Ignorant and Gullible Mainstream Media
One of the most important contributions of the Internet to our civilization is that it individualized – and continues to individualize – the gathering, production, and distribution of information. Some academics and researchers call this trend “media demassification.” Whatever the term, information communication technology inevitably allows and leads to the individualization in the processing and spread of open source intelligence, new intangible technologies (e.g., proprietary software, open source software, etc.), social networks, and all kinds of mediated information.
Today, the existence of the Internet and new media technologies allows people to maintain constant interface with media users in countless social networks, produce and post personalized or home videos on video-sharing platforms (e.g., YouTube, Veoh, Fotki, MyVideo, Vuze, etc.), and published blogs. This important development in the 21st century inevitably led to what Karl Marx called “creative destruction”, a situation wherein new and creative developments in one economic sector would inevitably lead to the destruction of traditional or previously created productive forces. For instance, the advent and rise of the Internet, computers and digital technologies led to the destruction of old technologies such as typewriters, electric typewriters, manual SLR, film cameras, among many others.
The rise of digital news platforms and blogs in recent years posed potential threats to traditional media, e.g., television, radio and newspaper. In a brief speech I delivered to our campus organ readers in 2006, I made a prediction that the Internet would give the newspaper industry a run for its money. My statement elicited disapproving gasps and negative reactions from our guests who were mostly alumni and editors of well-known newspapers in the country. More than two years later, we learned about the closure of many newspaper establishments in the United States and some western countries due to declining readership.
In the Philippines, many established newspaper companies struggle to survive by providing alternative news sources on the world wide web. The Internet is now rapidly being adopted as the primary source for information in the workplace. When news breaks during the day, expect working people to turn to online news. More and more people in the workplace utilize the net as primary news media source. Unlike traditional newspapers, the Internet provides timely, accessible, and interactive news information. Online news readers are allowed to make comments, post letters to the editor, contribute photos, videos and even opinions, among others. For example, the news about the Japanese tragedy spread like wildfire across the globe owing to the Internet. Blogs, videos, social networks and tweets that reached millions the world over contained information about the tragedy. Only a few hours later, many Japanese who personally witnessed and experienced the tragedy shared their devastating experiences online.
One can observe role reversal during important, historic global events, wherein individual Internet users become the primary source of information. Consider the crisis in the Middle East wherein many Western media rely on social networks such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. for information. When Hosno Mubarak down the Internet in Egypt, the Egyptian people announced and supported the revolution through their mobile phones.
There are many factors why alternative media continues to grow and expand. One of these factors is patent media bias or the failure of the mainstream media to provide objective, impartial, accurate, intelligent information to the public. For instance, the rise of liberal media in the United States led to the proliferation of many alternative media sources that spread the virtue and importance of individual freedom, individualism, and free market system. Examples of these pro-capitalist alternative media are Reason.com, Capitalismmagazine.com, Pajamas TV, The Objectivist Standard, American Thinker, News Real Blog, and hundreds or thousands of others.
In the Philippines, a number of independent media organizations sprouted over the years for various reasons. Some of these independent media organizations are the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Newsbreak, Vera Files, among others. However, many individual journalists and bloggers have joined the online bandwagon, posting alternative news sources, political and economic opinions, alternative news on different issues, videos, etc. One of these individual or independent sources is The Vincenton Post, which is engaged in the promotion of reason, individualism, and capitalism in the Philippines.
The death of the mainstream media is now inevitable. The rise and domination of new technologies is not merely technological and scientific; it is primarily intellectual and philosophical. The advent of the Internet introduced a new trend, a new culture, a new mindset, a new way of life. Unknown to most of us who benefit from these new technological wonders, a number of great, heroic battles, which involved the men without whom internet technological innovation and progress would not have been possible, took place and are taking place behind our computer monitors. Internet giants and corporations like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and hundreds of developers and innovators who fight for their intellectual property rights against technocrat looters and government intervention. These are not reported by the mainstream media simply because many professional media practitioners either took these issues for granted or are ignorant.
