Macrocosm - USA Trends In Journalism
Microcosm – APTA ENERGY Newsletter
© 2007 Richard Chandler, RPP
Over the term of our current USA President and his administration, we have seen some radical movement away from neutrality and into a new norm, in which neutral inquiry into the depths of an issue and a standard protocol of presenting diverse sides of an issue have virtually disappeared from mainstream media.
How could and did this happen? First, powerful corporate money interests would prefer that we citizens tend to the task of consuming goods and services and not pay so much attention to the important events happening in the world on a global scale.
While these events are often unfair, unjust and destructive in the long run to all entities on the planet, including us as humans, it seems that large corporate powers would rather have us believe that world affairs, the deteriorating environment and increasing levels of violence aren’t all that relevant to our day-to-day lives.
We have been lulled to believe that the type of vehicles we drive, the wattage of light bulbs that we use and the destruction caused by our government’s current military and political involvement in Iraq doesn’t directly effect us all that much.
We live our lives like very young adults that have been given a stack of credit cards with very high limits and we are spending at breakneck speed with no thought at all to the reality that at some point we need to pay it back, with interest… with very high interest.
Part of how big money interests are doing this is to place pressure on media not to pursue or to publish in-depth articles, which call the current status quo into question. Subtle coercion involving withdrawal of advertising support is utilized to keep the stories we actually receive by mainstream media more sanitized and very much reported on the surface rather than at the depth of what is actually happening.
Our current USA administration, which serves the large corporate interests, very effectively employs three additional tools: intimidation, limited access to information and dressing up propaganda to look a good deal like real news.
The primary intimidation that we have been hearing of late is that any calls for reducing our involvement in Iraq or extracting us from the civil war that we have to a large extent created is unpatriotic, and is somehow placing our troops at greater risk. It doesn’t take much rational thinking to realize that withdrawing our troops after four years of bloodshed that hasn’t yet helped to stabilize the country, while civil war continues to ratchet up, will in fact save many more of our own troop’s lives, than sending even more troops into Iraq and keeping them there indefinitely.
Yet emotionally, accusing those interested in ending this fiasco of being unsupportive of the troops packs quite a punch, as it is so hard to argue against God, country, supporting our troops and being patriotic and loyal.
The second tactic of our current USA administration is limiting access to information. They have very effectively shut out access to what is actually happening by not letting reporters talk directly with top people or staff people.
Instead, information is only disseminated in partial, limited press releases and occasional press conferences, where how it all looks on television is paramount, while what is actually said is most always rehearsed, and rarely gives us the real news behind the carefully worded statements.
To me, our current president provides the kind of depth a twelve year old would give while delivering an oral book report, which reads like it was based on only one source of information… World Book Encyclopedia.
The third tactic we as citizens are subject to is the plethora of propaganda dressed up as news. Much of the reporting on the Iraq war itself was not real reporting. Instead, military reporters who were actually military personnel generated a great deal of it. They wrote many or these stories and then supplied them to news outlets.
Since there was so little access to real news – due to the danger of reporting on the ground in Iraq and the limited access to real information – our media often had to publish this or have nothing to publish at all. (NPR reported on the issue of military personnel as faux reporters in a number reports aired early on in the war.)
First – 3 factual inaccuracies printed on page 20 of the current issue of ENERGY.
1. While Ellie was pleased to see that her email to the APTA board was included in the winter issue of ENERGY as a “letter to the editor,” she was quite surprised by it as she states that she never sent it to Laurie Copeland to be published in the “letters to the editor” of ENERGY.
2. Ellie Simmons was not the “former Office Manager for APTA” as stated at the end of her letter. She was the Executive Director, which was a position demanding much greater acumen, responsibility and managerial equity with the board.
3. The “In Response” paragraph following my letter stated the following:
“The many articles and notes that appear throughout this edition, should address the concerns and issues raised in the above letters. Also note that each of the above letters was received and responded to directly by board members via email.”
This simply is not true. My concerns were not responded to via email by board members. No board members other than Damon got in touch with me. Damon did not ‘directly respond’ to the concerns and issues that I raised. Instead, he made a suggestion that I interview him by telephone prior to each publication of ENERGY, by formulating questions and writing out his answers in the form of an article.
I personally know of four other APTA members who have been writing emails, asking for specific information on the serious issues that affect us. Many times these requests were ignored. When they have been answered, quite often only part of the requested information was actually provided.
Please read the questions that I asked in my “letter to the editor” on page 20 of the current issue of ENERGY. Now take a look at the articles on pages 5 – 9. You will see that many of the questions that I posed have not been answered.
For those questions that were addressed, did the answers contain enough breadth and depth of information so you were able to identify and understand the background facts and follow the decision-making process, which led to enacting the decisions that the board has made?
As monumental decisions have been enacted, by reorganizing the administrative operations of our association to eliminate the position of a very experienced executive director, by relocating our headquarters to another part of the country and by moving our membership from the current non-profit entity into a new one, why are these decisions being made without prior notice to us, the members?
The mechanisms for notification have been in place: We have a quarterly newsletter, (of which the fall issue was skipped without notifying members that we would not be receiving it, even though we could have easily been notified at no additional cost within our membership renewal mailing), we had a functioning website, (unlike the new one which is dressed nicely but so far hasn’t actually worked all that well), we have email addresses of members, (which have next to no hard costs involved) and we have direct mail, (which could have been used to provide us with the background, ideas and possible options prior to the time when monumental decisions were enacted.)
With real news, we would have had the opportunity to weigh in and quite possible come up with better decisions through our increased input and feedback to the APTA board.
By the nature of the quotes on pages 3, 5, 17 and 23 as well as the articles themselves, you will notice this underlying message: “To be critical is to be negative, lack loyalty and not be a team player.”
After a year of being the editor ENERGY, I found out how difficult the job is. It is not easy to generate sufficient amounts of new content. And if one chooses to be critical of the board, while being the editor, might it possibly result in having even less access to what is actually happening in terms of board deliberations? How would one generate content if even more isolated from complete information?
I have empathy for Laurie Copeland, in that writing anything other than the company line might feel a little risky, as these same people whose actions and decisions might deserve to be reported on in a more complete and compelling way, also control her paycheck.
For me, there is a strong connection between the macrocosm of our current state of news, and the microcosm of our own APTA organization. If I had lost all hope of the situation improving, then it would have been a waste of time for me to write this out and post it.
So despite the possibility that this commentary will be seen as just one more instance of being negative, I remain optimistic for the innate power of Polarity Therapy to shine through our APTA organizational struggles and in my ongoing belief that authenticity is ultimately of greater value to most everyone than appearance.