collapse of the Fourth Estate and the failure of the American press to
perform the sacred mission with which it was entrusted by the Founding
FAthers is more than a scandal. It is a threat to our form of government
and threatens to bring down the entire structure of the
American Experiment by removing one of the fundamental pillars of its
The traditional role of the press; to make distant events seem immediate,
to open the eyes of the public to things they wouldn’t otherwise be aware
of, to put things into context and to demystify them so that ordinary
people can get a handle on them, and to keep politicians honest has been
a cornerstone of our free society since it’s inception.
Today, the sad truth is that most Americans spend much more time obsessing
over the latest missing blond or the emotional state of their favorite
ballplayer than thinking about the thousands of men of principle (just
because we don’t share those principals doesn’t mean they don’t exist)
who have committed their lives to killing as many of us as possible while
destroying our country and everything it stands for, or the thousands
of innocent men, women and especially children who are dying EVERT DAY
in genocide and famine in hellholes like Niger, Dafur, and the Sudan.
Well heck, it is a lot more FUN to worry about Manny or Jennifer, and
anyway, who really understands what is going on in Africa, much less what
to do about it? It’s depressing to even think about it!
For better or worse, this is the way a majority of Americans think. In
the final analysis, this is the responsibility, and critical historic
failure, of the American Press. The modern Media Monopoly into which the
American Press has morphed has failed abysmally in its traditional responsibility
to explain and expose the issues of substance to the general population.
What made the American system so revolutionary 250 years ago, and remains
so today, is the proposition that the PEOPLE are WISE, in their aggregate
judgment, and have an uncanny intuition as to their true interests in
almost any situation or circumstance.
But for this intuition to come into play, they need good information;
good both in form and content. Form we do in spades – we have perfected
the presentation formats for 24-hr, always on news, TV news magazines,
boutique news on the internet, talk TV, talk radio, online chat, discussion
boards and blogs.
Ah, but the content….What is all the talk ABOUT? Who sets the agenda?
Who decides what is worthy of attention? Therein lies the rub, to paraphrase
The average, overscheduled American has only so many spare moments
in his or her day to think about things other than those directly related
to navigating between job, family and community commitments. By filling
90% of that particular precious partial attention track with mental fluff
and eye candy, the media is doing a tremendous, perhaps fatal disservice
to our very way of life.
We have, in the past, been decried for raising alarms without offering
solutions. What are we proposing the press do to make Dafur less depressing
to the American palate? We are not advocating plopping Paris Hilton down
in Mogadishu in some famine-themed reality show, or some sick game show
in which mothers of starving children beat the stuffing out of each other
for a cup of rice, but there must be some way to make the stark realities
of the world we live in palatable, confrontable, perhaps even comprehensible.
There must be some way to suggest or inspire people to find solutions
to the very real, pressing problems of our times.
People WANT to do the right thing. They just need good information and
somebody to show them where to start. If the monopoly inheritors of the
traditions of the American press aren’t up to the task, then we must find
somebody who is, and fast. The clock is ticking on the American Dream.