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Updated October 8, 2003

Updated August 16, 2004

Freedom of the Press is one of the fundamental necessities of civilized life, if not a basic right provided for by the Constitution of the United States of America and other documents of an equivalent constitutional nature.  In the constitutional case, it comprises an essential aspect of The First Amendment to the Constitution -- essentially the right of unlimited communications, to wit:  

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

But with all rights, come responsibilities.   

In the military, for example, it is said that “rank has its privileges.”  But unspoken is the absolute necessity: “Rank also has its responsibilities.”  In the case of an  Aristocracy -- American or otherwise -- the same rules apply.  In the movie, Chariots of Fire, the headmaster reminded the young hero that he was a member of the elite, and as such was required to set an example of proper conduct at all times. Obviously, this was an historical drama set in a time nearly a century ago! It's hard to imagine today.

In the case of the press, aka the Media, there are responsibilities as well, at least from any ethical basis equivalent to the authority granting the rights in the first place.  The fact the Media (inclusively, the mainstream press, television, radio, and Inter Net -- including a majority of alternative or fringe Inter Net news postings)... the fact these so-called “news” organizations regularly and consistently ignore their responsibilities, does not remove the need or desirability of having a responsibility to the truth instead of a hidden agenda.  Such a responsibility to the truth includes getting the facts correct in the first place, and thereafter conveying them in such a manner as to ensure that they are interpreted in a legitimate and reasonably accurate fashion.

An excellent example of the problem was recently encountered with respect to the Iraq War of 2003, 2004, (and the foreseeable future).  Truthout.org [1] has done an excellent job in analyzing certain misperceptions concerning the reasons for going to war by noting that in a series of polls conducted during the summer of 2003:


48% incorrectly believed evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda had been found,


22% incorrectly believed weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, and


25% incorrectly believed world public opinion favored the United States going to war with Iraq.

A critical factor is the result of these misperceptions particularly in regards to those who support the war.  For example, according to the poll:


With no misperceptions, 23% support the war.


With one misperception, 53% support the war.


With two misperceptions, 78% support the war.


With three misperceptions, 86% support the war.

Obviously, so-called support for the war would be substantially less if the public did not have these misperceptions!

Note also the distinction in Truthout's essay [1] between NPR/PBS and FOX news in terms of audience misperception.  With one misperception, 80% of FOX's audience supports the war, while only 23% of NPR/PBS' audience supports the war.  "All things considered," one might want to listen to NPR/PBS instead of FOX.  [Keep in mind that the numerology of FOX is 666, and that foxes are traditionally sly folk.  The Catholic Church is also often symbolized by many esoteric traditions as a fox.]

[For some additional information from someone who has seen some of the goings-on first hand, refer to Bob Kalk's http://www.interactivemediaforum.org website.]

The issue of deliberate falsification of the news doesn't get a lot of press these days. Duh! Richard Schickel, for example, has noted that "A documentary is an arrangement (or, if it includes historical footage, a rearrangement) of nonfictional film, structured to support the pre-existing ideas of the filmmaker. Only the terminally stupid or the childishly innocent imagine that anyone making a documentary film aspires to objective truth." [2] [emphasis added] Mr. Schickel was, of course, writing before Michael Moore's movie, Fahrenheit 451, was released, the latter which one might surmise is ever so slightly opinionated -- although those portions of the raw footage without commentary spoke volumes of near-objective reporting.

The truly curious part, of course, is that an appellate court in the good old USA has ruled that the Media can legally lie. (How's that for a slam dunk?) The gist of the ruling is contained in an article by Mike Gaddy and published in the Sierra Times. Essentially, a journalist for FOX News charged that she was pressured by the FOX news management to air what she knew to be false information. After failing to win their point on three previous occasions (three different judges), FOX was able to find a Court of Appeals (in Florida -- big surprise!) which ruled that "the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion was only a 'policy', not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation." And while Fox aired a report after the ruling saying it was 'totally vindicated' by the verdict, the lesson to be learned for the rest of us is that the Media Can Legally Lie! [3]

[This was probably very convenient and already well recognized in 1886 when Coca Cola was touted as the "esteemed brain tonic and intellectual beverage."]

