I grew up listening to the news on radio, watching it on TV, and reading it in the paper (and in magazines). I have found myself increasingly weary of mainstream news, however. It is an odd feeling. My political beliefs have always led me to question the mainstream news sources but I would still make a point of watching network news programs. Over time something happened.
With the exception of Aljazeera, which offers the most interesting in what can be called mainstream news, we are treated to endless stories about what now seems to be endless electoral/political campaigns. We are treated to stories about the economy that tell us so little about the roots of the current economic crisis. We are then treated to inane stories about this or that celebrity (and who they might be involved with) or stories about some horror, such as a mass murder or environmental disaster.
Think about it: how often do you get a sense as to why anything is actually happening? Instead we are exposed to what feels like a ticker tape of disasters, which has the net effect of making you want to run away and hide. When there are so-called experts speaking, they are more than likely white men, as if there is no one else on planet Earth capable of interpreting reality. But added to that, the spectrum of opinions is so terribly narrow so as to make distinctions difficult to ascertain.
The reality of the bias and intellectual desert that is mainstream news is why it is so critical that two things happen. One, legislative action will need to be taken to break up the oligopoly that has emerged in mainstream news. We need more news channels and we need a variety of opinions. Two, we need to support good alternative media, including but not limited to African American media. With regard to alternative media, as greater attention turns to the Web, we, the consumers of information must realize that we will need to provide support. Good news necessitates more than just opinion but the hiring of capable journalists who have the courage and expertise to investigate and write about the global developments that should be brought to our attention.
I feel embarrassed ignoring the mainstream media, even though I am often relieved that I do not need to hear the nonsense. But I cannot hide; nor can you. My experience is that when you actually speak with regular people about WHY things are happening, or when you hear news programs that treat the viewer/reader as if they are intelligent rather than a moron, the lights go on…and someone is, in fact, home.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of "Solidarity Divided." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.