The first problem with criticizing the obsession du jour is how do you tell people to ignore the Obsession du jour without drawing attention to it. This wouldn’t be a problem if we had a good media that was trying to keep the public's attention on important subjects but we don’t.
Joanne Scaglione, James Garbarino and Ellen deLara are doing research on how to prevent bullying which leads to an enormous amount of violence including school violence. If the public was aware of this they could make a lot of improvements based on decisions made with accurate research. But instead of reporting on this the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
Dorothy Otnow Lewis and Lonnie Athens have been doing research into what turns people into dysfunctional serial killers. This confirms the work done by other researchers and they have found that most if not all mass murderers have been badly abused as children and often they have also been subject to bullying and other unreasonable treatment before they became violent mass murderers. This indicates that by reducing child abuse and bullying crime can be dramatically be reduced. But instead of reporting on this the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
Jimmy Briggs and Peter W. Singer are investigating child soldiers and how to stop armies from forcing children into fighting wars. They are also investigating how to rehabilitate these children. But instead of reporting on this the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
Richard Gabriel and others have been trying to develop more improved ethics for war to minimize the damage done by it although they recognize the only true way to implement true ethics is to minimize or eliminate war. The Peace Corp, Seeds of peace, Habitat for Humanity and other organizations have been looking for more peaceful ways to settle differences. But instead of reporting on this the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton discovered the laws of planetary motion and the basics of physics. There are still an enormous amount of science fiction stories and alleged science fact stories that contradict this but instead of reminding the public of this the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
There has been a long history of floods and other natural disasters that have been followed up by research into how to minimize the damage of these disasters. Some of these researchers have worked on better ways to build secure dams when necessary that can hold up to disasters. Some of these researchers have pointed out the simple fact that if you don’t build in a flood zone you are much less likely to be flooded out. Some researchers have found ways to build earthquake proof buildings but instead of reporting on this the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
There have been plenty of studies indicating how much pollution contributes to diseases including lung cancer and many other cancers. There have been efforts to discover alternative ways of obtaining electricity and other necessities. Many of these efforts don’t involve much if any more cost than existing methods. In most case if you figure in the unacknowledged costs the existing methods are already much more expensive than the alternatives. There have been some stories about these in the media but not many mostly the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
There have been plenty of studies on the damage caused by gambling. Some people have simply looked at the fact that in order for gambling industries to make a profit they must first cover expenses then profits before returning the remainder to the winner. In stead of pointing out the obvious fact that all gambling industries are fixed the media is focusing on the obsession du jour.
Joy Behar says “Out with the old brainwashing demagogues delivering the obsession du jour in with the new kinder gentler demagogues delivering the obsession du jour.” Or something like that; those are the words I heard even if they aren’t the ones she used.
The media is keeping the naïve and intellectually lazy members if the public distracted. They are using this method to evade any rational accountability for themselves as well as the government and other institutions. They don’t completely control what people think but they do have a major influence on what subject they are thinking about at least. For many members of the public they also have a major influence on how they portray any particular subject.
This will continue to happen as long as the public allows them to get away with it. Most of the public is to naïve to pull themselves away from the influence of the Mass Media. There are some that have the independence to look for information on their own. The rest need some help at least until they develop a stringer will of their own. They may receive help from some of their friends if they are so inclined to point them in the right direction. This isn’t a guarantee since many of peoples “friends” are just as misguided as them. We need a better set of checks and balances where people listen to different points of view and a media that is at least trying to focus on the most important issues of the day and the basic principle of a large number of different subjects that are being ignored. The Mass Media is being controlled by to small a group of people and they are more concerned about manipulating the public for their own purposes than educating them.
Until the public can take the initiative to educate themselves we will never have a truly free press.
First posted on Tripod on 10/27/09