In mainstream media, a story/news/info will usually go through many filters. As in a fairy tale, we do not need to be introduced to the gardener who grew the apple that the evil stepmother is going to poison, likewise we don't want to be told the whole story about the Near East conflict since Big Bang. Someone has to filter, and be selective about what is newsworthy and what is not.
Someone will tell the reporter where to to go and what topic to cover. The reporter will have his own means to gather the information he thinks is
valuable to the consumer. The editor will decide wether that story is important or not (first page? opener? can it be postponed?). Lastly, the
consumer himself will filter too: is he going to watch Fox, CNN or Discovery Channel? Does he care more about world economy or culture?
Still, the choice of the consumer is limited. He has to trust that the reporters, journalists and editors know what may be important for him - for
that very day or for his conduct of life.
From a more critical viewpoint, media tells us what is important and what is not, what we need to know, media tells us what is right and what is
wrong. They have tremendous power over our everyday toughts, they can control our mind. Yesterday, it was Iraq. Today, it's the Near East conflict.
Tomorrow, it may be a chinese strike on Taiwan or a huge comet on collision course with Terra. If they wish, they can leave us completely ignorant of
what is currently happening in Timbuktu or Tibet. If they wish, they do a full coverage of a fallen bag of rice in China.
One could answer: right, but it is us, the viewers and readers that influence the coverage of national and world news - media have to
calculate economically, we are responsible for TV quotas and the number of newspapers sold. If the masses prefer talk shows and daily soaps over
well-researched coverage about a bag of rice in China, it's not the media's fault. They simply serve the wishes of their consumers, just as every
society depenent on monetary profit.
Still, the spectrum of mainstream media is quite narrow. There is no such thing as liberty of information in the mainstream media. We are confronted
with a flood of "enter"tainment, "docu"tainment, "info"tainment, scandals, horror news and biased reports. We are told what music to like, which
films to watch, which candidate to vote for, everything.
That is one of many reasons why I haven't watched TV for five years. I don't want them to tell me what to stuff my brain with. I keep up to date
with newspapers, I buy DVDs, I go to cinema - and that works well for me.
That's why I think that these days the internet has become such an important medium. A flood of information to choose from. Blogs are the best
example for news that have not been pre-filtered. Already you can hear Cassandra say "false news travel fast". True, never has it been easier to
spread outright lies, rumors, urban legends, conspiracy theories over the whole planet in no time. Still, the internet (which, still a few years ago,
was called the only functioning anarchy in the world) has its own means of control and verification: "information knots" like blogs, disussion
forums, search engines and Wiki engines ("Web 2.0") provide a vast resource for serious and interactive research on almost all subjects, be it
global, econonical, philosphical, religious, spiritual, scientific, entertainment.... we are no more limited to being mere consumers, believers of
some higher entities. Instead, each and every one of us can take part in defining the truth; WE become shapers of reality. The network is there, and
it can't be abolished anymore just as you can't un-invent the wheel anymore. A few decades from now, there will be hardly anyone left on earth who
does not have access to the internet and that is why it is so important to ensure that this medium stays under our control and not that of our
governments or some big media corporations.
[edit on 8-8-2006 by Akareyon]