Sunday, February 10, 2013

Restoring American Democracy, Part VIII The Media

The Media are the enablers.  What was once part of the solution is part of the problem in America.  There was a time, as I understand it, that the media via newspaper, radio, and then TV sought the truth.  This truth was sought for the best intentions so that the American citizen could be well informed of the issues and therefor come to logical choices once the elections came about.  No more.  Today the media stirs the pot at every given opportunity and has fallen into a cycle where rather than reporting the news and examining the facts they have become the story itself.  They seek the controversy, and if there is none then they create one. In addition, in recent years the media seems to have a tendency to offer up more of their opinions on news rather than just news.  This perception has lead to widespread mistrust of the media.  If the people don't trust the ones informing them then they can't see the real issue at hand either for analysis or consideration.   because they don't trust that the very problem even certainly exists.   In a democracy this is a real problem and I liken it to an Eagle that can't see well.  Eventually the eagle will starve.

I certainly don't advocate any limits on journalism.   Freedom of the press is so important I can't see that there is any way to shackle the press from its bad habits without hindering its real purpose, to seek out and broadcast the truth.   The only real solution is to educate our children and young adults regarding what to look for in journalism and what do demand from the media.  How can they know what's right if they haven't been taught?  The media is only giving us what we ask for through our poor judgment regarding what is really important to ourselves our families and our communities.  If the public were to stop feeding this ravenous pig  and its piggy ways, then it would have no choice but to transition to a more agreeable animal such as the  Owl for its wisdom or the Eagle for its eye for prey.   We need a press that seeks the truth and demands the facts from our leaders.  There is no need to create a story if the people are educated enough to recognize the story is already there.  There will always be issues to understand and decisions to be made that the media can help with.  There is no need to exacerbate the situation with trumped up and fabricated stories of controversy over benign, non-issues.  The media should not be offering their opinion on any story (op-eds and editorials being an obvious exception).  Let the facts speak for themselves.

With an educated public and a new system of elections as I have suggested in this blog then the truth of the matter can be examined and the core problems that are real problems can be understood by the public and addressed by our leaders.  Case in point is the national deficit.  The $17,000,000,000,000 debt that our country has racked up is a REAL problem, not a fabricated one.  The only thing that will satisfy the logic of the free market system is a real solution to our debt situation.  The longer we wait to address it, the bigger a problem it becomes.  This fact should be the kind of thing the media focuses on and sinks their teeth into like pit bulls.  An educated American public would understand the very serious consequences to the national and global economy.  There should be outright demand for solutions to this situation rather than the  partisan bickering that we see out of Washington today.   This partisan bickering is only aggravated by the  media's fixation on controversy and the already mentioned tendency of theirs to side with either the right or the left, thus leaving doubt to the veracity of what they are telling us.  The consequence is we have a massive national debt that all 200,000,000 adults in America know is a problem, but as usual the solution is stuck in a quagmire of name calling and petty politics.  What happens?  A very real problem festers and endangers the well-being of all of us and our families and our communities and our world.

Get money out of the equation in elections and the problem will solve itself because we will have leaders who are focused on the job at hand not the funds required for the next election.  Once again, it's simply a matter of the process by which we select our leaders.  


ModeratePoli said...

I've enjoyed reading your series quite a bit, and I think you've put your finger on a lot of what is wrong in politics.

You make a strong argument that getting the money out of politics is the key point. Then lobbyist, contributors, and parties will no longer be necessary or influential.

I live in Massachusetts. Twelve years ago we had public financing of elections (due to a referendum), but the politicians scotched that after less than five years. I can see now that the problem is not public vs. private financing, but financing at all. There shouldn't be campaign apparatus at all. I'm not sure it would work--no rallies, no marketing--but it would be interesting to try.

The big fly in the ointment is the freedom to run a campaign and spend money, which has been affirmed without limit by the Supreme Court under free speech rights. So I don't think I'll ever see this vision come to pass. Sigh.

I liked this post for your clear thinking on not controlling media, but instead teaching students to have a sharp eye when reading news. I personally like and support analysis, not just a listing of facts. Educated people can read the analyses, evaluate them, and form their own opinions.

One final comment--I love your careful choice of images. The pigs in the lobbyist post were perfect!

Marshall in the Middle said...

Thanks for your kind comments, ModeratePoli !