Science vs. Journalism
I have been acutely interested in the interaction between the media and science for quite some time and have based my academic pursuits on analyzing the relationship between the two. My doctoral studies in education put that mostly fractious association under the figurative microscope, and in coming months I will also be lecturing at Mount Saint Vincent University in their mass media studies for undergrads on the relationship between the media and its influence on the public. But, quite frankly, you don’t need a PhD to glean that there is something amiss between what is purported to be news and what is important in our lives. It is interesting to scroll back the decades and examine how journalism reacted and functioned then as opposed to now. The year is 1940. Europe was in the throes of the most devastating conflict yet to face humanity. Fascism and Totalitarianism under the guise of Communism were on the verge of crushing the more liberal and free societies of the world. It was a time for need of action. No words could stop these monsters. All our day to day activities of that time paled in the wake of the war. Radio and newspapers, the dominant mass medias of the time, carried the ebb and flow of not only the war, but tertiary, subordinate topics of import to the war. Changes in manufacturing, consumption, consumer goods and lifestyle all reflected the war and its impact on society. Not a day went by without references, updates and reports about the war. Day after day for almost six years we talked, thought, worked and lived around the crisis that was the war until the enemy was vanquished. Crank ahead to our society today. Humanity is again on a cusp, this time one that could quite probably lead to a global catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. At stake is the fate of entire ecosystem. Not my words, but the words, studies and conclusions of the overwhelmingly vast majority of scientists. Growth, consumption, AGW, loss of habitat, nuclear proliferation all ride with the four horsemen of the apocalypse and threaten us and our world as never before. Our media is filled with chatter about celebrity, sports, the economy, sex, violence and entertainment; ads urge us to buy, buy, buy and our religions tell us to sally for forth and multiply, as though the simple rules of science do not apply and are, in fact, subject to endless rounds of rhetoric. Today, the real crises of the world are reduced to fringe banter, vested interest obfuscation and distortion, further marginalizing need to act, forcing those who would do something to become ever shriller to be heard above the self indulgent cacophony and need to sell. What a contrast. If only Adolf, Benny and Joe had been so lucky as to have had a media so self absorbed as what we today possess, they could have sallied forth, conquered and divided with just few well placed Marks, Rubles or Lira to ad companies charged with greasing the wheels and we would have been nary the wiser, happy to sell our way of life.
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