OPINION – I recently read an article by Chris Brady titled “A Hero’s Freedom and Freedom’s Heroes.” I was especially struck by a quote from British author Paul Johnson describing how to recognize today’s heroes and heroines.
Johnson states: “First, by absolute independence of mind, which springs from the ability to think everything through for yourself, and to treat whatever is the current consensus on any issue with skepticism.
“Second, having made up your mind independently, to act – resolutely and consistently.
“Third, to ignore or reject everything the media throws at you, provided you remain convinced you are doing right.
“Finally, to act with personal courage at all times, regardless of consequences to yourself.”
All of these ideas ring true, but the third one about being willing to ignore or reject what the media is telling us seems especially on target. An individual who relies entirely upon mass media to develop his or her worldview is unlikely to be capable of standing firm when it really counts.
This is because mass media has gradually become an instrument of disinformation. This is especially true regarding how we get our news.
There are thousands of newspapers, television and radio stations across the country but, over the years, their ownership has been consolidated into surprisingly few hands. For instance, in 1983, U.S. media ownership was spread over nearly 50 different corporations.
Ben Bagdikian in his book “The Media Monopoly” describes how that all changed in the past 30 years:
“In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium and the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal. … (I)n 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. … (I)n 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty three. … (I)n 1997, the biggest firms numbered ten and involved the $19 billion Disney-ABC deal, at the time the biggest media merger ever. … (In 2000) AOL Time Warner’s $350 billion merged corporation (was) more than 1,000 times larger (than the biggest deal of 1983).”
Today, six media corporations control the vast majority of what we see, hear, and read as news. It’s not a matter of conspiracy to suggest that this has serious impact on what is being reported to us. The handful of corporations that own the vast majority of American media, are not in business to give us objective truth. They are in the business of turning a profit for their shareholders.
This means that we cannot count on the media to give us a clear picture of the world around us.
Ever notice how much of what is reported keeps us stirred up over stories and issues that have little impact on our lives. Meanwhile, the things that do matter are ignored or sometimes suppressed to keep us from thinking too independently.
For instance, how many people were riveted to media coverage of the George Zimmerman trial, but heard virtually nothing reported about how the U.S. government surveillance state is infringing on their liberty?
For too long, the press has served the purpose of being the gatekeepers of approved opinion. This, in turn, has had far-reaching effects on how the average American thinks.
However, there is a notable bright spot that is beginning to erode the influence of the gatekeepers. It is the Internet. And the free flow of information has enabled anyone with a computer and a minimum of technical knowledge to share relevant information with a potentially unlimited audience.
We now have the opportunity to replace the media with our own sources of information. The gatekeepers think they’re still guarding the gates, but the walls have long since fallen down.
In response, the Dept. of Justice is trying to get the genie back in the bottle by creating guidelines as to who is considered “news media” and who is not. Shield laws that are meant to protect the sources utilized by a free press would only apply to those individuals and organizations that are officially recognized.
An official press is not required to maintain our freedoms. What is needed are men and women who are willing to fearlessly exercise independence of mind and share their information with others seeking truth.
Consider starting a blog or self-publishing a work that provides nourishment to a truth-starved world. Millions of small voices committed to providing truth can overcome the concentrated disinformation of those holding the media megaphone.
This will require heroes. Will you be one of them?
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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