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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance after fatal hit and run

A male pedestrian was fatally injured Sunday afternoon after being hit by… Continue reading

Oilers 50/50 raffle delayed further as team resolves errors, offers refunds

EDMONTON — A record-setting Edmonton Oilers 50/50 draw won’t have a winner… Continue reading

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 9

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:50… Continue reading

Liberals turn over thousands of pages on WE decision, lawyers now vetting docs

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government has handed over thousands of pages… Continue reading

Samson Cree Nation reeling after 10 year-old-boy-shot, 13-year-old charged with manslaughter

‘Don’t give up, keep praying, we will get through this’

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake couple donates $850,000 to AACS

The doantion will be put towards a new X-Ray machine for the facility

Call the police if you’re disturbed by noisy vehicles

I’m disgusted at the nightly vehicle noise in Red Deer. Night after… Continue reading

Explosion helps to hasten the meltdown of Lebanon

Beirut has been living with car bombs and air raids on a… Continue reading

Take comfort — it could be hotter

If it’s one thing we humans are pretty good at, it’s complaining… Continue reading

Singer Salome Bey, known as Canada’s first lady of the blues, dies at age 86

Singer Salome Bey, known as Canada’s first lady of the blues, has… Continue reading

US investigates electrical fires in 2014 Chrysler minivans

DETROIT — The U.S. government’s road safety agency is investigating complaints of… Continue reading

Greece slams Turkish announcement on energy research in eastern Med

ATHENS, Greece — Greece on Monday slammed a Turkish announcement that it… Continue reading

Most Read