Insulating the population
Forgive me, dear reader (ha! who am I kidding?), for it has been a month since my last blog. Not for want of topics, but lack of time and application. Often, I’ll get fired up about something and even start composing a blog in my head, but never quite get round to committing pen to paper.
Tonight, however, is different. I just saw a great film, and was moved to get typing. It’s George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” about CBS newsman Ed Murrow and his “crusade” against Joe McCarthy’s un-American methods as chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Earlier this year, I wrote a posting for my company’s blog about the book “Bad News” by Tom Fenton. In it, Fenton lambasts the news media in general, and the network TV news in particular. He maintains that what was once a public service has been taken over by corporate agendas, and dates the decline back to the end of the cold war.
Watching “Good Night, and Good Luck,” it would seem that the struggle between corporate interest and investigative news reporting has been around since the beginning of television. Murrow maintained that television could do so much more than “entertain, amuse and insulate.” His articulate and scathing attacks on McCarthy’s actions were inspirational – and something rarely heard on TV today. Was he wrong? Does the public only wish to escape, to be protected from the big bad world rather than understanding it? Are we happy to leave politics to the politicians, without seeking to discover the other side of the story?
Sadly, I think the answer might be “yes.” George Bush beat out John Kerry in the last presidential election because his campaign was able to reduce the issues to a few simple slogans. Kerry, on the other hand, was too nuanced for the electorate’s taste. (That’s the liberal’s burden, in my opinion – to see the shades of grey.) We’re living in a black & white, on-off, binary age.
Ultimately, Murrow’s weekly news program lost its sponsor and was sidelined to a Sunday afternoon slot, replaced with something more “entertaining.” Fifty-odd years later, we at least have choice on our side. And the proliferation of Internet news and blogging shows that there are people out there who want thoughtful editorial and different opinions. Just maybe not enough of us
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