When I first started writing my thoughts down and expressing myself to others by way of the media, I found myself to be outspoken at times, accusatory and demanding of those with power within the public, private and corporate sectors. Always thought that was what a citizen who cared about his community would do.
One day I asked an editor why many of my letters were not published? I was told that many of my ideas would be concerning and possibly unacceptable to those who give the media outlet investment, funds and largesse. Particularly political parties who maybe in power would find accusatory articles of their organization and their public actions questionable.
I understand the point being made. The media have been on survival mode for years, and those in power have always known how to silence some forms of opposition, have they not? The media search for the truth, what has been and will be happening presently and in the future.
The message given by this particularly clever and wise editor has been etched into my mind. The “truth” can be revealed, discussed and expressed in so many ways. A carrot instead of a hammer, a quiet suggestion instead of a loud accusation. A few precise words placed in a paragraph and what could be litigious become astute and cleverly revealing. A suggestion here, a written word there and verbal eye risen can lead a reader to what appears to be hidden, but is visible for all who read.
The media are the most powerful human tool there is, a creator, persuader, lifter of the human spirit , a destroyer and liar. A message-making propaganda machine, or a tool of human excellence, a forum for debate and speculation. Prove the truth of it, and even tyrants have to take you seriously.
Undue influence in the media. In many nations the local, state or federal governments, or private organizations or individuals invest in, hand out public and private funds to local and national media alike. Smaller media outlets have come to depend upon this largesse to survive and carry on reporting. In 2023 California gave over $25 million to local media, a state where 152 local media outlets have disappeared in two years. Since the beginning of the pandemic 2,500 local news operations have gone out of operation in America.
Not surprisingly the average American has spent only $3.16 annually on public media, in Germany that rises to $142.00, in Botswana they spend $18.38. Priorities eh? Does the truth come from public media or from media giants like NBC, ABC, you know the alphabet monopoly. One is powered by journalistic integrity and searching for the truth, while the other focuses upon ways to generate profits.
In the past 15 years 70 dailies and over 2,000 weekly news operations have gone out of business in America. 78 million Americans live in a news desert, where local news has vanished or is under control of monopolistic organizations. The Canadian Federal Government spends $1.5 billion on what is called public relations activities, much of that going into advertising messaging within CBC and local news operations.
National and local governments advertise in local news media operations, messaging the importance of local media by investing in it both indirectly and directly. The importance of government largesse cannot be ignored, and also the influence and power these organizations have upon news media who are reliant upon these funds. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation receives over a billion dollars from the federal government, its lion’s share of investment to stay operational. Various politicians attempt to stop this investment, seeing the CBC as a propaganda wing of the Liberal Party. Conservatives partner with private broadcasting, and see public airways as a means to a profitable ends.
To a Conservative, Republican or Nationalist Political Organization, local media are something to be manipulated and used, while the Alphabet Media something to assist and praise. Big Media are Big Business. Big Business is not democratic, as it reaches for one thing, and one thing only – profitable popularity. Public media and local media operations live and work within the communities they serve. In a world where the large absorb the small, where the speculative is held above the power of the truth, your local media are essentially the most valuable tool democracy has to survive in a world of tyrants, abusers and users of fake news.
Small town media have been the historical backbone of democracies planet-wide. Who gives a hoot about little Albert hitting a home run in the finals or Andre’s packaging business being in the dumper? How can you get information on where to get a vaccination, discuss the need for new local infrastructure or find out when the local fair is happening? Local media have you and appreciate your needs. What do your fellow citizens think about this issue, or that? The Alphabet Media don't care, in fact they see media as a form of entertainment these days.
Local media struggle to pay their mostly-part-time employees, often forcing media labor discussions like with TVO to lead to strikes. Who reports on the needs of those on strike, those who have not received pay raises for many years, those who endure like you the increasing costs of our marketplace? Local media give the little person a voice! That is what it is all about.
Oscar Wilde said, “In America, the president reigns for 4 years, and journalism governs forever and ever.” Newspapers are sacred artifacts of historic importance. Technology has begun changing the way you get your news, but that news leads you on a sacred quest to view, consume, think about and then opinionate your right to express yourself.