Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Democracies and Media Systems: Action Versus Distraction

This is an article from Project Censored by Concha Mateos.  I believe it is a good explaination of how media is controlled by the corporate world with the goal of  distraction and confusing and conquering.  In a sense I see this as citizens being tricked or deceived into handing over their power.  As long as this condition remains in modern democractic societies than democracy is just an empty word.  Now if you so choose, please read this article and come to your own decisions as to the validity of this persons argument.  Here is part of the article with a link to the original in it's entirety along with references:

Democracies and Media Systems: Action versus Distraction

by Concha Mateos

The history of the media is saturated with communicational kidnappings. Edgar Borges1

This essay discusses profound tensions created by corporate media systems within modern democracies and how these relations may differ among Europe, Latin America and the United States. We will see that media systems are a central part of the democratic, or undemocratic, character of any society.

Democracy may be defined most simply as rule by the people; from the Greek, demos or the people; cracy or power – power by the people. A society is democratic when each individual within it has an equal capacity to influence the decisions that govern collective life. Power is in everyone’s hands.

The media system of a society and its characteristics (i.e., the numbers and types of media players, ownership structures and audiences, content distribution, and so on) produces the public discourse, a discourse that circulates among people, a discourse that is consumed by the public. Public opinion is constructed through the consumption of a media-produced discourse. And based on public opinion constructed in this way, women and men make political decisions governing collective life.

These decisions are political and are about power, whether the person who makes them knows it or not. Throughout the day, we all make a number of political decisions: we pay rent for an apartment; we buy (or do not buy) products from factories that exploit children; we ask another customer to not smoke in a café; we enroll in a Spanish course; and so on. These are examples of the demos making decisions and governing society. These are actions that are regulated politically, that become possible, or not, due to the adoption of particular policies. And they are actions that spring from the opinions that we hold about these and myriads of other things.

Therefore, the manufacture of public opinion has always been an objective of those who rule, those in power. If one dominates the creation of public opinion, one dominates the bases upon which decisions are made by citizens in a democratic society.

Of course, the conduct of others can be dominated or determined byforce. But the history of humanity represents a continuous demonstration that domination by force and physical repression generates more complicated problems for ruling powers than does domination through a more symbolic violence – the shaping of minds by the organized management of public opinion.

And where does the domination of the public opinion occur? It occurs, above all, in media communication processes. Manuel Castell (2008) points out indisputably that power relations are increasingly established within communication processes, and these are made according to the possibilities allowed by the media system in each society. Thus the media system becomes a central part of the democratic, or undemocratic, character of a society. And for that reason, we want to address it.

Castell reminds us that the same tool used for power is and can be a tool used to counter power, though of course, not without costs: “Torturing bodies is less effective than shaping minds. If most people are against the values and norms institutionalized and established by the state, through laws and regulations, ultimately the system will change, but not necessarily to fulfill the hopes of the agents of social change. But change will come. It will just take a while and will be at the expense of suffering, much suffering.”

So yes, the domain of communication is power. And it can generate counter-power. But this power creates strong tensions: few have it; others want it. Yet, in a democracy, everyone should be able to exercise power, and for this it is necessary to establish some ground rules to ensure that “the demos is governing.”
If there are places where that power is not distributed equally, things shall be transformed – and probably painfully so. The media space in this first decade of the twenty-first century is a contested terrain. Some struggle to distribute power more equally and others work to keep power more concentrated among the few.

Some feel that their rights are at stake and others feel that their businesses are at stake.  It is unlikely that those with power will give it up without resistance: “[The process of] social change, [as] we know it, is always violent. Nobody will give up peacefully what he or she already has and considers his or her property. No injustice disappears by itself; it involves fighting. Like it or not, violence defines all of these processes. Peace is not the human reality.”2

Citizens in Darkness, Democracy in the Dustbin: The Business of Confusing People, And of Creating Immunity by Noise

A man without knowledge, a world without light, as Baltasar Gracián said in the 17th century in The Art of Worldly Wisdom.

To read the enire article, please click on the below mentioned link:

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