Week 1: Assignment 2
In my opinion, media is a vast wasteland that barely fulfills a useful or constructive purpose. It misconstrues facts for financial gain, creates lightning rods out of topics, perpetuates festering issues, exemplifies stereotypes and events as a macro instead of micro events, and generally gets a lot of things wrong. With that said, even if they were perfectly honest or always right, someone would have my opinion regardless. No one can be permanently or totally pleased with our mass media industry, and I am certainly not pleased. I do think the government should have more authority to monitor mass media, I won’t argue against that. However, I do think that there are examples of journalism that is altruistic, honest, compelling, riveting, essential and paradigm shattering.
One thing that I have seen in mass media as a private citizen and even with government sources, negativity sells. Fear generates change, even transformational changes to hedge against threats both known and unknown. Very rarely does anyone care to report on things done well or acts of altruism. With that said, finding nuggets of positivity is extremely difficult if you don’t know where to look. Not unsurprising though, the media is loaded with articles domestic and international that only bring up the bad. In fact professor, I have international friends from the service and scholars that have a gross misconception of this country and her culture due to our mass media. The common narrative is a country riven with problems that exceed a per capita rate comparable to our neighbors for crime and other issues.
How do you cure that, how do change that paradigm? It certainly isn’t easy, but programs done by mass media like CNN Heroes is a step in the right direction. Every day, this nation has millions upon millions of silent altruism that makes her great. This is horrendously underreported and makes people jaded. We have created in the mass media industry the perception that bad reigns supreme and good is a lonely edifice being chipped and rusted away. Flipping that relationship is the only way to start and giving credit to positive and constructive developments should be our path forward. I would go as far to say that any article reporting bad news should have another that reports on good things occurring.
That is how I have personally attacked the stereotypes affecting the nation’s reputation as a people domestically and internationally. I tell them about all the good that is occurring in a nation that is rated as the most powerful, still, in many fields. It isn’t a mountain of blue that keeps us safe, they protect the vast majority from fringe elements. It is from boring old Americans doing a routine that is safe, responsible and moral every day. Their sacrifice and toil goes underreported on how they make the nation better and stronger. CNN Heroes is a way to do just that and break up the monotony of bad and worse that is ever present in American media.
Unfortunately, there is one problem with it. It does not get enough attention or coverage. CNN understands their audience and changing it impacts the bottom line. It would be akin to the thought police for the government to go in and do as I suggest. It most likely does not even have the authority, even with the bloating of governmental authority we have seen. However, if mass media wants to avoid the government intruding into its affairs it should begin to change its model and show a positive side to things once in a while. Heck, I rarely peruse the news anymore and stay with science journals and select news agencies outside of a select few.