August 14, 2005
THE MASS MEDIA v1.0.3
he other day, a friend and I were discussing the risks of being eaten by a bear or a cougar whilst hiking in the mountains. I urged caution. She objected, saying I was spoiling her expedition before it had even begun. I agree. I was spoiling her fun; but the danger is real, I felt, if somewhat exaggerated.
From where did I learn about these threats to life and limb?
I learned about them from TV, radio, one newspaper or another, or some other organ of the mass media. Surely these are reliable sources (at least compared to the Internet), aren't they?
We get our ideas from somewhere. Apart from our own direct experience and gossip, this is where we get our everyday ideas and attitudes, after we have been indoctrinated for years by state-run education. Parents and churches can only try to compete.
Thanks to my friend,
Chomsky, I know
the real purpose of the mass media, which is this:
The "mass media" could also be called the "successful media". The terms are interchangeable. Or it can simply be called "the media" since it owns everything anyway. (Two of the last two Governors General of Canada came from the CBC's stable of journalists, not from law or politics or academe, proving that the Prime Minister of Canada who appoints the Governor General of Canada recognizes, more than anyone, the power of propaganda.)
Those who aren't interested in these universal laws of publishing generally do not make any money and they usually find it difficult to survive. They are called "idealists" and sometimes "beautiful losers" or "cranks" when they are interred in the unmarked graves at the publishers' cemetery. Then, they are forgotten.
From this we can surmise that:
The mass media attracts
its audience by appealing to people any way it can. We are talking about
life or death, here. This is not cynicism. This is realism. "You
must give 'em what they want." The media has nothing to do with "freedom
of the press"; "justice"; "democracy"; "informing
the public"; or "telling the truth". In fact, the media
is one of the least reliable tellers of truth anyone could hope to find
anywhere. "America's most trusted news source!" Indeed. Best
of all (for them), the media can usually manage to get its
audience to pay to participate. Busy watching the entertainment, members
of the audience (who are lambs at the slaughter) do not suspect they
are the real product.
By the way, they report stories about bears and cougars eating people and automobile crashes on the highway to the mountains for the same reason. You will surely witness reports of Global Warming and the coming ice age too.
But you know that. Don't you?