Posted on Sun, May. 12, 2002 story:PUB_DESC
Letters to the Editor

Public's obsession with
media a disservice

My concern is with the paradox of the new media. It has nothing to do with the current fascination with bias in the media, but the public obsession with the media -- or to be a part of the media.

When I dropped off my taxes I chuckled aloud when I saw the "perpetually indignant'' with their signs move into position to accommodate the TV cameras. Despite their passion, they were there for the cameras.

The same with the heroic march on U.S. Rep. Dave Obey's office in Superior to express dissatisfaction over Arab-Israeli conflict, only to have a staff member take down the message. The TV cameras were there though, and we saw that a college education will get you semi-articulate reiteration of current events into a TV camera.

Within this context, I look outward, to a besieged Arafat compound in Ramallah. The glaring presence of TV cameras helped to shape that circumstance and prevented much else from happening, while generating news at the same time. Not to miss an opportunity, the activist community joined the fray and rendered aid to Arafat. But what should be a substantial challenge to their motives and credibility came when one of the activists held up a T-shirt bearing the logo of his organization in front of Yasser Arafat. Again, they were there for the cameras and the cameras were there for them.

Our world rests on a fragile foundation of complexities that no amount of fairness and accuracy can do justice to.

Our society, however, is in no mood for complexity -- unless it can be explained away seconds at a time in less than 30 minutes. We get our information from an entity that exists to propagate and perpetuate itself -- and this is a greater disservice to a free and open society than I can imagine.