Wither the Fourth Estate?

Is this man laughing at you?

Photobucket

.

Well. We are rapidly approaching some awfully critical events in the world of domestic and foreign politics. The denouement of the Dem primary battle, and at least a mini-showdown on a few of the fronts where the Democratic Congressionals are FINALLY opposing Bush. It sure feels like Pakistan is going to get interesting, and Iraq is reminding me of the old movie line “it’s quiet……..too quiet.” Despite all of the tensions behind the scenes having to do with the ineffective puppet Govt. And the Oil law, and the Turks and the Kurds….etc. It is going to be quite a ‘interesting’ spring and summer. And then we have the general election that will (at the VERY least symbolically) shape and determine the fate of the world for the immediate future.

And of course during all this…the world is building hundreds of new coal burning power plants and huge numbers of cars and doing all it can to pretend that the ice caps aren’t melting.

And presiding over it all will be the Fourth Estate, the media.

The corporate owned media. The self interested media, the conflicted of interest media….what we used to call, the NEWS media….will decide which pieces of information you receive. Will decide which narratives to spin. Decide how each event will be framed. How each new development is perceived. Decide which story to tell the world. Will, in that way, decide how the world reacts to these possibly monumental events.

In some ways the Wolf Blitzers and the Brian Williams’s and almost certainly Rupert Murdoch….have more influence on the way things will go than those actually generating the events they cover. In an interesting application of the idea that ‘All politics are local,’ the events themselves tend to be somewhat localized. The perceptions of events that are then broadcast, in large part determine the cultural…and thus political reaction. By picking and setting the narrative, by broadcasting their reaction to events, they are in essence telling us how we should react. And most definitely telling the politicians and participants….those who are required to react…..  What their reactions should be.

The media have become our story tellers and our interpretors of the myths and meanings of all that happens in our global village, in effect, the shapers of our reality. All we have after all, to shape and understand our reality is the information that each of us takes in on a daily basis. And even the smartest and sharpest among us cannot analyze and process and integrate that now massive amount of information on our own. In olden days, the Wise…the Elders would perform that function. And in olden days, they had the time to consider just how to do it and the effect of their interpretations of events in relation to the culture and its myths. Now, we receive a never ending shotgun blast of new myths and interpretations and attempts at pre-programming our responses hourly and daily.

There is not time to thoughtfully respond to events or to try to discuss, question and change the framework that the events are presented to us in. By the time rational thought even has a chance to surface, we are on to the next rapid fire iteration of sensation stimulating artificially enhanced emotionally barbed…’news story.’

Yes we are fighting back on the blogs as much as we can. We are trying to do our part to temper and change the myths and memes that are inflicted on the public like a plague in order to sell headache remedies that you can apply directly to your forehead in the commercial breaks between the presentation of the representation of reality that is giving you the headache. But the blogs reach a TINY portion of the eyeballs and cortex’s that TeeVee does.

So it comes down to this.

You cannot change the world unless you change the perceptions of the world, and by extension the reactions to those perceptions. And as long as our (cultural) perceptions and reactions are influenced so greatly by…if not controlled by, in the case of those of weaker mind and curiosity….The Powers That Be: Media Division, we will have immense difficulty building and maintaining a different….better….narrative….and healthier myths, for the global village.

How do we do that? How do we wrest control of the narrative away from those who are currently determining it through the way they present and frame “The News?”

It is at least as important a question as who to elect or how to prosecute their brethren in our current executive branch, if not more so.

Reality IS determined (at least to some extent)by war between two rival groups of programmers. How can we win that war?

40 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Photobucket

    • pfiore8 on February 18, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    How do we do that? How do we wrest control of the narrative away from those who are currently determining it through the way the present and frame “The News?”

  2. … for a new narrative … VERY ready.

    So we are providing it.

    Only question left is the delivery system and packaging.

    • ANKOSS on February 18, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    The answer to the question of how to remove distortion and propaganda from news sources is directly analagous to the algorithmic solutions developed by communications theorists for removing degradation from signal transmissions. The founder of information theory was Claude Shannon at Bell Laboratories. Starting in 1948 Shannon developed a rigorous theoretical structure governing how information could be accurately transmitted over noisy and imperfect communications channels. Shannon’s key insight was that by adding progressively greater amounts of error correction detection and processing structure, signal accuracy could be maintained at an arbitrarily high level over even the poorest quality transmission channel. Because of Shannon’s work, we can receive accurate pictures from space probes millions of miles away, and our web browsers seldom receive  garbled information.

