I am going to be on the front page of my local paper this week regarding the ongoing planning debacle in our village. I registered my objection to a planning application online and a journalist contacted me based on my comments. Before I knew it myself and a few friends had gathered together for a protest photo-shoot.
Everyone has a story to tell. I dare you to find one person in your life who hasn’t got a novel waiting to be written based on their life experiences or simple a story worthy of a news article. So Kate has announced she is expecting Prince William’s baby and I am already tiring of the endless headlines (bookies taking 1000/1 bets that the baby will be named Waynetta). It got me to thinking that our news agenda is dictated by a very small minority of people in the country and globally who have a huge say in what we should be considering as a news story worthy of reading, debating and contemplating. Journalists are people so they are also biased. Propaganda is everywhere and no country is free of it. As people who consume the news we are never sure what percentage of the story is accurate, how biased the story is and how trustworthy the journo’s sources are.
We base a lot of our political opinions on what we read, watch and hear. We may respect the views of our friends and family too – who may also merely propagate inaccurate reports that chime well with their overall views. To some extent we read what we want to read, choosing to discount balanced argument in favour of the point of view that we agree on.
A significant percentage of media reports are generated by pr agencies and in-house departments who are all fighting to get their brand publicity or their political point heard. That is why I am reluctant to read newspapers or online stories unless I am really needing to kill time. TV is no different in its level of biase. So the best thing to do is take everything with a pinch of salt (a bit like how you would approach the rhetoric of a politician) and accept that there is also an alternative argument, point of view, brand, company, political party etc that should also be considered. Its the best way to avoid becoming ignorant – but its not easy because a handful of journalists and editors are all it takes to influence public opinion – it can even make the difference between war and peace/ life and death.
Seeing War Horse reminded me of the shambolic communication that led to the massacres of the First World War. Rhetoric was believed and lots of young men died. (so being a journalist is quite an important and incredibly powerful job) – maybe Kate and William will submit to public opinion and call baby Windsor Wayne or Waynetta?
As usual I am blogging every day for Unicef – if you can support Unicef’s good work around the world, please visit my Unicef site.
Thanks for reading.