Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reading Between the Lines: The News or Propaganda

During the 60s and 70s in the United States of America there was a cultural revolution. This cultural revolution awakened and fueled the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the Gay Rights movement, the anti-war movements, and several other movements that worked within the framework of the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, to include those who were unconstitutionally excluded from the democratic process. One of the main vehicles for this revolution was the news media.
The news media simply covered the speeches, marches, protests, wars, and so on, and reported what they saw objectively, allowing those who watched to make up their own minds about what was happening. This, according to Thomas Jefferson and several people of his time, was the job of the media. Thomas Jefferson and many of the writers of the constitution recognized that an uninformed population could not participate in democracy. The encouraged the production of several types of newspapers with low cost postage so that varying opinions could be distributed.
They theorized that the public, after watching several points of view and having several discussions, could then use their democratic power to pass information on how to better manage the country up, instead of ways to manage the country being passed down. This concept may seem odd, and downright revolutionary. The only reason this is the case, however, is that the news and the media are no longer doing their job. If they were, I would not be the first one letting you know this. During the Reagan era in the 80's, the laws that didn't permit corporations to monopolize by buying up all the media were abolished to the point that there are only now six corporations with interchangeable boards owing all of the media.
These articles, therefor, are articles about how you may discover the truth about the news. You can discover what is happening behind the scenes and what kind of propaganda that the news media is pushing by simply watching and remembering. Watching them and seeing what they are saying or not saying, and remember the previous messages you have heard in the news the same day, or even months ahead of time. We will be going over many complicated concepts, but as we take them step by step, over a period of time, they will be completely understandable. The first concept that we will discuss actually comes from a type of biblical criticism that is used to determine what various scripture and stories in the bible seem to be trying get across and what they aren't. This is called Narrative Theological Criticism.
Even though it has to do with the bible and all of that, this type of criticism can be applied to any type of literature. What is the news, except for spoken literature? First we will go over the process of all theological criticism and then Narrative criticism. The root concept concerns what is known as a hermeneutic circle. It goes like this:
Whenever we read something and try to get information from it, we should know at least three things. One thing is about the context in which the information is written. What kind of people wrote it? What are their belief systems? What are their biases? What point are they trying to get across? In other words, what is their agenda?
The next thing is to understand our context. What do we bring to the text? What is our belief system. What is the belief system of the place in which we live? Where are our biases? How can they influence what we here?
Lastly we understand what the text actually says. What is the written and literary meaning of the text? If we can understand these three things it is very possible that we can understand what the text actually says. We can understand what the message is actually saying. As we do this we change and our understanding changes, so we begin to get a deeper, more truthful understanding of the text--in this case, the news.
As we watch the news, we need to begin to understand the context. Where do the news casters get money? What stations are they on? What is their point of view? What are their biases? What happens if they speak out against the interest of those who are paying them?
We should also work at understanding what we bring to the text. What are our biases? What type of stereotypes have be been subjected to when it comes to Gay people, minorities, women, Arabs, Communists, Koreans, and so on? These stereotypes, of course, shape our beliefs about these people on a subconscious level. What ones do we have and how are they interpreting what we see in front of us on the news?
Lastly, what is the news actually saying. Is it setting up new stereotypes, or purposely playing on the stereotypes and biases we have? What is the news not saying? Are we hearing points of view that are totally the same, stated two different ways, or are we hearing apposing points of view? Or apposing points that have consensus when it comes to what we should do? More importantly, are the questions for any good story being answered? All good stories should answer the questions who, what, when, where. Many newscasters are good at answering these questions, but they are not very good at going deeper. They are not good at asking why, and how? These two questions are the most important. If they do not ask these questions and provide answers for them, it is most likely they are not doing good reporting. They are simply trying to stop us from thinking deeply by supplying us with answers that make us guilty of surface thinking.
F. Scott Peck wrote about the problem with many people in our day being surface thinking. He said that the mind is somewhat like a muscle. If we use it and think a lot, thinking deeply becomes easier. If we do not think a lot, it becomes more and more difficult and uncomfortable until we cannot think anymore. We may even become angry if we are forced to think deeply. I would dare suggest that much of the media, news and also movie, is providing us step by step with simple answers, so that it is difficult for us to think now. It is important, therefor, to read between the lines. When we hear a story, whether they provide the answers or not, it is important for us to ask, internally, why? Why is this happening? Why would this person do this? Why is this story on right now? And also how. How could these people do the things of which they are accused.
As we do this we will begin to think more deeply and will understand that the news that we think is so informative is just a propaganda machine for the six corporations that own 98% of the print, radio and TV media, and the advertisers that pay for their services. If the news program you watch interviews people asking the question why over and over again until it is answered and presents you with those answers, it is very likely that you are looking at a very good news program.
In our next article we will discuss Narrative Theological Criticism, which states that the writer of the narrative is purposely trying to pass on his or her information to you and the text is only a vehicle to do so. We will see how the same principles apply to all forms of news. I hope that you will enjoy this article. Most of the enclosed information can be found in our book: A Return to Being Human Religiously, by Dr. John W. Gilmore. This book can give you the tools to free yourself from social conditioning and surface thinking so that you will have complete understanding about the western frame that influences all of our thinking.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who needs T.V. News, Newspapers and Radio News?

