Happy 4th everyone!
Yesterday I wrote about listening to books on tape while knitting, but there’s something else I depend on too, for knitting, for commuting, and just for general information. NPR — National Public Radio — is an independent, not-for-profit news source. That means Rupert Murdoch’s political views won’t ever be broadcast as fact.
Consider for a moment the key phrase of the Declaration of Independence, the document we celebrate today:
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e., Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
Before the Bill of Rights existed, even before the US Constitution was drafted, the elder statesmen of the day insisted that it was the people’s right to stand up to an oppressive government. This notion of “oppression” is a tricky thing, because it is by nature so subjective. Given such subjectivity, the only possible solution is good information, and lots of it. We each, as citizens, are responsible for informing ourselves properly so that we can participate in this participatory Democracy that we Americans are so proud of.
Corporations now control most of the media in the US. We only need to look back as far as the media fervor over Paris Hilton in the past few weeks to know that the bottom line is what drives mass media these days. The idea is simple: the goal of a TV or Radio outlet is to make money, the way they do that is by selling advertising. The content of the nightly news is no longer about informing the people, it’s about turning a profit. And really, who can blame the corporations? They are simply doing what they are supposed to do – turning a profit for shareholders is their very reason for being.
So as I see it, an important way I can be patriotic is to pay attention to the news of the day – not just Paris Hilton but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the genocide in Darfur and the unfolding understanding of Global Warming. That means not only listening to NPR, but also actually giving money to support the idea of a media outlet that is not driven solely by profit.
Perhaps you don’t like NPR, maybe you find it boring, or maybe you disagree with what you perceive as a “liberal bias” in the organization. That’s fine with me. In fact, I welcome dissent because I believe that discussion of conflicts usually brings about new ideas and greater understanding of all perspectives. But please, no matter what your politics, spend some time in the next few days catching up on current events, and make sure to research the corporate ownership (or lack thereof) behind your media outlet of choice, so that you understand what drives the information presented to you.
So go ahead, reach out in whatever way you want, but please, reach out and do something.