Ignorance in the mainstream media is also very much apparent and alarming. Consider the case of Japanese nuclear tragedy, which has been on top of the agenda of many media organizations both here and abroad. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Manila Times, Philippine Star, including some of their columnists, have joined the fear-mongering bandwagon, as they did miserable reporting on the potential impact of the dreaded nuclear meltdown and radiation on our health. As a result, some group of evil-intentioned people, who capitalized on the mainstream media’s fear-mongering agenda, spread scary text-messages about the tragic, uncontrollable nuclear situation in Japan which, they said, could affect the Philippines and the rest of the world in just a matter of days.
Luckily, there were knowledgeable people and individual bloggers/vloggers who posted informative blogs and video blogs about nuclear meltdown and radiation so to correct the flawed, ignorant information spread by the ill-informed people in the global mainstream media.
The popularity, viewership/readership, and reputation of the mainstream media is now on the ebb owing to a number of factors, such as corruption, bribery, media biased, factual and reporting errors, cheap programs, ignorance of some media practitioners and their gullibility.
Consider the case of a Philippine Star columnist who achieved online popularity overnight due to her “gullibility”. This columnist, Carmen Pedrosa, published an opinion piece titled The Most Gullible People in the World-Harvard. Pedrosa fell for a faux online news story about a fake study conducted by Harvard Institute of Socio-Political Progression, which reported that Filipinos were the first among “the world’s most gullible races”. She might have been duped by the Mosquito Press, but still she made a very good, based-on-experience evaluation. Pedrosa concluded: “We are gullible because we are not able or do not question information. We prefer to believe what other persons tell us.”
Now consider the case of an arrogant yet ignorant columnist of The Manila Times who tried to lecture anti-Reproductive Health bill Filipinos on the basic concepts of secularism, separation of Church and State, and the meaning of “pro-life”. This media practitioner named Buddy Cunanan wrote the following in his pro-RH bill column: “Sadly, the RH Bill controversy reveals that many Filipinos, even those who have attained higher education, are either misinformed or ignorant about the basic concepts of secularism, separation of Church and State, and the meaning of “pro-life”. Amazingly, many anti-RH Bill proponents who commented on my column saw absolutely nothing wrong with the Church’s blatant lobbying and politicking and other religious activities such as celebrating masses in government offices.”
However, it appears that the opinion writer himself is the one who is so ignorant of the basic concepts of secularism, separation of Church and State, and the meaning of “pro-life”. In regard to this matter, I debunked Mr. Cunanan’s very sophomoric, sophistic, and simplistic evaluation of these concepts in a previous blog entitled Pro-RH Bill Buddy Cunanan’s Cosmic Display of Ignorance.
Furthermore, the disgusting, deplorable case of noontime show host Willie Revillame shows the level of depravity and mediocrity of some people in the entertainment industry. While I don’t agree that the government must intervene in this matter by unleashing the intrusive powers of the DSWD, the Human Rights commission, and other government agencies, I believe Willie, particularly Channel 5 and its CEO (Manny V. Pangilinan), failed to police and self-regulate their noontime show. Willie’s program shows utter disrespect for the poor, women, and even children. His show is a concrete example of media programs and institutions that glorify the ‘common man’ and mediocrity.
I don’t believe that the government must intervene in this issue. The TV station’s management must make the right decision, and it should be the right decision so to preclude the government and some of its agencies from promulgating rules that would limit their freedom to produce and air shows and programs. For the sake of preservation of free speech and freedom of choice in the entertainment sector, Channel 5 has to fix the damage done by one of its major talents.
With the continued domination of new communication technologies, individual bloggers and independent journalists are out to confront and mercilessly deal with the Ignorant and the Gullible in the mainstream media. The good thing is, people in the mainstream media can still afford to be ignorant and gullible now that the tech-savvy people are no longer paying attention.