Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Selective Perception & Media Blackouts

This morning, I got charged up by WBAI's airing of speech clips from Free Press Media Reform Conference. It was held in Memphis, Tennessee and featured Bill Moyer, Danny Glover, Geena Davis, Jane Fonda, Amy Goodman, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Helen Thompson. I heard snatches of Jane Fonda, Bill Moyer and Jesse Jackson. The underlining theme was media consolidation and the monopoly of the Fourth Estate, which is media. I came down from the high of 3,500 people converging on Memphis to strategize media reform when I heard that the conference took place January 7, 2007. Hey, that's four months ago. What happened since that time and how did I miss that event notice? The good thing is that I'll receive a DVD of the preceedings very soon.

Jane Fonda and Geena Davis. After years of film-making and publicity and paparazzi, these women wiped the stardust out of their eyes to talk about images and control of information and knowledge. Jane began her evolution in the 70's; Geena Davis, probably in the 90's. Danny Glover seems to have been a conscious actor from the birth of his acting career. This wasn't much of leap given he's a tall black man who doesn't receive a huge bank of film projects to consider.

Though four months passed, it gives me pause to consider what are the options on cable or broadcast. Bill Moyer remarked that PBS and NPR get pressured to reduce programming that provides critical review of social, economic and politic issues. Without naming any programs, "Frontline" came to mind with its weekly look at critical issues that go unaired in many other media outlets.

If you don't know about something, you don't have a position and without a position or knowledge you have no reason to take action. Two cases in point: the continued aftershock of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. How many Americans know that approximately 700,000 people have died since the start of this war in 2001? PBS evening news does a silent roll call of US service people that have been killed in the line of duty, thank goodness. Those number, however, don't come close to 700,000. The Vietnam War was last war that American would have such an extensive and extended view of the facts of war.

As for Hurricane Katrina, 200,000 can't return to New Orleans. This 200,000 does not take into account the rest of the affected Gulf Coast. What can Americans do about it. Nothing because Americans don't know about it. I guess I'm bit of a Mary Poppins. She believed in taking the good with the bad--"...just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down..." Americans can stomach the medicine, don't you agree?

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