Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19: The Death of a News Medium


(I am very late in starting this one because I was feeling unwell, most of the day.  But there is no need to send expensive gifts. Large cheques with a get well soon note on them will be quite adequate.)

The modern, cheap daily newspaper appeared in the late nineteenth century (at a cost of a cent or two). Most of them were never much good because two factors drove them. One factor was they were owned by the wealthy who, from the start used them to put forward what the wealthy wanted put forward. The other factor was to feed the ambitions of the owners. Often, both happened at the same time.

William Randolph Hearst used his newspapers to create a war with Spain. The newspapers lied to do it and, once the war started, the papers sensationalized it by glorifying the war. The American public took it all in. It was an impressive introduction to the power of the press. British publishers did the same with the Boer War. In World War One, the Canadian publisher, Lord Beaverbrook, became so influential (always pressing his own causes), that British politicians of all sides feared he might become prime minister.

Conrad Black's The Post is in the same tradition. It exists only to glorify Conrad Black - whose ego    needs a lot of glorifying - and  to forward his personal interests. His wife, Barbara Amiel, writes the same sort of propaganda for MacLean's. But the glory days seem to be ending.

Many newspapers are in financial trouble. I would like to think it's because people are fed up with their propaganda. But, alas, the truth is that sales are dropping because of the influence of TV - and almost all private TV is as manipulative and lying as newspapers are. Check out Fox News for the worst example.

Meanwhile, the papers are trying to save money by cutting staff, getting news on the cheap and, like the Irving press, printing non-news - such as the opening of a new hot dog stand. The Irving press also saves money by  assigning quite unqualified staff members to write commentaries as part of their jobs. On the same page, it uses freebie propaganda from outfits like AIMS or the Frazer Institute.

But the writing is on the wall. The newspaper is doomed. It could, perhaps, do what TV is weak at - offering analysis of the news. But there is no possibility that private ownership would tolerate honest analysis. No, the days of the newspaper are numbered.

Radio could have been a better medium for news and analysis. The CBC has done it, and quite well. But private stations have always been as bad as the newspapers - made even worse by hopelessly inadequate staffing.

All this occured to me for a strange reason. I was thinking of the Faith page. One thing the private news media have done is to convince us North Americans (and westerners in general) that they are a Christian people and, therefore, morally superior to others. One would think it impossible to do that but, in even more bizarre fashion, fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. are major supporters of Donald Trump - though I have never heard  him express a thought that could be called remotely Christian.

Western Christians have been almost constantly at war with each other and with the rest of the world, have dreadfully slaughtered and abused billions for five centuries. Within the churches, the only prominent Christian I know of to publicly question how we have behaved is Pope Francis. The Faith page might give us a clue  to understanding all this.

The Irving press has been cutting costs. And one obvious place it has been cutting is the Faith page. As well, the page is not only entirely Christian and entirely Protestant, but it is representative of only a very narrow group of Christian faiths.

And what is distinctive about this narrow group is the narrowness of its religious views. Almost all of the sermonettes are concerned with believing in Jesus in order to get saved.  In other words, it advocates a self-serving attitude towards the faith. Believe, and get a spot in heaven. Don't believe, and burn, burn, burn. That is one hell of a narrow and self-serving message.

But so far as I can tell from The Bible, Jesus was neither narrow nor self-serving. So why is Pope Francis the only one saying that we should be helping people instead of killing them? What does sending troops to Syria have to do with faith? What does winking when billionaires put their money into tax havens have to do with Christianity? George Bush Jr. lied to kill over million people in Iraq. He's also a devout believer in Jesus. Does that mean that George Bush will go to heaven - while a charitable Muslim or Buddhist won't?

Though I have often led services in the past, I  haven't been inside a church for some years.  Nor will I be until the churches become Christian. We live in a Christian world distinguished for its greed, abuse, mass murder, torture. I don't think Jesus would have allowed that to pass without comment.
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The only item really worth reading in the Irving press is a commentary by Karen Palmer "Why U.S. Doctors Want Canadian-Style Medicare: It's a Lot Cheaper".
Medical care in the U.S. is controlled by stunningly greedy drug companies, greedy private hospitals that have been known to charge a million dollars for a birth, and with very expensive insurance companies. As a result, millions of Americans live shorter and more miserably lives because they can't afford medical care. Even Obamacare is little help because much of it is based on handing out taxpayer's money to corrupt and greedy insurance companies. (Too bad Jesus never charged for miracle cures.)

Privatization of health care causes unnecessary suffering and death. There's no doubt about that.  And Obama care does little about that because it is so expensive for taxpayers to subidize a very greedy and corrupt health care system.
But have your ever seen a staff writer at the Irving press write a commentary on the success of our medicare system?  Or on the rising cost as the wealthy muscle their way into getting a piece of the action? It's under attack - by the same kind of people who don't worry about the tax cost because they don't pay any.
A reminder to the Faith page - Medicare was brought to us by a Baptist clergyman, Tommy Douglas. That's not a coincidence. Wake up, all you Christians. The game is not just about getting yourself into heaven. And if you think it is, you might not make the cut.

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Here's an interesting story. How would  the U.S. react if China kept a fleet just outside American waters on the pacific coast, and flew suveillance aircraft there? The U.S. has over a thousand military bases around the world, many close to China. How many military bases does China have around the world?

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/19/china-demands-us-military-stop-spying-south-china-sea
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And here's an interesting opinion.  Thanks to our news media, there's very little understanding that the wealthy of the U.S. are looking for world conquest. And they are prepared to risk all of us to make that happen.

As well, their political puppets have been stunningly incompetent in carrying out this policy.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/19/michael-moore-where-to-invade-next-world-hope

Interestingly, The Guardian frequently has news stories about the Trudeaus. But they, so far, are not about accomplishments. They're rather more at the gossip mag level.
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Henry Kissinger was far the most murderous advisor to U.S. presidents. His advice killed innocent people by the millions. So guess who is asking him for advice on foreign policy. Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton is also an admirer of Kissinger. Bernie Sanders is not.
That alone would decide my vote if I had one.

What's really frightening is that Trump has no idea whatever of foreign policy. Indeed, that's why he's turned to Kissinger. Trump, quite simply, is ignorant of basic principles of foreign policy. His presidency would be a happy hunting ground for those bent on  world conquest no matter what the damage and the risk. Of course, that puts him on the same side as Hillary Clinton.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44696.htm
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Here's an item our press has mentioned, but only at a gossip mag level. Karl Nerenberg adds some depth to that.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/karl-nerenberg/2016/05/trudeaus-actions-contradict-his-pledge-to-respect-parliament#.Vz3iHPCMt5w.gmail
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I think  the article below underestimates the power of money in election. It's true that money alone can't buy an election. You also have to consider factors like news media myths that nations have about themselves....  But it's also true that people without big money seldom win elections

http://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/down-the-tube/

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