Good morning, everyone…
Today’s topic, in a way, is something I guess you could say I’m familiar with – media. Specifically, of course, it’s about radio, but if you really think about it, the media is something we’re all familiar with.
In my case, it’s from the perspective of a semi-trained professional. For those who may not know, I have a BA degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, which is a school of about 10,000 students located two-and-a-half hours northeast of here – straight shot across I-70 to Effingham and then up I-57 to Illinois Route 16 leading into Chucktown.
I earned my degree in May 1988 – working as a sports reporter for The Daily Eastern News, the campus newspaper – and then worked professionally in such outlets as Sikeston, Missouri; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; Clemson-Seneca, South Carolina; the St. Clair County Suburban Journals; and finally, back in Charleston and nearby Mattoon for the local papers there before I was fired in May 2005.
During all that time – and in the years since – I’ve seen quite a bit of changes in the media, and for the most part, they’re not good. I could go on a talk about everything I see wrong with what I would call corporate media, but we’d probably be here until at least Wednesday afternoon.
I have a feeling Kate wouldn’t like that very much.
Think about it, though – when you turn on your televisions or radios or open up your newspapers (assuming you still read newspapers) or get on-line – what kind of news and information are you getting.
Are you getting information about what’s really going on in the city, the region, the state, nation, world? Or are you getting junk – so-called celebrity gossip, junk news, commentary nowhere near based in any sort of reality?
And think about the music you may listen to if you listen to corporate stations. It’s the same drek served up in many different ways, but no matter how it’s served, it’s still drek – no heart, no soul, no meaning.
Turn on television too, especially any number of cable networks. What do you see on there? So-called documentaries – really crockumentaries – about easily exploited subjects. Prison life. Alleged prophecies and predictions of so-called psychics. Shows about coming doom and gloom, all of which could be refuted if anyone had any inclination to do so.
Then there’s what’s called “reality” shows. Teen moms. Pawn shops. Crime shows showing alleged criminals being arrested. All full of violence, arguments, confrontations and at least two-thirds of the show having to be bleeped because of language.
There’s been allegations – and some actual documentation – that many of these alleged pieces of “reality” are really scripted and/or dramatizations – all of it beefed up – for the consumption of millions of viewers everywhere.
Yes, millions of viewers – or is that really sheeple? Ask yourself that.
Local television news isn’t really much better. Only three of our television stations – KETC, KNLC and WRBU – are locally owned. Our major-network stations are owned by out-of-town conglomerates, concerned only with finding ways of squeezing every last dollar out of them.
I grew up watching respected and loved local reporters and anchors such as Spencer Allen, Max Roby, Chris Condon. What has happened to such respected reporters such as them? Do we really need to find out what’s going on from a lot of blow-dried wannabe frat-boys and newsbabes, hired more for how they look than any REAL journalistic chops?
I’ll admit it, I’ve really become disillusioned with corporate media over the last few years. It’s why I support, with my time and money, stations such as KWMU (the local NPR station) and KDHX (the local community radio station). It’s why I search out alternative, independent sources – Internet radio stations, alternative news programs such as Democracy Now!, even listening to international outlets such as the BBC, CBC in Canada, ABC in Australia.
I’ll end these Opening Words by paraphrasing a quote from the immortal Edward R. Murrow. He gave a speech to the Radio-Television News Directors Association on October 15, 1958, about the still-emerging medium of television, and his words – which I have adapted to 2012 – still ring true today, in my opinion:
“These instruments – radio, television, the Internet – can teach, they can illuminate and yes, they can even inspire. But it can only do so to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise they are only wires and lights in a box; wires and sound coming from a speaker; and wires, lights and pixles on a computer screen.”
Good night and good luck.