Monday, July 16, 2007

Information Revolution... for what?

On June 26, 2007, a day that will live in infamy, Paris Hilton was released from prison, serving only 3 days of her 45 day sentence. Oh how the public was outraged. No longer was anybody Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, Black or White, Rich or Poor! They stood together and fought for Justice! Babies were crying, citizens were burning tires in the streets, Tibetan monks were dousing themselves in gasoline and burning themselves alive! Our system is broken, the citizens claimed. It needs to be fixed! (Obviously, I am being overly dramatic).

While the Libby controversy may not be as sexy, as say Britney Spears smashing a car with an umbrella, it by far out weighs the historical significance. Yet where is the outrage? I myself was bothered by it, but I have difficulty finding someone to discuss that with. While we as people should take the responsibility to learn about the current affairs of our country it shouldn't become an investigation. That is what the news media is supposed to be for. Why are we uninformed? In a study done this year, 2007, only 29% of Americans could identify Scooter Libby ( I wonder how many people could identify Monica Lewinsky. Blame needs to be put entirely on the media for this reason, the information revolution. With the advent of the interent, 24 hour cable news and the multitude of newspapers one could buy, you would assume that Americans would be more fully aware of this nations affairs and current events now more than ever, right? Wrong, we as Americans are far less knowledgeable today than our predecessors of 17 years ago. How is this possible in the age of information? Where information is so easily accessible. It's because the media has put "actual" news on the back burner while putting Anna Nicole, Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson and Britney Spears on the forefront and blinding us from important news. The media companies now are more concerned with bottom line profits than they are at informing the public of issues and events that affect their lives and the lives of their children. The media has an absolute obligation to prioritizing relevant and important information over company profits. Gone are the days of investigative journalists. They have been replaced by loud mouthed political pundits, who seek to demonize those who's opinions they differ with and create further division in already divided country.

The day after Paris' release from prison I couldn't walk into a deli, the supermarket or my office without hearing somebody expressing their indignation for her shortened sentence, yet after Scooter Libby's commuted sentence and the politically motivated firings of 8 U.S. attorney's, no talk, no outrage. There was embarrassment and fury when Mark McGwire took the 5th amendment refused to testify over steroids in baseball, but when George W. Bush claims his exceptionally broad executive privilege over anything and anyone that has the slightest smell of a scandal, nothing. Barry Bonds is booed in every ball park he steps into because he cheated at a "game", while Dick Cheney can walk into a stadium of cheering citizens after deliberately presenting questionable or even false evidence that led the country to an aggressive war based on false pretenses that has led to the deaths of thousands. Does anyone care? Yes we do care. However, we have not been given the opportunity to care.


Steve Kemetko's BF said...

Nice editorial there, Flynn-- Hill (Doug, not Clinton) and I were talking about the Scooter Libby thing and how shocking it is that no one seems to be up in arms over the commute on Friday.

One minor spelling error though, in case you want to correct it for the sake of posterity, "internet" was spelled wrong.

ptb said...

I agree that there should be greater accountability and responsibility within the media and I also get insanely frustrated with their rampant coverage of non-stories. However, at the end of the day, their programming is still based on the interests of the people.

They could cover only genuinely newsworthy and relevant topics, but that doesn't mean people will watch/read. If people want coverage of Paris Hilton they are going to find it.

The reality is that all the information in the world is readily available to anyone who is willing to put in the slightest bit of effort in discovering it. Unfortunately our society suffers from a sort of collective ADD and the gossip related news that is now so prevalent feeds into this. Far too many people prefer the instant, mindless gratification of hearing “Lindsay Lohan is back in rehab” to taking the time to learn of Scooter Libby and all that his story involves. I'm not saying the media is blameless, just that it is (regrettably) reflective of the population.

Douglas E. Flynn said...

Lindsay Lohan is back in rehab?!...