PHILOSOPHY OF THE MEDIA

By William Markiewicz

The term 'objective information' is used constantly, mostly where it doesn't belong. The only objective truth is in the domain of science because formulas don't know psychology nor adornment. In matters of personal importance, we don't need formulas to see clearly. But human beings are not oriented toward important personal matters alone; we have our philosophies, we need entertainment... And here the media enter the picture. Information, philosophy, entertainment mix very badly but that's what the media, willingly or unwillingly, subject us to constantly.

The main power of the media is that it doesn't need to be perfect in order to function and thrive. Once a newspaper, TV program, etc. establishes its reputation, it maintains its momentum. Rarely does the editor or editors criticize and try to improve the quality. People will buy, listen or look because that's what they have and they are used to it like fish swimming in polluted water. Editors, prominent columnists may have their own respective agendas.and, for the most part, are not under anyone's control. So, potentially it is an all powerful and virtually unchallenged propaganda machine. Heaven help those who are on the wrong side of the contract and/or 'silenced to death' (Todtschweigen) because they have no way to express their side of the story. And it doesn't matter if they are 'good' or 'bad', 'right' or 'wrong' -- silence, like microbes, kills indiscriminately.

I've always been interested in a problem related to Martial Arts -- how somebody down and out can still fight. With the arrival of the Internet we got an important tool of independent communication. But the Internet cannot compete efficiently with the media; it cannot reach the masses -- even by spamming which as we know is not popular. And consider the capricious accessibility/inaccessibility that so often exasperates net users! So, Internet, though an important break in the monopoly of the media, is far from competing efficiently.

Another tool which can break the media's monopoly and of which we don't think too often is situated at the antipode of the Internet because it's primitive to the point of being archaic. I'm talking about posters.

Posters are the media of the poor just as suicide brigades are the nuclear weapon of the poor. In our epoch of instant gratification people don't want to be lectured and educated about something they don't need to know. Because the poster offers unsolicited information, it must be short enough to be read before it's rejected. Contrary to the media, the poster must be perfect because newspapers have many pages allowing many mistakes to pass unperceived or forgiven, while the poster is only one page with a few words. The poster must be very simple because it speaks to people who know nothing about the topic, and it must appeal to common sense as well as to the sense of drama or humour. The good poster doesn't offer material for reflection or debate, but speaks of logical, undebatable truths which cannot be rejected because they can be easily checked by unbiased documents (like historically proved statistics, chronicles, etc.) I'm talking of course of 'good' posters; the 'bad' ones appeal to the primitive basic emotions fed by dogma. The poster is a skirmisher's weapon. Each word must be aggressive and try to reach the subconscious through 'shock therapy.' This is a war tool not a dialogue tool. You can't have a dialogue with those who are not interested in a dialogue, but you can shock them. The poster, in my view, is the tool in the arsenal of communication warfare that can accomplish it. Posters are the tool for 'mass attack.'

Democracy is for peace but in 'war' leaders are needed. A leader implies an organization. An individual or disorganized individuals wouldn't be able to carry on a campaign over a prolonged period.

Of course the poster doesn't have to be only political. Good advertising makes a good poster -- especially when it employs humour, drama, art, and the unexpected.

Why is all this important? Because, in spite of the overflow of information we're subjected to, we remain underinformed. Why? Because unverifiable information is the opposite of information. And why should we care about authenticity in cases where a topic doesn't affect us personally? Because the LIE may affect somebody else, and tomorrow perhaps us, who knows? Therefore it's better to form the good habit of being sceptical of all news concerning unfamiliar topics and to always look for alternative sources.


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