Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Politics of Fear and Propaganda Pervade

We all have to improve our media literacy.  The Internet demands it because the traditional "authoritative voices" of professional journalism in mainstream media have all but disappeared.  The old media model of delivering eyeballs and ears is falling apart in a fragmented audience that is getting used to free content on the Internet.

Reliable news sources are being lost in the noise and sensation of  places like Fox News as they reach for ratings by pushing adrenaline inducing infotainment instead responsible professional journalism and informed in depth commentary.  We will soon have the same kind of propaganda promoting media experience with the unleashing of Fox News North.

In American politics the vitriol and anger gets even worse, but Canada is not far behind as Harper continues to use Karl Rove wedge issues in ways the divide people and pander to fear.  The political culture is beyond a conventional adversarial debate of artificial black and white issue framing that is over-simplified spin and pushed by sound bites and pithy print quotes through a compliant media.

Now the political culture is approaching fascism in some circles and with some politicians.  The spin is escalating beyond persuasion into misleading half truths and outright lies - repeated over and over for effect.  There is a cynical truism about this kind of  pathetic political "communications."  That reality is that a lie heard seven times becomes a truth to many people.  In our hyper-connected and constantly "on" world we are voluntary victims of the consequences of perpetual partial attention.  We don't read, reflect and try to understand content - especially on-line content that is becoming the dominant news source for most of us..  We merely scan and skim content for impressions and that has the effect of suspending our disbelief and diminishes our capacity for critical thinking.  We end up with more information but become less informed.

The other disturbing trend in our political culture is the use of intimidation, coercion, bullying and innuendo by those in power against public servants and public service organizations, agencies and community based volunteer boards.  Even duly elected municipal politicians and school boards are wary of bringing truth to power for fear of personal and institutional retribution from government.  We become quietly complacent and compliant and avoid using our voice for fear of "consequences."

So as an introductory lesson in media and political literacy here is an "educational" video allegedly about and from the Liberal Party in Australia.  It is a public service ad that every citizen needs to see, reflect on and remember as you get inundated with the Harper Conservative Party negative attack ads on other politicians.

(H/T to Daveberta for the link.)