The ability of the media to legally lie may not be headline news however. When Jason Blair was fabricating stories and plagiarizing other people's work as a journalist for the New York Times, much of the public was nonplussed. Inasmuch as 35 to 40% of the public assumes that the media generally does not get the facts straight, there was also the assumption by much of the public that reporters routinely made up stuff. [4] A more balanced view is that of Katherine Hepburn, who is reported to have said, "I never cared what anybody wrote about me, as long as it wasn't the truth." [5]

Of course, Ms. Hepburn had also answered the question of what's the purpose of life -- why are we here: "To work hard and to love someone. And to have some fun. And if you're lucky, you keep your health... and somebody loves you back." "We are meant to live in such a way that we can hope there is always something better than what we currently have. I believe how I act today will affect the way I am tomorrow." [5] With this kind of wisdom, one can see the key to the Media dilemna.

This key turns the lock when we realize that the almost overwhelming existence of an irresponsible media does not eliminate the need of the responsible individual to use Discrimination in what that individual receives as alleged truth, what they ultimately believe, and thereafter what they act upon.  In essence, it’s a matter of doing one’s homework, and comparing notes between sources (such as searching the Inter Net, listening with an open mind to foreign news reports, comparing the reports from FOX News and NPR/PBS (for example), and making the time and effort to think about and discuss the issues with other open-minded individuals).  Otherwise, we have the case whereby non-discriminating individuals choose willful ignorance, join the ranks of Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys!, and continue along in their blissful fog.

The Media is not all bad.  (Neither, supposedly, is the Mafia -- where "family values" take on a whole new context.)  As for the media the serious dysfunctionality is in excess of 90%.  What is needed is separating the slims strands of wheat from the chaff which is virtually everywhere.  (Which is often easier said than done.)  The thing to remember is that the Media is, in one respect, really good at doing its job.  It has been said that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and those who can neither do nor teach, report.”  Let’s face it:  the vast majority of journalists are incredibly inept (if not simply stupid).  Otherwise they would be doing something far more beneficial and laudatory.  

On the other hand, there is also some notable talent in the Media.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is this talent is apparently dedicated (even while there are rare exceptions) to the manipulation of the masses at the bequest of the powers that be.  These powers are primarily the Corporations, who think nothing of maintaining Corporate Rule over most everyone by the use of Corporate Politics, the Public Education system, and the Media.  These are not nice people.  They are anal retentive, and... well, pretty screwed up.   

For anyone who might question this allegation of an overwhelming Corporate Bias in the news media, it might be wise to note that the Media is itself the epitome of being a corporation.  All the mainstream Media consist of corporations, which are in turn controlled by other corporations -- either directly by virtue of being a subsidiary, or indirectly by being beholden to the corporate advertisers, aka the ones providing their financial support.  The mainstream Media is simply biased out the kazoo.  Reports on Enron and the like mean nothing.  Like when was the last time Enron laid out a big advertising budget?  The Media can be quite vindictive against those not ponying up!  

The Media does make an exception in its Corporate Bias policy to include politicians who themselves pay big bucks for advertising, and as a fringe benefit encourage the Media with all manner of special perks.  The fact the politicians are simply a wing of the Corporations (at their beck and call), is not lost on the Media, who knows a paying customer when they see one.  Money rules the Media.  Truth does not.  Nor responsibility.  Nor intelligence.  

