FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The State of the Media Union

by NORMAN SOLOMON

My fellow American media consumers:

At a time when news cycles bring us such portentous events
as the remarkable wedding of Britney Spears, the advent of
Michael Jackson’s actual trial proceedings and the start of
the Democratic presidential primaries, it is time to reflect
upon the state of the media union.

The achievements are everywhere to be seen and heard.

On more than a thousand radio stations owned by the Clear
Channel conglomerate, the programming quality is as reliable
as a Big Mac.

In cities and towns across the nation, an array of outspoken
radio talk-show hosts can be depended on to run the gamut
from the mushy center to the far right.

Television provides a wide variety of homogenized offerings.
With truly impressive (production) values, the major
networks embody a consummate multiplicity of sameness, with
truncated imagination and consolidated ownership. These
days, there’s a captivatingly unadventurous cable channel
for virtually every niche market.

A few naysayers like to disparage our system of mass
communications. Yet overall, modern free-enterprise media
outlets are the best that money can buy.

In 2004, those who scoff at the transcendent future of new
media technologies are like those who greeted television
several decades ago with cries of “idiot box” and “vast
wasteland.” The cynics failed to trust those who would be
enriched by the emerging medium.

Today, let us not be bound by old concepts of national
boundaries. The global village is being wired with fiber
optics; the power to consume is now in the hands of
billions.

In an era of international understanding — when everyone
from Peoria to Belgrade to Beijing knows the meaning of
golden arches or a Nike-brand swoosh — commercial
expression has become a kind of global lexicon in a language
gradually redefining what it means to be human. For the 21st
century, from one shining sea to another, a manifest
corporate destiny is upon us.

Leaving no pixel unturned, entrepreneurial genius has found
endless ways to innovate on behalf of the eternal quest for
more capital. Just as the highest monetary achievers among
us have learned to seem to do good while doing
extraordinarily well for themselves, the TV networks teach
us that the most pristine values are to be achieved by, not
coincidentally, spending money. Every priceless moment, as
MasterCard commercials have often reminded us, somehow seems to coincide with financial expenditures.

To better live in a society that treasures individuality,
you can learn how to be more in step with everyone else who
matters. Glancing at a TV screen for scarcely more than a
second, you have the potential to absorb the latest data
from key stock-market indicators as well as glimpse snippets
of headlines crawling across the bottom of the screen,
absorb computer-generated graphics, listen to voices, hear
background music — and, of course, keep an eye on the big
picture.

But with all media privileges, my fellow American consumers,
come responsibilities. Some technologies are being abused to
bypass commercials on television, suppress pop-up ads on
line and resist legitimate efforts by sponsors to replace
your unduly iconoclastic sense of reality with lucrative
facades.

Yet let us be candid. The legends of corporate-driven
community, laid down by conventions of commerce and
politics, are suitable for compliance with never-never lands
of public pretense. Contrived narratives that provide
maximum profits can have little to do with authentic
experience. To guide the expenditures of time and resources
for enhancement of cash flow, our powerful institutions must
function as arbiters of social meaning.

First among equals of those institutions are the powerhouses
of mass media. As Marshall McLuhan observed, “All media
exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and
arbitrary values.”

These are revolutionary times, media outlets often remind
us. All over the planet, mass marketing boosts cultural
products to digitize the future. In the binary mode, you’re
either with it or you’re not. Media consumers of the world,
unite! You have nothing to lose but your brains.

NORMAN SOLOMON is co-author, with Reese Erlich, of “Target
Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You.”

 

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism:  Transcending the Masters tools
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Chuck Collins
Wall Street Hopes You’ve Forgotten the Crash Already
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Robert Koehler
Costa Rica’s Peace Journey
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail