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November 1999

Taking responsibility for the images and thoughts that are put in people's heads

In our day of full-coverage media, it really does seem as though our world has become crazy. Has it? Or has it instead always been this way? Could it be that the only difference now is the ability to give news and information - NOW - to the masses in as much dosage as our minds can absorb?
TV, radio and the Internet are the "keepers of the truth and information." They are the means that the masses are able to gulp down their daily dose of "need to know" along with their drive-through breakfast croissants and morning coffee. So, what comes of all this information? Do we become more educated as a nation? Are we able to steer and direct our lives into more productive lanes of travel towards our futures? Or, are we instead just becoming numbed to many things that used to shock us enough to actually do the right things about? Where does the news media fit into all of this?

What used to be a productive source of actual usable information has turned into a bloated whore of creative statistics, shocking visuals and contrived verbalities that are used to decieve, numb and create apathy. "If it doesn't sell advertising, it isn't news." is what should be the battlecry of the major news agencies such as the three major networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) and CNN - all with their own personal agendas and brimming pocketbooks. They will dictate what you will feel shock for - empathy for - and who you will dislike.

Example: Kosovars were being systematically run out of their homeland and killed by the Serbs. Poor Kosovars (true). During the ensuing bombing runs of Serbia, two delusioned punks decided to do a killing spree in Colorado that resulted in many unnecessary deaths (true). The news covered all the poor victims. But, during all this, did anyone bother to think of the Serbian civilians who, innocent of any bigotry, were being killed during the raids? During one of the biggest and most destructive bombings, the news instead chose to show the funerals of the dead children of Columbine. Apparently it had been deemed that their lives were far more important. More important than the Serbian victims and certainly more important than any children who die during any time of the week in far more violent school areas were shooting are a part of daily life. Where run-down neighborhoods produce desperate teens who no nothing aside from the barrell of a gun or blade of a knife. That couldn't be very important. Who cares about places where kids die every day? That isn't shocking. It can't sell the newspapers or TV ads.

Thus the whores continue their weekly, daily, hourly "shock sell-a-thon" to the masses, making us feel for the people who suffer because "it can't happen here" is the rule.

What have we to learn from the news?
Well, it appears that the news would boost a few paranoid ideals such as crime being influenced by music, film, video games and the availability of guns. Do we so quickly forget that knives and any blunt objects can do just as swift an execution? Will we be able to outlaw those? NO. Therefore, it becomes a popular issue to be able to attack what is unable to withstand. Almost as we, throughout history, have attacked any weaker race, religion or creed. Knock down what you can in order to promote your own agenda.

The news has taught us valuable information. It teaches us when our bombs are running low during the Serbian raids- never thinking that that someone else may hear that too. It teaches us how easy it is to commit terrorist acts and just how easy it is to make bombs and bring weapons on board public transportation. The news teaches us how easy it is to just not care - to commit crimes because it was so easy to commit by that "nice neighbor" next door who "could never have done that." The news agencies, in their run to make the quick buck have taught us that crime CAN pay and that guns may be the answer and that we should not love our neighbor for he may be an evil person.

When shock-rocker Marilyn Manson recently blasted the press for not taking their own responsibilities and that parents should take more interest in their children, the press blasted back calling his words pathetic rhetoric. The same recently happened in Congress when the idea of parenting and family was shot down by a fellow congressman as liberal fallicy.

When we back off of the buck and go back to some livable values, only then will the news agencies be forced to go back to doing the news and get off of their cirus acts. Yes, many may go under, but have they forgotten what their creed is? NEWS, not entertainment. Let the rest of us "opinion-mongers" make entertainment of what happens around the world. The news should stick with the facts as they stand, not as they are made to be.
My advice to the news agencies - show a little reverence and respect... and honesty.

Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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