The moderately scary part, of course, is that the Media is getting very good at manipulating not just the news, but the viewers and readers as well. The so-called art of psychograhics -- including psychology, sociology, and probability theory -- is now being used to target potential viewers/readers, and therefore consumers. "When you combine people's attitudes, behaviors, life stages and values, you can predict 82% of the time what car a person will buy next." [6]

Psychograhics is about establishing better pideonholes in which to thrust people -- categories from "shotguns and pickups" to "struggling singles", "priority parents", "tribe wired", "band leaders" and "Renaissance women." In essence the key is to figure out the programming and advertising that will sell. "People's identities are much more wrapped up in their hobbies, sports teams, political affiliations and attitudes toward the media, which radically affects the way marketers should approach them." "Not only is the world less homogeneous today, but even in the past, we [i.e. Madison Avenue] assumed the world was more homogeneous than it actually was." [6]

As Pamela Paul points out, "There may be a dark side to the increasing precision with which marketeers can locate and track their quarry. The Orwellian overtones of companies and market researchers' getting together to share vast databases of detailed, individual consumer behavior are hard to deny. Just the names of psychographic tools (Monitor, MindBase, LifeMatrix) are enough to get privacy advocates worked up." [6] These media technicians use the consumers' credit card usage history, information from public records, third-party research, product-warranty cards, responses to questionnaires, and which websites one is registered with. The current objective -- the so-called "holy grail of consumer information" -- is to determine how fast an individual is moving up or down the socioeconomic ladder and how fast. [6]

The basis for the Media's output is, of course, based ultimately on power. The distance from being a reporter of news to a marketeer of products to a manipulator of news has been seriously diminished as of late. On the one hand, the power of the press to be used for the benefit of the viewer/reader has shifted from the power to sell products to the power to influence politics and thought.

On the one hand, a single company (with a single board of directors or even a single, powermad individual) can own TV stations that reach up to 45% of the national market. Furthermore, newspapers and TV stations in the same market can be owned by a single party -- an innovation from 2003 which predictably was decided along political party lines. This Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision was opposed -- according to a Pew Research Poll taken at the time -- by roughly 10 to 1. Clearly, President Bush and the GOP leaders had to play definite hardball to push this agenda through. [7] On the other hand, the $124 million spent on political contributions and lobbying by the media industry apparently paid off -- at least for some.

Curiously the audience for National Public Radio -- generally recognized as the most affluent and educated in the nation -- is maintaining its radio listeners at a time when radio overall has suffered an 8% drop in time spent listening (1995 to 2003). [8] There just might be some connection between the relative increase in NPR popularity and the continually increasing monopolistic state of mainstream media.

Despite any and all of the above, it must be admitted that the media is pretty good at reporting ball scores.  Of course, one may be well advised to just skip the “recaps”, inasmuch as if you attended the game, you won’t recognize it from the quick and dirty summary the Media provides. But hey! It's in the ball park, right?

As for reporting current happenings, the emphasis is always on “quick and dirty”.  Real time news is even worse than reports from something resembling perspective.  One seldom has a clue as to the overall meaning of what one is seeing in the moment, and thus any possible intention towards responsibility is loss in the shuffle.

A marvelous experiment is to go without the news for a week, or a month, or even longer.  Re-entering the world at a later time is interesting, in that almost nothing that happened had any real, lasting significance on one’s life.  Better yet, the perspective of hindsight has the advantage of getting a better grasp of what really happened.  Try it.  You’ll like it.   One can also watch TV without the sound for thirty minutes or so -- especially news programs. It's really weird. And enlightening.

It’s also important to note that much of the “boiler plate” or “padding” the Media likes to call news is also part of their Corporate Bias policy.  How better to serve the Corporations than to distract the masses with inane and trivial reports, while the powers that be have a field day in committing serious crimes -- the kind where people suffer on a large scale.  

One could go on and on... and on...  

Or perhaps, return to Communications, Media, Education, or any other branch of the larger tree known as The Library of Halexandria, and charge into this repository of alleged truths and implications.  

Whatever you do...  Think about it.  (And then, Get Ye Over It.)

Or better yet, even take a trip on the wild side of optimism and creative, positive suggestions. For example, even while understanding the ever increasing monopolistic practices of the corporate media model, we can begin to ask deeper questions and seek more enlightened answers.. answers which are both positive and beneficial.

