that there was concern over people sitting on their 'fat surpluses' and we still haven't fixed that problem today. People have a gag effect when they hear unpleasant things on the news. I do not think it's because they can't handle violence or sadness. People play more violent video games and watch peers do drugs than they do the news, and this should have the same devestating effect. The key is that people want insulation from news because they don't like the guilt and responsibility it puts on them. That is what the news is for. That's why the 1st Amendment protects press and speech. News allows for progress, change and opportunity. But sometimes these things are hard. The war in the Congo is so undercovered because people here, including journalists, don't want to know it's going on. Ignorance is bliss. I think Americans are nortorious for beign aloof to the issues of the world. We sit on our surpluses while the rest of the world, even some of our very own, suffers.

But I am very skeptical to think people will want to accept the guilt anytime soon. This is evident, as Murrow pointed out, by coverage of entertainment for news, and the death of media. The Rocky Mountain News just died today (for the whole story, check out El Peez's blog But there's no guilt for that or for AIDS in Africa or poverty in our own town. Because everyone assumes what Bill told Murrow, "McCarthy will self-destruct."

But our problems won't just go away. Corruption usually doesn't just pop out of the closet, wars don't stop themselves, and poverty won't bail itself out. If Murrow, along with others, wouldn't have braved the cold, McCarthy would have kept going like the Energizer Bunny. These issues have to press-induced. But if we don't get 'off our fat surpluses' these problems will continue to plague the world without knowledge and resolutions.

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