Posted by: Jim | April 18, 2005

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Mixed Up Media

I finally got to view Hotel Rwanda last night. It’s a great film, and I recommend it.

I feel ashamed that it takes a movie for me to truly grasp the horrifying truth about various shameful parts of human history. I knew about what was going on in Rwanda, and did my small part by dialoging on the internet about how are media was neglecting it. But this movie really spelled out the enormity of the tragedy for me. In another example, Spielberg did a better job of conveying the frightening truth of the holocaust better than any of the many documentary films that showed piles of real, dead bodies. Why? I’m really not sure.

There was a day when Americans could be riled up by a single newspaper article. Part of the downside of our spectacular media is that now it requires major stimulus for westerners (Americans in particular) to get stirred to action.

Conversely, one hundred years ago, Americans could be deceived by a single newspaper article (i.e. the sinking of the Maine). Today it takes a major media blitz to truly deceive us, but it has happened nonetheless.

The American media chose to not cover the Rwandan tragedy. The Administration at that time (Clinton’s) failed to intervene. I doubt the current administration would intervene either, since our economic interests in Rwanda were pretty much nil.

Here’s my point: If our media doesn’t cover an event, we don’t care about it. If our media lies to us, we are too easily duped. When our media is on board and truthful about an event, we are informed and can take intelligent action.

I really don’t want to rely on our media anymore. But I feel limited in my ability to find out what’s truly true.

I just this moment joined Amnesty International.

Maybe that will help.

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