Yellow Journalism, The Sensationalist Drug Dealers
Admit it. You’re as drawn to sensationalist headlines as I am. Maybe it’s human nature to look at a train wreck, even though we don’t really want to see all the gruesome detail, at least on the surface. Yellow journalism is the sign that’s posted on top of the train wreck as you’re driving by that tells you to slam on your breaks and check this out! It’s telling you that you better not only slam on your brakes, but you should get out of your car because this is a “once in a lifetime opportunity, and you don’t want to miss it, lest you regret it forever.” Then, once you’re in, you’ll be persuaded to side with whomever put up the sign, and told who to blame.
Our media is broken. There are about five or so massive corporations who own it all. “Fair and Balanced” is the biggest line of bullshit I’ve ever heard. Asking what “Joe” on Twitter thinks of the story is probably the second. How can a press be “free” when the lines of communication on the mass media scale are beholden to quarterly profits and shareholder appeasement? It doesn’t take much to follow the lines and see how many of the same people sit on multiple corporate boards, but that’s not what this article or site is about.
Yellow journalism is sensationalism. Wikipedia has this:
Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics:
- scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
- lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
- use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
- emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
- dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.
The first bullet point above is unfortunately becoming all too common. This shock and awe approach to headlines is being used everywhere, especially in the political arena. As we gear up for another Presidential election season, this kind of garbage is only set to increase.
Blame, The Easy Way Out
What I want to really get at here, though, is not all the rhetoric, but the nasty art of blaming the other side instead of finding common ground. It’s easy to blame someone else for things. It’s also a very weak, but all too common character trait as of late. Accepting that we are all to blame for the way the world is is a much harder concept to grasp, let alone assume responsibility for.
The recent economic situation has been ripe for this blame game. One one side, you have the banks, on the other you have those who took on more debt than they could handle. Somewhere in the middle you had the prudent who stayed out of the game, but are still getting hurt.
The “conservatives” love to blame the mess on the people who signed on for loans that they had no business taking, or government “affordability” initiatives. They love to point the finger at the borrowers. This is akin to blaming the drug problem solely on the drug users.
The “liberals” love to blame the mess on the big evil banks. After all, it were the banks that lowered their lending standards and packaged up mortgages that they knew were toxic, into collateralized debt obligations, and then got their buddies in the ratings agencies to give them AAA ratings. They were the drug dealers, pushers, and “greedy, self-centered pigs.”
The polarization and spin in stories relating to this can get you more dizzy than a ride on a Gravitron. I have yet to hear a story that speaks of both sides sharing equal blame for this mess. What is even worse, is that a situation of this magnitude is even being spoken about in such black and white terms. The real reasons behind this mess are not to be blamed on one side or another, but go much deeper than anyone can fathom. The problem is in all of us, and is a sickness that we all suffer from.
We are NOT Our Beliefs
We are ruled by emotion, and don’t fully see how those emotions control our lives. We are slaves, bound not by other people, but by our own limiting beliefs and thoughts, and the emotional responses that those thoughts provoke. A belief is a great thing, but an idea is far stronger and superior.
When we form a belief, we tend to shut down everything that runs contrary to that belief. It’s painful to us, for our ego is so locked up in that belief that we can’t see any other possibility. Watch the pundits on the cable news channels to see how they play into people’s belief structures. It’s so easy to sell ad space when you can lock in viewers by feeding their beliefs and egos. People become rabid over their “belief territory”, and don’t try to threaten their world view, lest you be labeled a “hater”, or a “doom and gloomer”, or a “liberal”, or a “conservative”, or any other label people can use as defense to their threatened egos.
Mindfulness can help break the chains that bind us. Through mindful practice, we can begin to see these structures for what they are…false. There is no “conservative” vs. “liberal”. These two labels are only perspectives, and are two sides of the same thing. Both are “structures” that promote the idea of a “perfect world”, as long as you ascribe to their ideals. The problem is, that those ideals are always changing.
When you divide a populace, you can certainly sell more news and ad space. You have a polarization that creates a hard core fan base. That fan base will do anything as long as you keep giving them their crack. You entice the right and the left in the same way, you just change your message slightly. It’s all too easy when people are asleep.
Maria Shriver, in a recent graduation speech to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, said this:
I’m asking you to learn how to pause, because I believe the state of our communication is out of control. And you? I believe you have the incredible opportunity to fix it.
You have the power, each and every one of you, to change the way we as a nation speak to one another. I truly beleve you can change our national discourse for the better.
You have the chance to change the way we talk to one another, what we read on the Web and newspapers and magazines, what we see on TV, what we hear on radio. You can help us change the channel.
I’m hoping you young men and women dare to bring change to our community by changing our communication.
Change it from criticism and fault-finding to understanding and compassion. Change it from nay-saying and name-calling to acceptance and appreciation.
Change it from dissembling and dishonesty to openness and explanation.
Change from screaming to speaking.
What a concept! Pause.
Take Time Out to Pause
Take the time to pause, focus on your breath. Begin to see the truth behind things. From that perspective, you will have a much better position to make your own decisions and choices. If we all did this on a regular basis, who knows what would happen?
Also, for crying out loud, let’s stop the name calling, blaming, and general nasty polarization and come together to fix the problems we have. It’s easy to criticize something, and everyone’s a critic. Try fixing it, it gets much more difficult, but is far more rewarding. Let’s begin to ignore the Yellow Journalism, and focus on more mindfulness… end rant…