Before I get into the thick of what this particular Blog post is about I should like to point out a few things about me, things that should rid anyone of any doubt about whether or not I am qualified to write this particular piece.
Back in the 80s and 90s I worked, on and off, as a Journalist, both Freelance and with various newspapers and a couple of radio stations here and there. The most prominent ones included The Jordan Times; which was at the time The Official English Language Daily of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and which, for the most part, reflected the political views acceptable to His Late Majesty King Hussein of Jordan (father of the current Jordanian Monarch), and I did some work for Radio Budapest, the English Language Short-Wave Radio broadcast of the Hungarian government, during the so-called Socialist (Warsaw-Pact) period. I had apprenticed years earlier (before my work at Radio Budapest and The J.T.) in New York City, at a few modestly-sized local and regional publications and managed to get myself on TV News a few times, especially during the two years that my rise to fame seemed almost assured. In addition to that, I have worked with a few politicians, campaigning, and political leaders. Aside from all that; I have personally known a few people who are in the thick of the National (US) and International Mass News Media, especially during the time I had my own small NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) in Washington, DC...which also happens to be the place of my birth. So there should be no doubt that I am fairly well-acquainted with what really goes on and how it impacts upon the World and our everyday lives!
And now I will get on to what I want to say about how the Mass News Media inadvertently endangers the World (hence 'everyone').
First things first; let me qualify what I am about to say by stating the following: I am not the kind of superficial person who falls prey to those who spread dangerously false conspiracy theories and/or who wish to promote the worldview that the rich and powerful are all part of some grand, most sinister effort to enslave the majority of the masses and to wipe out any and all who would dare resist. I think such views are not based on an actual understanding of reality and how things work in the world, and I think that the world is much more complex than even most of those who also understand that it is a complex and somewhat chaotic reality, and that it is much more about an unpredictable set of conflicts than any actual conspiracies, all of which are the result of many competing interests, think it is! Even this last sentence is way too complex for most people to easily understand what I am trying to convey here. To put it as succinctly as I can: the World is neither as Conspiracy-driven as most so-called Conspiracy Theorists and Conspiracy Addicts think it is, nor as simple as too many highly educated, but poorly informed, Professional Academics think it is! In a nutshell: the World is a mess and we're fast heading for even worse trouble! But I do think that such utter chaos, and its horrific consequences, can be averted and that there is some hope that we will eventually get out of this Strobe-Light Chaotic Era, that is too chaotic to call a New Dark Ages...even if it does share some of the horrors of the Dark Ages itself.
The General Problem
(if you are someone well-informed about the Mass News Media; then you will know these things)
The supposed role of the Mass News Media is to properly inform the general public about what is actually happening in our World so that people can make informed decisions about how they conduct their affairs, including their personal lives, their business or work-related situations and how they vote and/or seek to influence their elected representatives. At least that is the role that the Mass News Media should play, regardless of whether it is otherwise run as part of a commercial, for-profit, interest or as a supposedly more-objective public, not-for-profit, interest. And for a healthy Democracy to exist...for a Democracy to exist and continue to exist at all...it is vitally important that the Mass News Media avoid inadvertently becoming such a factor in the equation that it, in the end, begins to be a major catalyst in creating major situations by having manipulated the public's perception of 'reality' to the point that the public is actually misinformed, be that deliberately so or unintentionally, and then makes a terribly dangerous mix of decisions, some of which will surely be harmful to society and to global economic stability and security! After all; if people get information that is almost entirely false or even just partly false then they will tend to act upon such information, and there will even be a significant but growing minority that will distrust almost all sources of information and begin to formulate their own theories, which will tend to be dangerous to the overall interests of society and the world! In a sense, news reporting is no different than scientific observation: the very technology and/or method of observation can alter what it is we are trying to observe, and worse yet; the Editorial policies of those who control what ultimately ends up being communicated to the general public is too often tainted by the manner in which, directly or indirectly, the Publisher and the Advertisers, i.e. the Corporate Interests, put pressure on the Editors or simply manage to manipulate the attitude of the Editors, etc. BUT this is not what I am ultimately getting at; it is simply to help you understand just how things work in the Mass News Media world (for people like Fareed Zakaria this will be elementary knowledge and rather boring). The bottom line: since every individual person, Reporters and Editors alike, come with their own set of biases, i.e. lack of actual, total objectivity, and since a major bias comes into play when one's income (wages/money) is at stake, chances are that even the least biased and most objective Mass News Media entity (news company, -paper, TV, magazine, etc.) will not be able to provide us enough of the actual story so that we can then act properly upon it. But even as things are never as simple as we might like them to be, and there are many shades of grey, there are some Journalists/Reporters and Editors who truly seek to take all these things into consideration and make the very best effort to provide us with as accurate a picture of things as possible!
