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#1950 - 08/03/00 09:38 AM Re: Politics and the Press
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Whoa! And I thought the other thread would open a can of worms! (By the way, when I first saw PC, I thought
"personal computer"!)

OK--I think Americans as a whole are fervent in believing in individuals' rights. This extends to freedom of the
press.

I have thought for years that the media have far too much influence. I am absolutely convinced that everything from widespread coverage of murders, to movies that portray murder as a natural response to an irritation, have played a
major role in why our society is so much more violent today than it was a couple of generations ago. (Of course, our
Right to Bear Arms makes catastrophic violence so much easier.)

As individuals, we all have the right to choose:
NOT to own a gun, or NOT to read certain newspapers, or NOT to go to or allow our children to watch violent movies.
Even if we do all of these things, we still can choose whether to let our behavior reflect them.

My concern is with the insidiousness of the media. Many people are in fact influenced by it without being aware that they are. AND--for all but a very small percentage of the things the media presents, there is no authority at all to say what they "ought" to do. A parental disciplinary role-player, in other words: someone saying, "Gee, let's think about the ramifications of this".

I suppose some editors try to act in good conscience, but if the bottom line is sell, sell, sell, why then they choose to go with what sells, never mind the ramifications.

And I can't really advocate putting a parental figure in charge--what if they allow something I don't approve of?
(In other words, there'd be no pleasing all of the people all of the time.) One person's quality news is another
person's trash.

I agree very strongly that the media constitute a kangaroo court. The real courts here do at least make an effort to have trials (at least major-impact trials) free of the influence of the media. Prospective jurors are asked to avow that they have not read/heard about the case, and
sometimes cases are moved away from the locale of the crime, due to news coverage.

So--MY bottom line is that each one of us ought to do the right thing in making our choices, BUT...I am not at all sure that enough of us are going to be able to overcome our
"go with the herd" inclination, to make a significant difference.


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#1951 - 08/03/00 10:55 AM Re: Politics and the Press
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
the "mass media" (read free press) is certainly a popular "whipping boy" these days. but we need to remember that the popular historical alternative is "managed" media (see China, USSR, Nazi Germany, etc., ad nauseam).

[by the way, a whipping boy was a boy educated with a prince and punished in his stead, a rather apt analogy for blaming the media for all our ills.]


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#1952 - 08/03/00 11:05 AM Re: Politics and the Press
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
isn't it a beautiful thing about democracy that people choose things they shouldn't?


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#1953 - 08/03/00 11:30 AM Re: Politics and the Press
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
>>blaming the media for all our ills.

I thought I ought to have made that clearer! I did say that sometimes people have been influenced by the media without really being aware of that fact.

This is one of the things I was thinking, but didn't write, that we can choose to do: consciously think about what we
allow to control us.


And william, yes it is beautiful--but with every privilege comes responsibility, darn it!



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#1954 - 08/08/00 04:10 AM Re: Politics and the Press
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
Interestingly enough, I have never heard anyone (criminal or otherwise) complaining to have been influenced HIMSELF/HERSELF by the media. It's always "the others'" misdeeds that are "explained" in this way by well-meaning third-party commentators. Is there a tendency to credit others with less free will than oneself?


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#1955 - 08/08/00 01:02 PM Re: Politics and the Press
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
>>. Is there a tendency to credit others with less free will than oneself?

Yes, I think there is--and I think that particular aspect comes under a much more generalized category: that we see faults in others quicker than we recognize the same faults in ourselves. Do you know very many people who say they are bad drivers? Thought not. And just think of how many people complain how awful it is when someone monopolizes the conversation, but do the exact same thing themselves.

Though I will say that there have been a couple of times in the U.S. that a teen-ager (usually) states that he or she was influenced by the media into a criminal act. I cannot help but feel that we wouldn't have had so many tragic high-school shooting sprees if it weren't for the news coverage of the earliest ones.

We are all so different in so many ways, but we are all alike, too, in others. This Board is teaching me that people are the same the world over, in wants and needs--never mind the petty differences. Fantastic!!!




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#1956 - 08/09/00 11:27 AM Re: Politics and the Press
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
wsieber,
i agree with you.
people who warn of the media's dangerous influence often seem to be magically immune to that influence. i doubt if most of us are much different.
i don't think it's necessarily about finding fault in others, jackie. i think we tend to misplace influences, even our own. we give reasons for our actions that are often juvenile, not to mention completely wrong.
the question of why people kill others in schools is incredibly deep. the copycat theory is just too simple. if it were true, everyone would copy.
the answer to the question "why did you have a cup of coffee?" may be answered:
"because eveyone else is"
"because i needed a caffeine fix"
"because i always have one at ten a.m."
"because i just saw a great nescafe ad"
but do those reasons satisfy us?
they are just empty quotings of vague influences.
the best answer i can think of is:
"because i felt like it"
isn't it possible that there are deeper passions behind our decisions?
yet we refer to pictures, as if they make us decide.


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#1957 - 08/09/00 11:51 AM Re: Politics and the Press
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
william, I do see what you're saying, and I think you are right, about the majority of people. But I still think that some people, especially youngsters, are likely to see something and then say, hey, I'm gonna do that, too.

In other cases, I suspect people have had a vague idea of doing something criminal, and seeing it in the media acts as the catalyst for them to decide to go ahead.

Hope I'm wrong, 'cause there sure is a lot of evil thrown at the kids these days. And for the ones who have no one to
tell them that what they are watching is in fact the wrong thing to do, then woe betide their peers and future colleagues.


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#1958 - 08/09/00 12:02 PM Re: Politics and the Press
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
I was a journalist for 20 years. Left the profession, for all the above reasons y'all mentioned. Now jaded and unconvinced.


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#1959 - 08/09/00 12:45 PM Re: Politics and the Press
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
jackie,
this must be the big one.
once you decriminalise information, you can't take it back.
it's now possible to see almost anything on the internet, and no one knows if the user is an adult or a child.
it's scary to think how much children can "learn".
the big one is, as we free information, how does it affect the youngsters you mentioned?


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