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:
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail