For decades I have said that the messages of the Media become the fabric of our culture. Now I fear this shared fabric has been torn and may be unraveling.
We are witnessing the weakening, and possible fracturing, of Freedom and Democracy in the United States – and elsewhere – as large numbers of people are putting their trust in Media that have monetary, political, ideological, religious, spiritual or other reasons to falsify information, promote hate speech, engage in sensationalism and advocate violence.
On January 11th I heard an episode of On The Media – the Myth of the Lost Cause which did a deep dive into why supporters of the Big Lie (that Democrats stole the 2020 election) are invoking the “Lost Cause” myth of the Southern Confederacy. My understanding is that the original myth of the “Lost Cause” was that the Civil War was about the Northern States imposing their will on the Southern States, denying them their “States’ Rights” to secede, etc rather than it being about slavery.
Many are concerned that with over 50 million people believing that Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election and pushed through the final counting of the Electors, and with as many as 45% of Republicans supporting the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6th, that this will become a New “Lost Cause” Myth which could last for years and decades like the original civil war myth (that has lasted to this day).
It is not just the creation of this new myth that concerns me. Disinformation campaigns about the pandemic have already led to the unnecessary loss of hundreds of thousands of lives to COVID-19. And there are many “smaller” lies about Immigrants, Climate Change, etc that distort our culture, our shared reality, and result in lives lost.
Taken together, some people fear we are entering a new “Post-Truth Era” where such distortions are largely considered “Free Speech” and continue to be disseminated through many Major Media platforms and outlets as well as the giant Social Media Monopolies.
What can we do? I would like to see a Major Mobilization for Media Literacy and Media Transformation. Here are some potential general goals of such a mobilization:
- Do extensive Consciousness Raising about the importance of Media Literacy – the ability to critically evaluate and understand the many kinds of media; why a particular example of media was made; whether it is news, advertising, propaganda, or entertainment; who made it; and who benefits from it.
- Protest or boycott major media companies that knowingly falsify news and other critical public information for monetary, political, ideological, sensational or other reasons
- Take back Public control of the Airwaves: (including internet). Reverse the “Great Digital Giveaway” that took place under the Clinton Administration in 1996 that gave private licenses to Major Media companies without strong public interest obligations that we could now call for, such as:
- Create a 21st century version of the Fairness Doctrine
- Figure out how to institute safeguards that preserve Free Speech and also protect against hate speech and falsifying information that can affect public health and safety, etc
- Hold media accountable for hate speech and calls for violence on their platforms that actually result in violence. This is similar to the idea of holding gun manufacturers liable when their product is used to cause casualties and death, etc
- Support existing News Media in the Public Interest which are often non-profit, listener or reader-sponsored, and do not take political or corporate advertising. Examples of not-for- profit fact-based news and information sources that regularly illuminate the most significant issues include: Democracy Now!, The Brian Lehrer Show, Economic Update, and On The Media. And of course We, The World’s Welcome To WE Show and this Trends Magazine are other examples.
Simultaneously, We, The World, with our many allies and partners, will continue our work to create a “cultural shift” that fosters public acceptance of diversity and connection – “WE Consciousness” – understanding that our collective well being depends on the well being of each and every member of our society.
Thank you for your support of Public Interest Media so we can collectively begin to repair our tattered and torn social fabric.
Independent Non-Commercial News Media in the Public Interest
Freedom and Democracy depend on reliable, fact based Media that do not count on revenue from commercial advertisers or owners whose profit motive could affect what issues are covered, who is investigated and how the stories are presented.
While you may not agree with points of view expressed by particular guests on the following media outlets, I have found these shows to offer comprehensive news and analysis, and hard-hitting investigative journalism, without misleading “Alt-Facts”, “Fake News”, personal attack rants and generalizations that distract and discourage so many people on the web these days.
Here is a brief sampling of some of my personal favorites: