Television networks. Social media. Blogs. Online news sources. Newspapers, even as they become extinct by each day. We have endless outlets through which we receive our news. Nowadays, Twitter will let us know what moronic thing Bill O’Reilly said before the television news is talking about it. With the prominence of social media, anyone, at any time, is liable for immoderate backlash for saying something that doesn’t sit well with the masses.
Recently, Don Lemon definitely found that out. Admittedly, he didn’t expect the response to be so ill-disposed. But it’s 2013. Don Lemon should not be so absent-minded about backlash and criticism. The most remarkable thing about the media to me is how much we blame it for societal ills. Oftentimes when something unfolds or a baseless opinion is passed as fact, we blame it on the media’s presentation of it. For example, and this is myself included, the oversaturation of the coverage of Johnny Manziel’s life and actions. I’ve said numerous times that his actions are often inconsequential but made to be a huge deal because of how much the media insists on microanalyzing his every move.
I often begrudge sports news outlets for extrapolating more out of a situation that Manziel is or was involved in for the sake of having something to talk about. That concern is magnified during the humdrum days of summer where all there is to talk about is baseball. Thus, it’s then that we see ESPN and its likes picking up on every off-the-field issue, however atomic it may be, and talking about it to death. We love to hate the media. When a stereotype of an oppressed group is overestimated and misguidedly presented as factual, we blame it on the media.
The most popular occasions of shifting blame to the media are athletes and high-profile figures after they’ve said (or done) something dubious or idiotic. “It was taken out of context” or “The media likes to blow things out of proportion” are their favorite go-to lines. For a sect of the population, the Trayvon Martin case has made them feel a considerable amount of revulsion towards the media even more, from the way it was covered to political and social pundits’ opinions on Trayvon, George Zimmerman, the case, and the ramifications of this whole tragic saga.
The media is more to blame for what they don’t say than what they do say. Furthermore, we can be complicit in the very criticism that we have about the media. We’re essentially the disposal for what the media has to pour out. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t put the full onus on us; the people in charge don’t always care for the cries of the masses. My point isn’t to talk about changing the landscape of who is represented in the media (although that is really the goal). My point is to talk about what and how we receive news and information. The best way to receive the most growth-inciting (not necessarily the most popular) news is to detach yourself from what’s comfortable and untroubled. It’s to detach ourselves from what sits easily on our heads and on the surface. We must hunt down what unnerves us and make ourselves receptive to it. If it’s true and revolutionary, it’s good, even if it makes us uncomfortable.
The real news is hardly ever what everyone is talking about Real news is supposed to change our lives. So Lindsay Loan being admitted back to rehab or Mile Cyrus tweaking isn’t news; it doesn’t change our lives. It’s something to make us laugh, to take the light off our own lives and place it on someone else’s to make us feel better about the negatives of our own lives. That’s not news. News is homeless people potentially being arrested in Tampa, Florida for being homeless and sleeping in public. News is a Norwegian woman in Dubai being sentences to 16 months in prison for having sex outside of her marriage after she was raped. That news changes our lives; at the least, it changes our understanding of our lives.Real news doesn’t always advertise itself as such.
Often times you have to go looking for it. Now that premise may seem to eviscerate the media of its primary purpose. But it doesn’t. With the emergence of social media, we have become unofficial news correspondents. We can now bring news and force media outlets to talk about things. Everything we admit into our lives is news. Are we engaging ourselves or just part of the media food chain? During the Bush administration, numerous media personnel laid low as crimes were being committed by said administration. In fact, more than lay low, they came to its defense. When it came to the criminality of the Bush administration (illegal wiretapping, torturing detainees, etc.), the majority of the media insisted that the administration should be absolved of any responsibility on the illogical basis that we need to move forward, not look backwards.
They said that they were conveying the sentiments of the population, but polls disputed that claim. The media was complicit in maintaining the culture of immunity for the elites of America. We need to constantly question ourselves and what we deem newsworthy. Open our minds, don’t be so quick to be offended. It’s not something you can completely master; you have to put it to the test consistently. It’s a hard task to want to know what we don’t want to know. We don’t need news that’s going to soothe our minds; we need news that’s going to shake the beans out of us. When we accept as news that which is devoid of authentic investigative power and doesn’t demand us to look harder at how we are living, we become people incapable of the give-and-take of human conversation. Any “news” that invites only consumption and not real drive to action isn’t news at all. We need to make our media, not about the story itself but, what the story drives us to do.
This guest post is courtesy of Manushka Gracia-Desgage you can hit her up at @drnush.
Make sure you check out this week’s episode of the “Straight Outta Lo Cash” Radio Show. This week’s show “Kanye Quest 3030″ with Magic 100.3′s Tony Scott. You can also subscribe to the show on I-Tunes or listen on your Android, I-Phone, or I-Pad with Stitcher Radio.