Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mass Media And Truth

"Whatever is received is received in the manner of the receiver" is an aphorism from the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. We can change this somewhat to say that whatever is given is given in the manner of the one giving, especially when we are dealing with the mass media. We know how much the media weighs the facts with the thumb on the scale. Not  surprising, and expected, but does require wisdom  when going to the media for information and knowledge. Some media conveys more truth than others.

With Bible, has an interview with a professor in the  Press and Broadcasting Studies at the Anglican University. He was asked how does he see the present situation in Korea with the mass media. He recalls the days in 1985 and the purge of those in the media who were critical of the government. When  freedom of the press was returned in 1987 there was  growth. The atmosphere was there for a segment of the press to say what they thought was right. However, after 2008  many of those who were  connected with the government were in management positions within the mass media, and spoke for the government. Certain aspects are different but the professor says we have gone back in many ways to the pre-democratic days.

In 2009 we had a change in the law governing the press. In a democratic society the media to protect its diversity, the press and broadcasting companies were forbidden to have other business involvement. The Media Law of 2009 broke this understanding, and we have collusion with big business which are now able to own shares in the media. Alternative media is  fighting this, but they are small and the citizenry is not supporting them, so their influence is small.

How do we distinguish what is true and false? We have the responsibility and the right to search out what is the truth in the media. It is difficult to make this decision when it is only a one way transmitting of the news, and the most influential media does the distorting. There is criticism, however, and the need  for the public to compare news reports with one or two other reports, and support the news that is objective.

We have to be actively concerned with  what is  important. Each person in a  democratic society should be able to enjoy their human existence. We  have to go beyond the idea of merely helping and  protecting  the poor and have a new vision. The  professor gives us the example from a documentary (Barefooted Doctors) 2007, on the Cuban doctors who went to East Timor.

Most of the doctors who had gone to East Timor, left for their home country after a few months but doctors from Cuba did not leave. "You came to serve, why don't you leave like the other doctors?" They all, without hesitation answered:  "We did not come to serve. We are just doing our work the "East Timorese"  have a right to enjoy life." The idea of helping those who are not as well off, was not part of their thinking. This, the professor explains, is the way they were trained to become doctors. They train those who are going to be doctors at government expense. All is free. They work not as much for  money but to realize their potential as human beings, and to build a happy society.    

The professor shows us by his example the way the news is easily slanted by the news media because of their ideological positions and collusion with big business. The question he received was about free lunches in schools and the way some of the media attacked with: "Are we going to feed the rich with free lunches?" The press can use words and tone to sway the readers with the way they choose to see the world. Objectivity is not as important as pushing their agenda, and the professor gives us  the example of doctors from a poor country, who have one of the best medical systems in the world and the way they see the world in which they live. Being objective and conveying the truth is difficult, but deliberately,  when the media tries to protect their interests, and not the public interest, truth is sacrificed.          

No comments:

Post a Comment