The Media Strikes Again!

North Korea sets off an underground nuclear device and the way the media sees it, the world has come frighteningly close to its very conclusion. Granted, North Korea is not a country that sane and rational people want developing a nuclear arsenal (of any amount), but if you follow the media’s presentation of this event, you’d think we’re on the brink of war.

The Fox News Channel showed us images of South Korean soldiers patrolling the border with North Korea and while we are watching these 3 or 4 soldiers walking along, the Fox newscaster tells us that North Korean soldiers were seen spitting in the direction of the South Korean side AND there were instances of North Korean soldiers flipping the bird to their South Korean counterparts! If that doesn’t signal Armageddon, then what does?

Yes, I reiterate: I do not like the idea of a country (ANY country) led by irrational, greedy people possessing weapons that can cause an enormous amount of harm. But there have been thousands of nuclear “tests” since the first test in the 40s and the world has not disappeared. I don’t have the exact figures but the United States and the former Soviet Union together performed over two thousand tests of nuclear devices. Pakistan, India, Great Britain, France and China have also “test detonated” nuclear devices MANY times. And I am still here able to write this post and I plan on being here for quite a few tomorrows.

Do I worry about North Korea or Iran placing a nuclear weapon in the hands of a radical group willing to set it off on U.S. soil (or anywhere)? Yes, but I also worry about a corrupt group of Russians soldiers (guarding one of their missile silos) selling a warhead to the same radical group. And I don’t get warm and fuzzy feelings about China’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. This entire subject area can be incredibly worrisome to people who desire peaceful, fulfilling lives.

However, what I do not like…no, let me rephrase that: what I detest are the efforts of this planet’s media to make this situation MUCH MORE dangerous than it is. It is dangerous, it can be very dangerous, but TOO MANY media types actually relish in making it as dangerous as they possibly can.

Why do they do this?

Because they are convinced we are suckers for bad news. And too often their ratings prove this out. The more dangerous an environment these guys can weave for us, the more we’ll pay attention to them.

Do you like that?

It is not true of every person in the media, but I’ll throw out a figure of 70%. I believe that 70% of the key media people (whether it be the New York Times, Fox News Channel, BBC, you name it) actually get more excited THE WORSE THE NEWS ITEM IS. When I say “excited”, I believe they become more interested, more involved, more intent on finding and telling us the smallest nuances of the existing or impending tragedy.

While this 70% figure is of course my opinion and my perception, I believe we can all agree on this: The media does not just report the news. They embellish, expand and even create the news. And because they believe we want (or are at least willing) to selectively hear bad news, they feel more than justified in keeping it coming at us. And with the exponential proliferation of news outlets through cable television and the net, they are often in a life-and-death struggle WITH OTHER NEWS OUTLETS to get that next piece of bad news out to us as quickly and convincingly as possible.

I realize I’m not really telling you anything new here. You know that the media concentrates on bad news and can at times even be responsible for creating a news event. It’s a profession that has self-perpetuation built right into it. Slow news day? Okay, let’s get out there and create some news. Trouble creating “new news”, that’s cool…just grab a piece of yesterday’s bad news and give it a new slant. Yes, that’ll work. Roll the cameras.

This planet would be a much safer and saner place without the constant stream of bad news coming at us. The media produces fear where previously it did not exist. It then feeds on that fear. I don’t expect media types (yes, I should probably say “people in the media”, but I’m not feeling particularly gracious today) — I don’t expect media types to have a very high level of self-awareness on this. It is a luxury their ratings do not afford them.

I watch as a new, local (or national) news anchor, reporter, journalist comes onto the scene, and you can sense that “I’m doing something good for my community and the world-at-large!” And as the years roll by, you see the toll it takes on them. You can see them age faster than the rest of us. Part of that toll is caused by their offences against their community and the world-at-large. Striking fear forcefully when a simple report would do. Sometimes a “no-report” would even be better IF they really had their community’s best interest in mind.

People in the media know all of these things and the justification that it’s their job doesn’t wash, even for them.

While it might take more than this post to reverse the course, there is something you can do. I wrote another post on this subject. Give that a read, consider its advice and let me know what you think.

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