One such question concerns the degree to which the mass media influences and shapes individual and collective consciousness. In this regard the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) has called for "a new form of 'embedded journalism' -- where wisdom, integrity, compassion, creativity, and inspiration are embedded in the daily and weekly fare served up to us by print and broadcast media." The essental element is, in short, the suggestion that it's "time we paid attention to where and how the media direct our attention." For example, one change would be for the media "to report on anomalies that do not fit the dominant paradigm of scientific materialism." [9]

Duane Elgin has made several noteworthy observations with regard to the mass media [10]. These include"

"When we turn on the television set and search through the channels, we are literally moving through the steam of consciousness of a civilization." "Just as our mental habits impact the health of individuals, so, too, do our collective mental habits impact the health of entire civilizations. At this pivotal time in human evolution, it is vitally important that the mass media and their messages serve our psychological and spiritual health, and not distort our collective intelligence, imagination, and evolution. However, the collective mind of our consumer society is dominated by the profit-making interests of the mass media."

"The evolutionary challenge is to see that the mass media are manufacturing desire, and that this is creating a psychology of mass consumption that cannot be sustained. By programming television primarily for commercial success, the mindset of our civilization is simultaneously being programmed for ecological failure."

There is a lack of reflective consciousness in the media. "The media do not hold a mirror up to themselves. The last taboo topic on television is television itself and its own practices, ethics, and priorities."

"The media focus on sensational events and personal conflicts, and generally fail to report on the really big stories of our time. In turn, if we don't hear regularly televised reports about climate change, species-extinction, resource depletion, and so on, then the general public will assume that these areas are not yet critical."

"We need to bring a loving consciousness into the mass media if we are to have a future that is sustainable and compassionate."

"Are the broadcast media being used to foster awareness of the condition of the larger world, or are the mass media largely oblivious to the big picture, inattentive to critical trends, and unmindful of where the world is headed?"

"Are the mass media being used to mobilize public attention and focus on critical choices that need our attention? Or are they used to distract the public so that we cannot focus our societal attention on critical concerns?"

"Are the mass media reactive, wildly thrashing our societal attention about? Or do the media remain relatively calm and steady in the midst of social turbulence, chaos, and distress." [10]

The answers to all too many of these questions do not paint a pretty picture of the mainstream media. Instead, "Advertising and the media establish a feedback loop for institutionalizing suffering." [11] Peter Hershock is not directing his focus so much as "what is advertised -- whether private schools or pornographic videos -- but at how advertising effectively restructures awareness." On the one hand, the media creates problems that only they are able to solve. [11]

For example, one might claim that the information revolution -- the thesis of the media -- has brought us great experiential variety and exposed us to ideas and cultures that would have otherwise been unknown. And yet, "it is no accident that many people use television to fall asleep." [11]

A fundamental problem is that the media is a one-way, supply channel. There is no allowance for response or contribution by the viewer/reader. "Our choice is utterly digital: to watch or not to watch, to pay attention or not. The initial cost of this is severe enough: an atrophy of our capacity to actively and critically engage our perceptual field. But the longer-term cost is perhaps even more troubling. We are being trained to experience even the most intensely dramatic events as requiring nothing more than our attention. That is, we are being trained to remain unmoved, to feel no compulsion to take contributory action." "Our love affair with the media is, at bottom, a training program for narcissism and nihilism." [11] [emphasis added]

"Spending more than half of our waking hours in mass-media[ted] modes of awareness is a training regimen that now rivals any military boot camp in terms of imposed discipline." Addtionally, the rapid-fire cutting between scenes preludes reflection on our part. "In order to follow the thread of today's nonlinear programming, it is imperative that we not stop to think about anything seen or heard. On the contrary, the sheer volume of information to which we typically expose ourselves can not be taken in unless we unreflectively submit to its rush." [11]