T.V. and radio News got you down? On-line current events and News blogs make being informed a much more enjoyable experience. For many the News on television has become a trying time of the day. Focused mainly on negative events, you may have to wait through the whole program just to hear the one story you were waiting for. If you miss the 6:00 p.m. show, waiting until the late night segment can be a real drag, especially if you've got a lot to do, or have to wake up early the next morning.
My friends, there is an answer to this problem: News blogs or on-line current events. You can find all of your favorite broadcasters (E.g.: CNN, BBC) on the Internet, getting up-to-date information at any time of the day or night. You can even read personal journal entries written by multiple correspondents out in the field reporting on several different stories down to the current minute. Instead of hearing all News from one voice (often an irritating one), now you can read different human opinions straight from the scene of interest.
Often News on-line has a section called "themes" which allows the reader to only hear about the specific areas that interest them. No more waiting through several wars to get to the positive story about the current medical breakthrough that could mean a cure for disease, or the technological idea that might mean the end to extreme pollution levels. Like a newspaper, you can go straight to the "jobs" theme and search through all the current employment vacancies available. If you are obsessed with the negative, themes such as "Disaster and Tragedy" and "Crime and Punishment are still readily accessible.
As the News is now on the Internet it has also become an interactive experience in numerous ways. First of all now you can send News stories straight to the News companies yourself! If the story is deemed worthwhile and verifiable, you may even be published. This is also the case with photographers who have pictures of important events. It really means anyone can become a part of the action as a freelance consultant. Some News on-line have "witness" sections where you can tell your story if you happen to have been in the right place at the right time. This option means that we can hear many different views on contentious issues giving a wider perspective to the 'big picture'.
Some News sites also have interactive sites within. For example, on the BBC News Blog there is a learning site (BBCi Learning) that involves interactive activities and over half a million pages of factual information and resources available for children, adolescents, and adults. There are competitions and all sorts of games to help educate people in any and every area of interest imaginable.
Another great aspect of these on-line News sites is the ability to access archival information. You can watch video and listen to audio recordings of famous historical stories right on the computer. If the day is Feb.3, you can read articles from Feb.3's from fifty years ago. Looking up any date and year recorded is as easy as pushing a few buttons.
Some services have subscriptions where instead of looking up the website, the News you want is sent straight to your email. Being in the know, and being in the now, has never been such an objective, enjoyable, and simplistic experience as in the 21st century. Partaking in a new perspective on life is what on-line current events and News Blogs are all about.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Trending Topics and News

In the modern world information occupies an important aspect of the everyday life. No wonder we call it the information age. Information on every aspect of life, be it business, education, current affairs, sports is influencing our daily life. Business trending news helps traders make decisions about their holdings. Top news on current affairs affects the currency and the commodities market. Sports news can lift the morale of an entire nation. News and news sites thus pay an important part in our life.
The social media is very helpful here as they help to see trending news, meaning the top news, which is the most interesting to people. These trends enable people to see what's happening without being exposed to the entire sea of information. Trending news usually helps to understand what the world is doing and which way the events are moving to shape the world.
The era of the Internet and web 2.0 enabled people to share their experiences and express their feelings. This enables us to know and share details that were impossible to be done. We have a means to know how hot it is inside the Sun or what it actually looks on the surface of Mars. Our knowledge and our perspectives have changed and so has the way we live in society.
Twitter and Facebook has brought us closer to each other. In a connected world everybody is literally just a click away. Social networking has helped us to share top news with our friends and family in a flash. Moreover, trending news often travels by news sites, making the work of journalists a bit simpler. As soon as something happens, like that terrible disaster in Japan, everybody starts looking for the news on the topic, it goes to trending news, and starts its journey from one website to another.
Trending news are better disseminated using social networking sites. Often news is first shared on social media than on regular channels. When users starts sharing information with each others they become a snow ball which quickly gathers momentum and forms top news. Social media is a treasure house for news and updates from friends and can help to keep in touch with what&rsquos the buzz at the moment. Staying behind is not an option and if one does not follow the buzz that is exactly what happens. Following twitter and other social networking sites as such helps in staying abreast with the latest and thus staying with the buzz.