Media in the U.S. and XXX

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The media plays a major role in shaping people’s opinions about the rest of the world. Unfortunately, global media ownership has dwindled from 50 (in 18) to currently about nine mega-corporations, including AOL Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, News Corporation and Viacom, resulting in an increasingly banal and parochial selection of news and issues for the American public. Foreign news is lacking except in the events of disasters, wars or ruffled American interests. The industry has become more interested in profits than responsible journalism.

For example, the systematic and illegal purging of many thousands of voters (mostly democrats) in Florida during the 000 presidential election was reported by BBC but given a complete miss by American mainstream media until months after President Bush’s inauguration. In an on-going lawsuit, two reporters accused FOX of firing them for their refusal to air a story containing inaccurate information. The story, describing the dangers of the widespread growth hormone use by dairy farmers, was ultimately slanted by FOX to protect its advertising revenues. While a lower court jury ruled in favor of the reporters, a Florida Appeals court later overturned the ruling on the grounds that it is technically not against any law to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast!

For the past decade, the U.S. media has been increasingly reluctant to question governmental policies, unless one were to consider Monica Lewinsky, which was and should have remained the domains of tabloids. Before Sep 11, the U.S. media was obsessed with Monica Lewinsky, then “Survivor”, followed by Chandra Levy. Journalists concerned about real reporting do not survive for long. Bob Parry, who uncovered the Iran-Contra scandal in the 180s, lost his job at the Associated Press. There was no mainstream-media exposure about the Niger-Uranium Scam until the search for WMDs in Iraq proved futile (although the forgery was widely reported on internet news websites months before the war began).

In post-11 America, important questions about American war on terrorism or even 11 have been suppressed in the name of patriotism. For example, the mainstream media dare not question about the lack of investigation into the abnormal purchase of put options on American and United Airlines’ stocks just before September 11. Politically Incorrect” talk show host, Bill Maher was fired for being politically incorrect when he commented that the U.S. was cowardly dropping bombs from high altitude. University professors have been threatened with dismissals and violence for their “non-patriotic” comments about governmental policies.

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XXX’s media itself has been much Americanized locally produced shows (except perhaps “YYY”) reek of American influence. Indeed, we have to be careful not to fall into the same insular trap. This is difficult since our foreign news sources come partly from these media mega-corporations. Besides, the American media is not limited to its news. Hollywood movies are often stereotypical (subtly at best) and overly dramatic. While American History X brought across a strong anti-discrimination message, audiences might leave the cinema thinking that such extreme discrimination only belong to the societal fringes, rather than realizing how some of our common practices and ideas might create fertile breeding grounds for racial bigotry and extremism. For example, after the arrest of extremists in XXX, many XXX Muslims have been vocal in declaring their “moderateness”. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of drowning out voices of displeasure about our governmental pro-American stance (such as its support of the Iraq War), for fear of being labeled as extremists, thus alienating moderate anti-Bush Muslims.

However, the American influence is not limited to the media. XXX appears eager to imitate so-called American “virtues” without carefully considering whether they are necessarily to our benefits. Meanwhile, like the U.S., we, as a society has begun to equate social progress with economic growth (measured by GDP), which is of course untrue. There are thousands of unemployed homeless on the streets of New York, the center of global commerce; across America, police discrimination against blacks, profitable environmental destruction, unethical lucrative medical care coverage and privatized prison service continue to be neglected by a government obsessed with the war on terror and tax cuts for the rich. And yet, coincidentally or not, in economically poorer XXX, our societal problems are also less severe.

But we have to be careful, for we seem to be treading on the still-fresh footprints of America � such as our growing income disparity and rising divorce rates. We must contemplate whether such societal problems are INEVITABLE in an economical structure that lauds and rewards individualism and profit maximization, which when practised to the extreme, become the baser qualities of human nature selfishness and greed. Sometime between independence day and 00, GDP has slowly taken prominence over social development. Our economy has become the end rather than the mean to societal growth; our people becoming mere numbers in the context of the much-touted globalized economy. While it is admirable that our government has demonstrated (or claimed) the ability to see the overall economic picture, to the public, especially the poorer folk � through areas such as tax and transportation fees hike during the recent economic doldrums � the government seems to have lost its personal and human touch.

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