S. Paul Forrest
This country is an amazing place. It is filled with wonders from natural to intellectual and everyday. When I leave my house, I straighten the flag flying at my door to ensure the eagle on the end is straight and pointing to the sky. I am proud to be an American, for there is no other place on Earth that ensures genuine freedom in all its aspects. There is, however, one thing that makes me wonder about my country’s future and brings a taint to my love of this Great Land. It lies within the educational and cultural depravity enhanced and enforced by a growing mental laziness and blinding devotion to ignorance perpetuated by irresponsible journalism.
We are all, in some aspect or another, ignorant of many things. If you consider the amount of information there is to absorb in the modern world, one cannot help but be so on one level or another. I am ignorant of many sports, forensics, genetics . . . the list goes on and on. Each day in an effort to quell this I venture to understand as much as I can, because I truly believe that a day without learning is a day wasted. The problem I’ve had in this endeavor is searching for relevant data. The ability to collect and distill information has become incredibly difficult, not only because of the sheer amount of it available, but because of the questionable content which is in the available sources.
Today, as I travel down the information highway, stopping along the way from time to time to enjoy the scenery, there are roads down which I travel that are dependable for factual information, then there are those meant to lead me to wander endlessly through mazes of distraction. Like the tourist attractions of old that dot the interstate system across this country, some of the sites along the inter-global system of information are loaded with contradiction and broken promises of historical accuracy, while the vendors who lay out their faux-merchandise reap the profits.
Today’s journalism is rather similar to these roadside vendors. There are places or providers that represent integrity, while there are those others who erect plaster dinosaurs to attract sales from a walk through fake history and manipulated facts. The latter of these two seem only to serve themselves; their own political agendas and their sacred profit margins. Some of these “journalists” are in the business of deception, of manipulation, rather than the delivery of real facts to allow the viewing audience some depiction of the real world around them.
One example of the aforementioned deceptions: In July of this year, Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign because a speech she made was butchered to emphasize a seemingly racist comment. A single part of the speech was taken out of context and distorted by an over-zealous reporter trying to discredit her in order to outline racism existing within the current White House administration. This simple 30-second clip was extracted and paraded as a statement of her personal beliefs, when it was quite obviously taken out of the context of her greater message of tolerance and personal growth. It was a purposeful manipulation of the facts to support a political agenda by the conservative media.
Similarly, the “facts” of the World Trade Center destruction have been used passionately to support a Neo-conservative Tea Party agenda of National Isolationism, Neo-Liberal Constitutionalism, and, the most ridiculous of all, the conspiracy theorist’s agenda of furthering the idea of a CIA cover-up to garner support for oil seizure in the Middle East. Within this particular media manipulation also has been the use of these quasi-facts to garner support of Islam phobia to encourage the continued isolation of America for the purposes of resisting the “One Global Community” desires by some groups in this country.
I find this all so deeply troubling. News used to mean something. The anchors of old would tell the story to inform the audience. They based their reports upon the unwavering devotion to journalistic integrity and a responsibility to report the news to the general public. These people prided themselves on reporting what occurred, and allowed the listener to form their own opinions. Today, the opinions are given to the listener. Facts are manipulated to include “snippets” of fact to purposely deliver the political or cultural message of the reporting corporation. Many “News” agencies weed through clips for information to back their story and intentionally lead the audience toward one side of an issue or the other.
What happened to the media of old? I understand the depth of a system more open to the public and the psychology of our leaders, corporations, and individual citizens being open to the gauging of their viability and devotion to actually helping American citizens, but the facts should not be manipulated as weapons to this effect. The facts should be held as their own form of information. Changing a statement by taking a snippet out of the whole of a speech is lying to the public. There is no integrity to be had in this act. There is no responsibility. It makes me wonder whether the people practicing journalism are so weak in their craft that this is the only way they can succeed in a system of higher intellect. It also makes me wonder how weak we as Americans have become to blindly follow like sheep and listen to these irresponsible people.
The world today is in a very great deal of trouble. We are reaching maximum human density, an oncoming shortage of food met with genetic manipulation, political deception and a direct assault on the education system in this country. As we head toward the next decade, we NEED responsible journalism to inform us all. We can no longer stand idly by and allow the journalism of the Great Country to lie to us for their own purposes. We MUST have the facts so we can stand together prepared for the future and the problems to come. Only in this way can we come up with the right solutions. We all, in one way or another, realize where journalism has gone. The real question is: How do we get it back?