Chidiac: Trivialization of news creating a world of mediocrity

There is a market for trivial information that disguises itself as news.

By Gerry Chidiac

Advocate news services

If we want to create change in the world, we need to be truly informed.

A number of years ago, American philosopher and human rights advocate Noam Chomsky put forth the idea that, in western society, the powers that be manipulate the media to “manufacture consent.” That is, they get people to focus on meaningless information or information that furthers their cause in order to keep the masses under control.

Some of Chomsky’s perspective rings true.

The most poignant example occurred during the Cold War. In the late 1970s, a horrendous genocide in Cambodia was very well reported. We all knew about the crimes committed by the communist Khmer Rouge. What we didn’t know, however, was that not far away in East Timor, a very similar genocide was taking place. The difference was that it was being carried out by Indonesia, an American ally.

Chomsky points out that mainstream media coverage of this atrocity was almost non-existent for nearly 25 years. It was not until Indonesian President Suharto began to fall from the good graces of western leaders in the late 1990s that there was any significant coverage. And little of that drew attention to the fact that Suharto’s efforts were supported for many years by his allies.

After the Cold War, the trend to ignore significant global issues continued. In 1994 and 1995, we were glued to our televisions watching the O.J. Simpson trial, yet we largely ignored the genocide in Rwanda.

Even with the growth of the Internet and the freedom it allows us to find alternate news sources, we continue to focus on issues that are of little consequence, issues that simply fill our minds with insignificant information and make us complacent. It would appear that Chomsky is correct.

Yet many people in the media vehemently deny that there is any overt pressure put on them to “manufacture consent.” This has certainly been my experience as a freelance columnist. I have found editors quite happy to publish my material if what I provide is thought-provoking and well written. At times, my topics are controversial and become a source of debate. But open and respectful discussion is one of the primary goals of freedom of the press.

So why is so much more written about the lifestyle of the Kardashians than about their efforts to draw attention to the dangers of denying the genocide in their ancestral homeland of Armenia?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the fact that there is more of a market for trivial information that disguises itself as news than there is for information that can change the world. Perhaps the media is simply responding to the fact that, in order to survive — in today’s digital age — they have to give people what they want.

The argument that the media is simply responding to market demand doesn’t necessarily disprove Chomsky’s theory, but it does draw attention to the fact that we need to focus on education.

And the most important thing to teach our children is that we become what we think about. To be better people, we must focus not only on our goodness but also on our responsibility to become our very best. To make the world better, we need to focus on the real challenges before us and join with others in a spirit of harmony in bringing this about.

Do we want a world of mediocrity and complacency, or do we want a world of positive change? Ultimately, that’s the decision that each of us has to make every day — and it depends a great deal on what we know.

Troy Media’s Gerry Chidiac is an award winning genocide educator and high school teacher.

Just Posted

Pro-pipeline protest convoy approaches Ottawa after rolling across country

OTTAWA — A convoy of angry Albertans and other westerners rolls into… Continue reading

Amazon aims to cut its carbon footprint

NEW YORK — Amazon, which ships millions of packages a year to… Continue reading

For sake of pupils’ pupils, China to ban homework on apps

BEIJING — An eastern Chinese province plans to ban teachers from assigning… Continue reading

Parole hearing for Calgary man who strangled wife, buried body in basement

BOWDEN, Alta. — A man who strangled his wife and concealed her… Continue reading

Red Deerians brave the chill to spend Family Day in the new Celebration Plaza

The 2019 Canada Winter Games hub attracted a lot of parents and kids

Historic win for Team Nunavut at Canada Winter Games

Four years in the making boiled down to a collection of firsts… Continue reading

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld dies in Paris

PARIS — Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s iconic couturier whose designs had an unprecedented… Continue reading

Canadian women beat US 2-0 to win inaugural Rivalry Series

DETROIT — The inaugural Rivalry Series was created to give Canada and… Continue reading

Don Cherry blasts Hurricanes as ‘jerks’; team responds with his words on T-shirt

TORONTO — Don Cherry’s latest rant about the Carolina Hurricanes and their… Continue reading

Country star Miranda Lambert reveals secret marriage

NASHVILLE — Country star Miranda Lambert celebrated Valentine’s Day weekend with the… Continue reading

‘Black Panther’ costume designer blazes trail to inspire

LOS ANGELES — Ruth E. Carter is a black woman blazing a… Continue reading

Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has ‘shifted’

Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the assault reported by Jussie… Continue reading

Still-active human rights case speaks to lasting homophobia in Canada: activists

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Just over 14 years ago, the government of… Continue reading

Alberta missionaries among the Canadians heading home from riot-stricken Haiti

MONTREAL — A Canadian couple who had to leave Haiti due to… Continue reading

Most Read