Mark Ulyseas – ‘Faction’ news and the antisocial media

Street food : Doughnuts on sale in Phnom Penh. Pic/MU
Street food : Doughnuts on sale in Phnom Penh. Pic/MU

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‘Faction’ news and the antisocial media by Mark Ulyseas

I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people. 
– Joseph Pulitzer

I know it’s true, oh so true
‘Cause I saw it on TV
John Fogerty, I saw it on TV

Perhaps the most dangerous development in the last few decades has been the infiltration of media into our homes, contaminating our perception of reality. Opinions, fact and fiction are expertly blended to form faction news that is canned, labelled the truth by spin doctors and then sold to the unsuspecting public.

Could it be that most news media companies have become whores, offering their services for a price? And that many journalists working for these whores have become pimps by reporting the news subjectively to create a luscious digestible product… news garnered any which way to seduce viewers/readers (e.g. News of the World)?

The social media is antisocial for it is now a platform for faction news passed off as real news. Hearsay mingling with faction news creates a delectable offering for suckers searching for the truth. To transform gossip to news one has merely to post a story with a ‘nice’ photograph pilfered from the Net. It is said that this method is being effectively utilised by proxies of many media outlets. News has now become an integral part of ‘trends or trending’. Reporting the news truthfully is the exception rather than the rule. But who cares?

Governments have been using sections of the media as a surrogate mother to breed disinformation prompting self-appointed gendarmes or monitors of truth to quickly seize upon this. Often these righteous folk have added their own interpretation of the truth thus creating misinformation. This is a vicious cycle that is spiralling out of control. It has morphed into an insidious form of ‘news invention’, giving creative writing a whole new meaning.

NBC anchor Brian Williams has been untruthful about his Iraq experience. Bill O’Reilly American television host, author, columnist and political commentator, exaggerated about his time as a war correspondent. And so it goes. But why should we be surprised? After all this is commercial media, they have to pay the salaries. So where does the money come from? The advertisers, of course.

Advertisers now influence editorial content in many media companies. Politicians are promoted or demoted as the case may be. Furthermore, multinationals that have operations in countries with serious human rights’ abuses ensure that such news is either non news or hidden in the fine print somewhere in the reams of reportage. For instance, a breathless media reported about the Ebola virus. But how many have reacted in the same manner when pharmaceutical companies have tested drugs on unsuspecting men, women and children in Africa and other parts of the world?

The Ukraine story is a classic example of news media taking sides. Reportage from CNN and RT are conflicting. Some say the camera never lies but nobody said the journalists can’t. It is all in the imagery, the soundtrack and the words…all neatly spliced to converge on a single track of deception.

So where is the news that is reported truthfully without being spiced by agendas? Does it exist?

In the last decade or so another group has joined the bandwagon of spin doctors – the terrorists.

During its bloody confrontation with Israel, Hamas used the media and the antisocial media by flooding the ether with images of mangled bodies and injured children lying in the streets. However, they threatened, cajoled and even banned reporters attempting to cover other aspects of the conflict like rockets being fired from residential areas, children being used as human shields etc. Sympathetic media persons played along with this fraud. Also, the media covering Israel’s actions did not reflect the whole truth.

Al Qaeda, the master at playing the media, is now usurped by the slick promos of ISIS that has been picked up by mainstream media. This has actually helped promote the devious machinations of this ‘horror’ group. The impact has been felt in faraway countries from where people including teenagers have left their families and travelled to Syria to fight alongside butchers incorporated.

The media has fallen into the trap of promoting this group by headlining all news (invented or otherwise) of its activities including acts of beheading, crucifixion, burning alive etc. By giving this ruthless organisation centre stage on prime time television in a bid to increase viewership the media has inadvertently played a pivotal role in its (ISIS) promotion. Hence, bad news is good news for it brings profits with higher ratings. So who are the real terrorists? ISIS or those using it for commercial purposes?

There is much truth in what Carl Bernstein says: “We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal…Our news organizations and our reporters should be going after the best obtainable truth, not the sensational, on-the-surface truth … But instead of going after the truth, we look through the lens of how much it will cost and of those who would like us not to tell the truth.”

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

© Mark Ulyseas
March 01, 2015

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