The Human Animal is still building up, but one of the features is to analyze what people are talking about versus what they should be talking about. By people, I mean the media, because people really just talk about what the media decides they should be talking about. The human animal (that’s us) is extremely susceptible to our environment. There’s a fine line between hypnotic suggestion and marketing. It’s not the conspiracy theory voodoo that was talked about in the 1970s when people played rock and roll backwards. This is massive marketing firms understanding not just what people want, but how to make people want what they’v got. That’s the magic fast food companies use to convince you to put toxic waste in your mouth. It’s how merchandising companies get you to buy cheap plastic crap, throw it away, and buy more, all the time. Especially among us atheists, we value our individualism. Don’t flatter yourself. Watch daytime TV for a month, and you’ll have a brain full of relationship problems and payday loans.
But I digress. The media, and that’s a major enterprise (snip rant about Rupert Murdoch owning all of it) that is redeemed only because, through the internet, we have access to all of it rather than just some of it. If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention, or the media has pulled the wool over your eyes. Media enterprises like The Young Turks and The Daily Show and even the Economist put us in mind of important world issues. But those aren’t actually media outlets. I’m irritated frequently as the Daily Show spends most of an episode making dick and fart jokes instead of talking about Ferguson riots with the occasional dick and fart joke. I see a lot of good stuff from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, but it’s behind an HBO firewall, so only clips…
What’s your go-to spot for news? Put it in comments.
Occasionally, on Tuesdays normally, we’ll review what the media thinks is important. By ‘the media’, I’ll pull from Fox, MSNBC, CNN Intl, and BBC World. Our ‘control group’ is Al Jazeera America. I’ve done this for a while, pre-THA, but I start the review publicly today because everyone is about the Ferguson Riots. One lead story on all these outlets is extremely uncommon. But it’s interesting to analyze. MSNBC has full-color spread. BBC is more text-based. But looks closely. MSNBC and Fox “Torn Apart” and “Chaos”. Both have scenes of violence. The international outlets, CNN and BBC talk about the verdict a bit but just have pictures of flames. More sensationalism. Al Jazeera goes a different way. A report on the verdict and a picture of mourning. It’s not military policy versus violent rioters. AJ gets to the core of the issue – the people who were there yesterday and who will be there tomorrow, minus one. Minus a lot more than one if we remember the ongoing nationwide killings of inner city youth, by each other and by police. But AJ remembers that today’s fires started because of the history in the town and will die out, leaving real people with the same issues. Today’s Winner: AJ.
It’s also interesting to look at the second-tier stories below the lead. Fox: Obama Immigration, UVA Rape, Marathon victim returns. CNN: More Ferguson, Cricketer injury, Errant tweet. NBC: All Ferguson. BBC: Pope on aging Europe, Ebola. AJ: Iran talks, NYC school diversity, Police misconduct. Special mention: AJ story on call for clergy to support peace. These are all stories that could have at least been closer to the top story. Iran talks are probably the most important but hard for the US to do anything. The UVA Rape issue or the AJ police misconduct story are probably the most actionable and worthy of putting in the public eye.
The first annual THA Squirrel! Award for vacuous journalism goes to … CNN for headlining an errant tweet. (no I’m not linking the story.) But the I do recommend the quality stories linked above on college rape, police misconduct, and the place for clergy including humanists to advocate for peace and police reform in Ferguson. For example, James Croft is humanist clergy in Missouri and spoke about police and protesters.