Happy Fourth! Like you, I take for granted many of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, like being able to travel as we please, protest against our government, and have probably one the highest standards of living in the world. Remember that you have access to clean water and sanitation, an education, and a lot of things that we all should be thankful for. I’m not going to go into my feelings here about health care (although I certainly feel as though it’s not a privilege, it’s a right for all citizens).
Just a note here on keeping our country “free.” I wonder how many Americans are actually tuned in to the changes in media that are affecting us as a country. American democracy was founded on a free press; it’s in our constitution, which pretty much means that we can express ourselves freely in a public manner. Over the past two decades or so, the value of responsible journalism has been devalued to the point where we really don’t have a “free” press anymore, and it’s getting worse every day. What’s happening in a lot of cases is that what you read in print, watch on television, hear on the radio, and certainly what you see on the internet is nothing but advertising. I am pretty attuned to this phenomenon, as are most people in the media business. Unless you know it’s been PAID for, most people apparently either don’t realize their mindset is being manipulated, or if they do, they don’t care.
I referred obliquely to this phenomenon a few weeks back when I wrote about all the phony-baloney “awards” and “best of’s” that are passed off as true, with a legitimate voting and awards process. In reality, many times the awards are quite literally paid for by the person or business getting the acclaim. A client of ours recently came in to buy a flight of advertising and when I asked him where else he was advertising his event, he told me that he was buying digital ads in a local publication’s newsletter, and included in his package of advertising, he was also going to get a mention on a local television station’s “picks” of the week from a staff member who has a regular spot on the TV station.
Hmmm. Now, I’m into promotion as much as the next guy, but I wonder if the news director at this TV station is aware (or even cares) that his news show is presenting a segment that’s not really news—it’s been bought and paid for. That’s shocking to me, as the publisher of a legitimate press outlet.
It’s okay if you tell us it’s an ad. Then it’s acceptable. We know you’re shilling for a client. Of course, then your “picks” don’t carry a helluva lot of credibility, IMHO. In other words, the presenter might want to say “These are our publication’s picks of the week, based on how much money we received for recommending them to you.”
If the segment is presented as news, then we have a real ethical problem.
The really sad reality is that many viewers/readers don’t care that they’re being spoon-fed promotion when they think they’re getting a valid, reasoned opinion and a reporting of facts.
Do you ever question what you see/hear/read in the media? If not, you should. You just can’t believe every damn thing just because it’s in print, on broadcast media, and certainly, certainly, not on the internet.
It boggles my mind to have witnessed the influence of broadcasters on many talk radio stations on the public consciousness. It’s sad and very worrisome to someone who’s concerned about keeping media journalism and reporting sacroscant. Without a functioning, objective, truly free press—free of paid propaganda that’s “presented” as news—we will not continue to retain our democracy. Our country is literally at risk. We’re slowly but surely turning into an “Idiocracy,” a movie I highly recommend that you rent and view. It’s not a documentary, it’s a satiric comedy directed by Mike Judge. Rent it or Netflix it if you can. It’s certainly not what I would consider to be a great movie, but it demonstrates what the US could turn into if we continue to accept propaganda as fact.
Anyway, I’m hopping off my soapbox for this week. Have a fantastic time at Essence and enjoy the 4th safely.