Actions Speak Louder Than Words: So Where Does That Leave the Press?

Robert Alfree (144)


Issue 10
May 2000

Another image from far away, involving the starving innocents, helpless in a war zone, enters your living-room. Yet you sit there and do nothing. Well what can you do? You cannot stop the war. You cannot make it rain. You cannot adopt all the orphans. And what is the point of sending money? No, you are powerless. Helpless even.

Shortly that is the purpose of news. The news is perhaps the central implement used to remind us that we are human and fallible, or should that read, gullible? I invite you to travel beyond the headlines. There is a sinister game in progress and we are all falling hook, line and sinker for our roles. I'm not sure that this piece is in the script, but let's overlook that for now.

Who controls the content of what passes as the news? We are told that is us, society, that demands the news to be broadcast regularly and formally to keep us informed. However, do we demand the same stories fill the news in every bulletin on every television channel, radio station and every newspaper? I find the tight regulation and constant repetition rather disturbing. It could almost pass as mass hypnosis, so subtle, that few notice it is happening.

The news reinforces the class system and makes a clear, public distinction as to who is where. Which news channel do you watch? Which radio station do you tune into? Is the newspaper you read, or carry around, appropriate for your status? Imagine the embarrassment an executives would experience should he be caaughgt reading the Sun. We all know that the Sun is for the lower, less educated class. Anyone wanting to be taken seriously is seen with a broadsheet newspaper, better still, getting it delivered to their home. How many Sun readers enjoy home delivery? The rules of the game start to become quite clear. To move up the ladder, certain social behaviour is required.

The world has millions of humans living in it, yet the news is filled with the familiar names; Diana (even after her death) Hussein, Clinton, Blair and the celebrities. How do they get themselves there? The regular man on the street can only dream of entering the news arena, however good his deed. Ironically, he has more chance of hitting the headlines if his deed is an atrocity. Maybe that is more carefully planned than is credited.

The man on the street must never realise his full potential. He must never be allowed to feel independent or important. He must never be allowed to threaten the social structure. If the press consistently fails to recognise individual contributions, the morale will inevitably slump and fewer will strive to make a difference, so those at the top dictating remain untouchable and safe. Look at how twisted the image of the ECO Warriors has become. People who care enough about the environment to stand up and be counted, are seen as trouble-makers and parasites, for we are always reminded that they are benefit claimants.

By focusing on the negative contribution, we are lulled into a need for leadership, hierarchy and law and order. Look how much fear is implanted by the news. We are lead to believe that everyone would murder, steal and fall foul without leadership and example. The flip side is that with the structure in place, we are told that everyone should strive for the same thing - to be good, respectable and honourable citizens. To humour a good citizen, a certain amount of money becomes available, thus setting the stage for money symbolising everything associated with the good citizen. If actions speak louder than words, then money speaks the loudest of all. Money gives a voice some volume.

However, there is a problem with that. Those who have some money, are so bought into the system that pretends to recognise the status and protect them from the less respectable below, that their voice will never be utilised. Society remains gridlocked, unable to further itself. The fear of losing what little you do have, cripples growth.

Those at the top dictate what society should consider important, what the correct response to a circumstance is, and how to display that you're playing the game. They also lay traps for those who threaten to get too big; such as sex scandals or financial misdealings and the like.

Just look at the numerous examples floating around to help the rest of us know what we should be aspiring to, such as the news presenters, themselves. They are non-threatening examples of respectable citizens, educated, well dressed, clean and professional. They in no way challenge the basics. The viewer will pick up appropriate behaviour from the presenters, none of whom are fact, ugly, overtly gay, transgendered, to list a few stumbling blocks.

However, who exactly is at the top? How did they get there? And, why do we all go along with them? Not everyone does go along with it. Those who do not are quietened swiftly. As a benefit claimant, and therefore a social parasite, I am in an interesting position. Having no money, I am free and have nothing socially to lose. Yet, if I say too publicly that I enjoy being in this position, at this time, I am told that I am either jealous due to my exclusion, or that I am trying to drag you down to my level. Well, no money equates to no voice, certainly no volume. Although this piece is not in the greater script of social etiquette, without any volume, it will not be heard and maky as well not exist - except, it does.

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