wenty-five years ago, writing
about the US media, Noam Chomsky noted that a well-functioning
propaganda system presents a picture of the world that has only the
remotest relation to reality.
WHO'S REPORTING WHAT AND WHY?
the advent of the Internet and other alternative media conduits, the
citizenry has become more aware, if not more informed. Protests were
once focused mainly on people and issues. But now the attention has
turned to the media as well. Have we become arbitrarily cynical, or are
the mass media and the politicians less capable of selling propaganda
to the masses? Photo: Fred Askew
His assessment is even more
accurate today as our major news sources have become indistinguishable
except for differences in vocabulary and syntax, while what they
uniformly report becomes narrower and narrower, the huge omissions and
distortions, "spins" on reality giving us less and less true and
necessary information on which to base our ideas and opinions.
Our media icons: the NY Times, The
Washington Post, and such like class of information agencies, package
"news" as popcorn. These co-opted corporate news outfits take kernels
of reality, heat them with disinformation, and explode them to present
us with air as news. A little salt added in the form of "exposés and
scandals" gives flavor and helps us believe these are investigative
reports from truth-tellers.
The truth kernel is sometimes
there, but it takes more patience and time to find it than most people
have, and besides, it isn´t as tasty; so instead we consume the air and
think we are being nourished by a free press.
Moving to CNN, USA Today, and
almost all of the other sources of our "news" in the United States, we
are no longer even fed popcorn, but are handed a media Cracker Jacks
box. [Cracker Jacks, for those too young to remember, is caramelized
popcorn with a cheap, tiny plastic present hidden within, most often
sold at baseball games.] The caramel coating -- the infotainment of
astrology forecasts and movie idols´ doings [What did Brad and Angolina have for breakfast?] -- makes it even more
difficult to remember there is supposed to be a corn kernel in there. Searching for the plastic present -- the "in" phrases, the latest
style to imitate -- distracts us from even thinking about looking for it.
Europeans are fond of disparaging
US-Americans as politically naïve and uninformed, but they get precious
little more reality in their news; it is only that European media has
less experience in popping corn.
To find the kernel, we need to
access other sources of information with which to compare and contrast,
analyze and criticize the product messages from corporate and political
power fonts; in other words, to eat a well-balanced diet of information.
Fortunately varied foodstuffs exist as an alternative or nourishing supplement to our fast-food genetically modified media.
We have small portions of
health-food presented by such progressives as Amy Goodman with Democracy Now and, to a lesser extent, some of the programming of
With the Internet we can access honest
spices and learn of demonstrations and protests around the world from IndyMedia, for example, and many other sources to find
out what other people are really thinking and doing. Simply by hitting
an indymedia link or googling alternative media we can find mind foods that
And for a wholesome, well-balanced
diet of straight news, there are excellent fonts of non-genetically
modified sustenance from foreign news agencies such as Prensa Latina. PL, the
international news agency based in Cuba, has an anti-war, pro-people,
pro-unified Latin America and pro-Cuba point of view of course, but if its truth in news you need and
want, this is an excellent food source.
We may not be able to change our
McDonald´s of the news, and we don´t need to do so-a little junk food
can be fun after all- but our minds, like our bodies, need something
better as a steady diet, and fortunately, it´s available.
CAROLINA COSITORE (Prensa Latina)