Home arrow Talks - 2006 & 2007 arrow Dividing the Community

Dividing the Community PDF Print E-mail


given by John Millard

Dividing community - the media's role ( .. and our role?)

John Millard


· My thesis today ….

Dividing community - the media's role ( .. and our role in using it ?)

- let me first …. set a context in this discussion of community and communication

- … “Community – its unity its health – its harmony” is only as good I suggest as the quality of its Communication - the effectiveness / the openness / the honesty of its “Communication” ( just like a marriage ) .. but how do we rate the quality our community’s communication today ?

I could easily argue that its delivery is far more sophisticated in its coverage today and more voluminous in its output that ever before … but is it quality
… the real sharing of beneficial info ? … interaction ?… the exchange of ideas and knowledge ? … the truth of its content ?

- Because a community that it well informed and truthfully informed is

- less ignorant and holds less fear of the unknown … less fear of difference

- its more empowered ... its people have more ‘ownership’ in its decisions … decisions effecting us and the environment we live in

- …. more efficient / functional / adaptable to changes and challenges

- it is perhaps therefore healthier … more harmonious

- … dare I say happier….

- … but lets narrow this discussion to the Media’s role effecting the quality of communication in our community today

Media trends

· I believe its influence in enormous … coverage wider than ever …. methods and forms … a wider range than ever … content flowing through larger pipe and at faster speeds than ever before.

· Another important aspect of this trend is that we in our community are communicating more via these flash new info delivery methods – radio, tv, computer, mobile where we sit in our homes in pseudo communities. We do so at the expense of our time to gathering to communicate in community groups, markets, meetings, art, theatre music and talking over the back fence – real personal community interaction. It is not hard for me to see which of these two communities is more experienced in personal interaction, conflict resolution. is the more accepting of neighbours, of religious difference or multi-cultural diversity.

I would ( perhaps controversially) suggest that Technological progress does not by itself contribute to the enlightenment of humanity or the harmony of its community … it is only ‘people’ and their wise use of it who will determine that …. and wisdom is too often highjacked by greed in the exploitation of Tech progress …

· consider the community harmony of the worlds most tech’ advance country - yes its made the rich richer … but also the poor poorer … is its communities more united and harmonious ? (lets not mention to its community’s environment)

· So what I am saying is that tech’ progress can be as readily put to bad, divisive purpose as it can to good.

So how is our modern powerful media put to use and what do we choose to consume of it …. How does it unite or divide us ?

· Corporate media interests and their conglomeration, is seeing editorial responsibility and the public interest being progressively undermined by corporate commercial vested interests – maximising the dollar earning … don’t let the truth or public interest get in the way of earning a quicker dollar

- the result of this trend sees the board room not the news rooms making the editorial decision … and setting the journalistic culture … no directives are required … the journalist, like anyone else, needs her or his job and knows what the boss wants that will please … and rate

- corporate cost-cutting has seen journalists and researchers being axed, forcing the replacement of investigative journalism with press-release journalism.

· I believe that, commensurate with the growth of the PR/media management industry; of spin-doctoring, of press-release news-making, of the employment of sophisticated advertising and advertorial, our media is misinforming us more effectively than ever before

Ratings …. nothing is more important than ratings …

· In this new media world ratings are everything …. the advertising and product-sale-dollar-earned, rises and falls on the station’s program ratings …. ( that goes for the ABC as well … but that’s another story )

· Shock-jock radio stations and TV news and current affairs know that broadcasting fear and sensation can lift audience ratings and they know well that ratings are the holy golden measure of station profitability.

· Living In A Culture Of Fear
- Review by Ron Kaufman Of Mike Moores "Bowling For Columbine" …. ron captures this thesis sharply:

· If It Bleeds, It Leads. This is how television news programs (..and lets include shock-jock radio) are designed - Capture the audience with shocking and provocative news stories and keep them watching. Keep them watching right through the commercials. Keep them watching onto more news … with a specific goal to Make money for the TV network.

· News programs do serve the purpose of bringing valuable information to the viewer. However, the amount of violence that appears on television in an average nightly newscast is far beyond the actual amount of violence that occurs in normal life. The result -- is fear

· In America, we live in a culture of fear. Fear of violence. Fear of disease. Fear of war. Fear of the weather. Fear of our neighbors. Fear of the unknown. Television news drives a lot of this fear.!

· ...and as Marilyn Manson put it … the media wants to take it and spin it, and turn it into fear, you're watching the news, you're being pumped full of fear, there's floods, there's AIDS, there's murder, cut to commercial, …. the whole idea of 'keep everyone afraid, and they'll consume.'

· … and employing fear and sensation includes the growing trend and divisive broadcasting behaviour of provoking the audiences more racial and religious prejudices to the point of inciting community violence – promoting a lynch-mob mentality as we saw with Cronulla riots.

· Yes it seems a very sick fact to think that this cold commercial motive is allowed to play out in a way that can so effectively erode our precious and wonderfully diverse community harmony.

· And where are our leaders ? They are in the best position to quell this community volatility ? …. well ! they’re rushing to the media only too willing to play the race or religious card to win populist votes … each trying to trump the other with yet more divisive rhetoric, with the media only too happy to choose the most sensational … all for ratings.

· It is, I suggest, informing us less of the things that are most important to us - I can only point you to the facts that:-

- elections are being fought and won nowadays more in the media and more on lies, sensation, sledging, wedge politics and the size of your advertising budget rather than on the truth, transparency and comprehensive detail.

- An unfortunate trend in the reporting of national and international multicultural conflict is to reduce and simplify quite complex issues into black/white ... right/wrong stories exploiting racial and cultural stereotypes ..... the media likes it that way … and so it seems do we the audience.

To end … Having said all this and damned the media and its greedy divisive tendencies ….

· Pointing the finger at the broadcasters and not at we its willing audience who pay its bills, might just be missing the point.

· What of our role ? ...

· What is in our nature to turn on in our millions and stay watching in support of programs that unrealistically and untruthfully exploit fear, sensation and multi-cultural disharmony ?

· Do we want to see our harmonious communities become violent ? ... I think not.

· So if we make up the ratings and we vote in our politicians what are we getting wrong ?


< Prev   Next >