    What is needed in the world of Internet news sources is a similar set of algorithmic breakthroughs and protocols that will make the accuracy of news sources regulatable. The key to accomplishing this is a trust network and feedback system similar to what Google uses to rate citation quality. One way to think of this is as continuously self-adjusting rating system, in which deviations from accuracy are quickly identified and circulated to all consumers of information. Most news sites already have crude feedback mechnanisms that allow readers to rate the quality of news items. What is needed is a homogeneous scheme for aggregating and analyzing these ratings, then broadcasting these scores to the news consumer community. Weighting the scores by the trust ratings of the scorers would be a further enhancement.

    Some such scheme will emerge from the evolution of the net. We may be able to speed up the process on Docudharma. I would be happy to help.

    • OPOL on February 18, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    You cannot change the world unless you change the perceptions of the world, and by extension the reactions to those perceptions. And as long as our (cultural) perceptions and reactions are influenced so greatly by…if not controlled by, in the case of those of weaker mind and curiosity….The Powers That Be: Media Division, we will have immense difficulty building and maintaining a different….better….narrative….and healthier myths, for the global village.

    Absolutely.  As to how we do that, I think we’re doing it, here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, by providing alternative views and ‘education’.  I think we just need to step it up.  People are getting our message – or Obama would not be catching fire the way he is.

    It’s like you’re always telling brother buhdy, “Yell louder!”

  3. they can’t handle it. I read somewhere that good old fashioned word of mouth is still a large factor in peoples opinions and information. I’ve found that lately people are more open to hear an alternative to the information they deep down know is jerking them around. I have been trying lately to take what I learn here and spread it around.

    I have toned down my yelling as before I yelled so loud that people just covered there ears and ran, course I was not too rational. You can also turn people to sources they trust books, TV shows that don’t suck, movies. The more the corporate media’s narrative unravels as  reality sets in the more people crave the real story. We can help provide it.  btw:word of mouth works two ways, you learn a lot if you listen.

    Great essay Buhdy. I suppose it’s too much to hope for regulations and the fairness doctrine? Nothing ‘free’ about the news market!    

    • documel on February 18, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Local media is disappearing–concentrated in the hands of the very few.  Newspapers can no longer afford to have independent bureaus all over the country and the world.  The internet has caused the steady decline in print revenue and until a way is found to give local media more money, democracy has to work in an information void.  And democracy needs information to function–so our system is doomed.  

  4. IOHD is a serious distraction from the way forward.  

    I’m quite happy for the software experts to develop ways to monitor this blizzard of simply TOO MUCH!  

    Personally however, I have already developed a mechanism for sorting out what is growth and evolution positive and what is retro.  For the most part, I don’t have time to read all this; and it seems I have developed a facility where I do not need to read or study it all.  Since it is impossible, I have automatically developed filter categorization.

    Filter Categorization allows me to know ahead of time, how our politicos are going to vote, to act.  It is all so boringly predictable. Are they power hungry and greedy or are they infused with the evolutionary spirit of sharing and cooperation?  With this as the touchstone, my judgements are easy.  I don’t let the plethora of media confusion get in my way.  But because I am acting out of instint or intuition, I need oversight.

    Therefore I need the software experts to pinch me when I get out of line, or behind the times, because I simply can’t keep up with  TOO MUCH!

    This is my way around the maze buhdy describes:

    The media have become our story tellers and our interpretors of the myths and meanings of all that happens in our global village, in effect, the shapers of our reality. All we have after all, to shape and understand our reality is the information that each of us takes in on a daily basis. And even the smartest and sharpest among us cannot analyze and process and integrate that now massive amount of information on our own. In olden days, the Wise…the Elders would perform that function. And in olden days, they had the time to consider just how to do it and the effect of their interpretations of events in relation to the culture and its myths. Now, we receive a never ending shotgun blast of new myths and interpretations

    I think this instinct can be programmed into the software.  I don’t know what code to use, but I think there is one.

    So pinch me when I get too crazy!

Comments have been disabled.