Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Power of Media: When is it Too Much

Just finished reading the excellent Primetime Propaganda: How the Left took over your TV Set by Ben Shapiro detailing how Hollywood is dominated by liberals and how liberal television creators have used this position of domination to create programs infused with their own liberal values for consumption of the masses. Probably one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in 2011.

 Shapiro really doesn’t break ground with the idea that liberals dominate the television industry, but the access Shapiro gets to these creators and executives is simply something to behold. Television creators are apparently not a shy lot as they openly admit that their shows may have a liberal bend to them because of their backgrounds and other social factors. To hear what else Shapiro has to say check out : Primetime Propaganda: How the Left took over your TV Set from your local library or favorite bookseller.

Shapiro’s book led me to question how television has altered society since its’ inception roughly sixty years ago. I thought about how the coverage of wars has changed. Walter Cronkite reported from Vietnam war-zone and in the process galvanized a titlewave of protests against the war, for better, or worse. Fast forward to modern day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was a high school sophomore when Iraq was invaded and sat in my United States history class as CNN and other news organizations gave a very detailed accounting of the weapons that were going to be used during the opening stages of the invasion.

Now we have embedded reporters and reports for the areas of military conflict that can be a double edged sword because although one has a greater sense of what’s going on. On the other hand, there has to be a legitimate question whether we surrender too much military secrecy and put our forces in more danger in the interest of the masses craving more information.

Social media and increased information are not bad things. Many of the revolutions collectively known as the Arab Spring have been aided at least somewhat by active Facebook and Twitter campaigns detailing plans for rallies, protests, and providing real-time updates for worldwide consumption of on the ground events. But when does the information become too much? Surely, there must be a line that cannot be crossed.

 One answer may be : “Well giving out information that puts innocent lives at risk.” In a military context for example, troop coordinates should not given out on national television because it puts operations at risk. But by media outlets releasing information on protest oriented tweets and Facebook postings aren’t lives also being put at risks because government forces can infiltrate social media and send repressive security forces to break protests?

The question I pose to the blog is: Has society become too intrusive in its' need for information?

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