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The Cheap Seats

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Develop your own opinions and, what’s more, make your own voice heard.

While speeding down the super highway of the World Wide Web I glanced over at my father, who was struggling to see the screen. It then occurred to me that information is so much more easily accessible today than it was 20 years ago that we kids can’t even comprehend how extraordinary it is.

We don’t have to look through mountains of library catalogues, we don’t have to wait, and you don’t even have to talk to anybody or leave your house. If there’s something you want to know, just Google it and in a flash, you’ve got your answer; illustrated and in 12 languages.

All this information, so fast and so easy, is at the disposal of people everywhere. In fact, this generation of young people and their technological literacy might be the most educated of their age in the past few decades.

Or anyway, it should be, but it’s not, thanks to the dominant media outlets. The media, in any medium, from magazines to television to the almighty internet, is not all that it boasts to be. I ask, at what point did simply reporting the news become an outlet for manipulation?

Today, major news organizations are controlled by corporations that control everything and anything from how many ply your toilet paper has to who you may vote for in next presidential election. These televised agencies pump out sex appeal and mindless humor like mad with only a few minutes of factual news then it’s back to your ‘reality’ programming.

David Rockefeller, meeting with other powerful, wealthy men in Germany, is alleged to have said, “We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years.” This is an unverified quote, whose only source is a French periodical, but newscaster Dan Rather was very clear when he said, ““In many ways, what we in journalism need is a spine transplant.”

Evidence shows news organizations are censoring information from the public and denying the people their right to know. For example, Project Censored reports that national media have ignored growing support for impeachment of President George Bush, despite polls that show half the country supporting impeachment if Bush lied about Iraq. Maybe, of course, it depends on what you consider a lie.

What’s even scarier is that the general population, including the young people, upon whose backs the future resides, believe the tiny bit of ‘news’ they are given without any desire to glance behind the curtain. I know, it seems far-fetched, but even those folks who appear to be showing us what’s really going on (Michael Moore, Greg Palast and even the weatherman to name a few) are still just one-sided and just one opinion; they may be backed up by facts, but these facts should only influence our decisions as opposed to making them.

I strongly believe that before you take in everything that you hear that might blow you out of the water, look into it more and please, develop your own opinions and what’s more, make your own voice heard.

Dr. Lee DeForest, who pioneered the invention of the radio, had this to say about mass media: “You have debased [my] child.... You have made him a laughingstock of intelligence... a stench in the nostrils of the gods of the ionosphere.” Those are pretty strong words from the man who can be credited with the birth of mass media, but also moving as someone who must have had his idea of what the media should be ruined by those who controlled it.

If it wasn’t for real, truthful media, we might never have known about the Watergate scandal, about My Lai, or about Abu Graib. Dr. De Forest witnessed and acknowledged the incriminating effect that media had on his children, and his statement, in my opinion, still rings true today.

Television and other mediums like it are eroding the free-thinking youth culture. However, more and more young people are becoming aware of its ill content. All the time people are becoming more and more skeptical of the world that they are living in, making up their own minds, and listening to brighter minds than their own. It is becoming easier to get your hands on an independently produced film, magazine, or even website that hasn’t been tainted by the media moguls who censor what they don’t want you to know. So, the future is up to you, reader. Whether you choose to lead or follow you are contributing in some way, but just, please, be sure that it is a path that you choose, not what others have lain before you.

Our rights under the first amendment to our constitution prevents our government from abridging the freedom of the press. With so much information behind bars today, it is good for us to remember we are not guaranteed a free press, just that our government will not interfere if we have one. It is up to us to ensure that we do - by supporting those media outlets and those journalists with the courage to buck the corporate system, and report the truth.

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Author info

Hanna Hurt Hanna Hurt was a student at Clark Fork High School with an interest in film when she wrote for the River Journal. She is now a student at the University of Idaho

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