The Specific Problem
One of the worst things that has happened to our Mass New Media in general, especially in the latter half of the 20th Century and going on into this 21st Century, is that when it seeks so-called expert opinions, such as when it seeks to review the day's or week's news, it tends to be too narrowly dependent on what it, and society in general, assume are the opinions of those who would seem to be the most qualified to 'help us' formulate a much better understanding of what is going on in the World, and why it is going on, and what is likely to happen next! That is to say; the Mass News Media has become, like the rest of society's decision-making bodies and institutions, over-reliant on a limited set of perspectives, much to the detriment of society's overall interests as a whole! For example; on Fareed Zakaria's GPS on CNN the panel of experts tends to be a mix of formally accredited Professional Academics (in the relevant fields concerned) and recognised political figures whose past experience would seem to make them more likely to be qualified to give us meaningful, additional insight. And, of course, some of the panel members, may not be the best minds on the topic concerned, but at least they have some degree of celebrity status and popular appeal, which helps boost the news show's (news program's) ratings! But this tendency is very dangerous, I dare say! Because not only does it leave out the voices of those who are the most obviously unsettling...and let us put aside the issue of whether or not one can have a meaningful news-review show with such dissonant voices present....but it even fails to invite the voices (alternative viewpoints) of those who have somehow managed to become sufficiently erudite and well-informed, who can read-between-the-lines, but who are also not as biased as those who currently tend to make up these panels, because they are not owned by anyone or any entity, commercial, political or otherwise, but who are actually voices which, as of lately, almost never get heard! Mind you, I am not talking about so-called Alternative Thinkers like Deepak Chopra, Anthony Robbins and Michael Moore; for they are very much biased by their massive commercial successes and by the fact that they did not have the kind of unusual lives that culminate from having been able to actually live at various levels of society, both socio-economically and intellectually! It is my sincere opinion that while it is truly wise of the Mass News Media to avoid regularly pandering or catering to people like Alex Jones, David Icke and Ron Paul, it is harmful and dangerous that the Mass News Media does not open itself to those Auto-didactic types who, by mere evidence of anything that they can put down on paper (articles they write) demonstrate that they are clearly capable of formulating Well-Reasoned Opinions and offering very practical/useful alternative insight, yet who have, for some reason or another, been constantly ignored by the book publisher's and by the Mass News Media simply because they are not Formally Accredited Professional Academics, Experts and/or Experienced Politicians and Decision-makers! But, you may ask, WHY? Why exactly does the general public need to hear the Alternative Opinions, Perspectives, Insight of those rare few types of people who somehow have both a broad and yet somewhat deep view of what is actually going on in the World?!? Simple; because it is such unusual voices that tend to have in past History helped make the World a much better place. In days of old it was people like Baruch Spinoza, Giordano Bruno, Nikola Tesla, etc., whose unusual personalities, hence perspectives, stimulated the minds, views and decisions of less unusual yet vastly more influential persons! And it is this very absence of such alternative yet sensible voices that contributes to a dangerous assumption that the only voices worth hearing from are those who have managed to acquire such formal accreditation and who are hence considered well-vetted by those who would and should be concerned about preventing superficially-minded yet charismatic hate-and-fear-mongering false Individualists from having easy access to the general public. After all; anyone who seeks to Lead others in an un-Democratic way is, ipso-facto, not a true Individualist; for they are willing to deny all others the power of the public's attention and thus their very worldview is not worthy of those who seek to strengthen the overall welfare and better interests of society and the World! In other words; what I am saying...implying...is also that it is no wonder that in the absence of such voices as my very own, for anyone who takes the trouble/effort to examine my particulars can easily ascertain whether or not I am a prime example of such a rare alternative voice,....in the absence of such refreshingly alternative voices, the voices of Autodidactic Individualists, it is no wonder that more and more people are beginning to lose their ability to trust the Mass News Media, and are beginning to perceive the Mass News Media as nothing more than clever efforts by Corporate Elites and their crony political stooges to deliberately misinform and manipulate the general public! Mind you; this is not exactly how I see it, but I have to agree that there is more than just a grain of truth in what more and more average members of society are beginning to conclude.
But, you may still ask, how does all that in any mean that the whole World is at risk?
When policies do not reflect the true will of the people, when Democracies are Democracies only in name, and have begun to turn, more and more so, into Plutocracies, which we all know are tantamount to Corporate Fascist systems, where Profits matter more than People and more than the Quality of Life itself, then we know, from previous Historical evidence, that in such a dishonest, distrustful and destructive environment paranoia begins to grow in leaps and bounds and eventually such systems themselves begin to falter and fall and in their place greater chaos and worse horrors follow, and eventually another set of false heroes comes forth to save the day, only to turn out to be even more ruthless anti-Democratic dictators! Except that in our current World Situation (global set of circumstances), what with all the unimaginably dangerous technologies that already exist, both known and unknown to the general public,....except that this time we are more likely to see the Total Collapse of Civilisation the World-over, IF we continue going this way! And IF there is any real hope at all, then it must come not from the dangerous agenda-driven, demagogue minds of dangerous people like Alex Jones, but from the next generation of Spinozas, of Sensible pro-Moderate Democratic Thinkers, of Autodidactic Individualists who will almost always tend to be Real Philosophers (not Professors of Philosophy), and who will definitely be champions of promoting a much greater and deeper understanding of the indispensable importance of Real Ethics in Science, Technology, Society, Politics and the Private Sector!
CASE MADE & CLOSED!
NOTE: The author, Jean-Pierre Ady Fenyo, is an American-Jewish Philosopher and is Independent of any group, organisation or other entity other than himself. He is an Autodidactic Individualist.
PS: Fareed; what is your sincere opinion on this?