It is important to realize that "the eyes move less while watching television than in any other experience in daily life." [12] The reality is that, "We don't see with our eyes, we see with our programming, and we are programmed to see stories. TV programs are made so that we don't notice the 'technical events', the details -- so that we don't pay attention. We are programmed to be unaware of the programming, the non-narrative structure and possibilities of that structure. To watch TV programs is to be lifeless and unresisting. This is the state that allows the commericals to take full effect and operate our mind for us." [12] [emphasis added]

Bernard McGrane goes on to note that "when you turn the TV on, in effect you turn the world off." The television set is seen best in a darkened room, which furthers focuses our awareness on the television set. Any external awareness -- including actual creative or discriminating thought -- is de-emphasized, and may even be thought of as a distraction. It must be recognized that "the most effective way to deflect, diffuse, and terminate a social movement is to announce that it has been achieved." " The most effective way to deflect inquiry is to present it as fulfilled." [12]

Clearly, we are not quite out of the woods yet. What is needed is a recognition of the underlying agendas of the Media, a rejection of the same, and then the wholesale reconstruction beginning with the motivational basis for anyone to go to the trouble to produce a television program or movie, or even to write material for any medium. At the same time, it behooves each of us to take responsibility for our lives, the choices of where we pay attention, and the degree of focus we allow ourselves to indulge in. Specialization has had a good run of succes -- or so it would seem -- but it flies in the face of acquiring true knowledge and wisdom which in turn requires inexorably the need for defocused and unfiltered information input.

It was pointed out by Douglas Adams -- allegedly in jest, but quite probably from a deeply and profoundly philosophical viewpoint -- that the totally unfiltered mind would be capable of receiving sufficient information so as to become omniscience. In effect, it is the reduction or elimination or our filters that promises enlightenment. Meanwhile, it is the mass media which specializes in ever more stringent filters, and thus prohibits our intellectual and spiritual growth.

In a sense, the Mainstream Media is anti-knowledge, anti-wisdom, and anti-enlightenment. "And that's the way it is."

The Good News is that media as a form of communication is still viable. For example, take a cruise at www.sign69.com. Just click on the screen -- in any number of several locations for different treatments -- after listening to the message (or before, if you're hyper). So much meaning can still be conveyed in photos, words and music. (Added 2/15/05)


Synthesis         Communications, Education, Health         ESP

 Or forward to:

Paradigms         Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys!

 Inter Net         Discrimination         Education


The Milgram Effect

Freedom of Religion        Holy War        The Rules of Holy War

Racism and Culturalism         Multiculturalism         Perils of Immigration

Free Speech         The (9) Supremes         The Halls of SCOTUS

An American Third Party         A Third Party That Knows How to Party



[1]  http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/100403F.shtml, "Study Finds Direct Link Between Misinformation and Public Misconception", Truthout Special, October 2, 2003

[2] Richard Schickel, "The Alternate Realities of Hot Documentaries", Time Magazine, July 14, 2003.

[3] Mike Gaddy, http://www.sierratimes.com.

[4] James Poniewozik, "Don't Blame It on Jayson Blair", Time Magazine, May 2001.

[5] A. Scott Berg, "The Kate I Knew", Time Magazine, July 14, 2003.

[6] Pamela Paul, Inside Business, "It's Mind Vending", Time Magazine, October 2003.

[7] Notebook, "The FCC Under Fire," Time Magazine, July 28, 2003.

[8] Daren Fonda, "National Prosperous Radio," Time Magazine, March 24, 2003.

[9] "Who's Paying Attention?", shift at the Frontiers of Consciousness, Institute of Noetic Sciences, March-May 2004.

[10] Duane Elgin, "Transforming Mass Media," shift at the Frontiers of Consciousness, Institute of Noetic Sciences, March-May 2004.

[11] Peter D. Hershock, "The Colonization of Consciousness," shift at the Frontiers of Consciousness, Institute of Noetic Sciences, March-May 2004.

[12] Bernard McGrane, "Zen TV", shift at the Frontiers of Consciousness, Institute of Noetic Sciences, March-May 2004.


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