Sunday, March 13, 2005

Our Rita Skeeter

It's finals week, and I still haven't sent off my Harry Potter article. It is nearly done, I just never seem to find a second to put the finishing touches on it! Agh! Now my tonsills have swollen up once again!

While reading the fourth book, I payed careful attention to Rita Skeeter. She is there as a foil to the truth. (See my article once it is written). People read what she says without any way to check her facts. Her articles are biased, but how many people recognize that that have not had the misfortune of being interviewed by her? So where am I going with this?

I thought I would throw out a post about the news. I was reading the New York Times this morning and they had a lengthy article on video news. I've been hesitant to get any of my news from the television as I always felt it to have a certain bias that the written paper never incorporated. I'll watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but only after I read at least the New York Times. The article this morning confirmed my suspisions that the media was controlled in a large part by the government in the sense that money exchanges hands and the news is then given certain slants, it also explained how this was done.

Apparently what happens only sometimes involves money changing hands. However, the larger key is that the government is producing the actual news segments, keeping down broadcasting costs for the actual media. Now I understand why the news so rarely reported on the troubles accompanying the Bush Administration (and the Clinton one as well). It was because the Administration was creating the clips with no regard to the criticisms on controversial subjects.

If one reads the whole article, including pages 5 and 6, they will see how such segments were used to affect how people thought about the war in Iraq post 911.

When the American people don't know who is feeding them information, we leave ourselves open for manipulation (can you say brainwashed?). We deserve to know the sources of news stories and this is a necessity in becoming well-informed voters. When we are denied the right to know these things, our democratic process is reduced to that of a joke. For how can one have a fair election if a good portion of the population is being fed propaganda mocked up as news stories.

I am reminded of the pamphlets sent to many American's that said that if Kerry was elected he would ban the Bible. Kerry is Catholic; he is not about to ban the Bible. Yet people believed the pamphlets because they didn't pay attention to the source or ask themselves why they would receive such pamphlets. Imparticular, much of the less educated folk in our country were targeted by these pamphlets because those whom made it knew that the people wouldn't ask enough questions.

That too makes a mockery of our election. I think that the news and the government are not the only ones at fault in this game. We need to learn to check where we are getting our information, and we need to be granted the right to know where all information is coming from. I personally try to read the New York Times, glance through the Economist, watch the BBC world news, and learn from Jon Stewart's the Daily Show (That man is a genius). This means that I notice when something is missing when I happen to glance at the local news. Getting informed takes time, but it does mean that I'm harder to manipulate and I can vote on the facts.

FYI, the article also discussed how there were payoffs involved to some who wrote commentaries in favor of the Bush Administration policies.

Rita Skeeter, as a foil of truth, is in our media. If we get our news from a single source, we will rarely find the whole truth. If we don't pay attention to the sources, we rarely see the whole picture.

Seek truth, but know your sources. It is a lesson found in the fourth Harry Potter book and it is this same lesson that the New York Times presents us with today.