Lee Wilkinson

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How can we redirect the media's fascination with the lives of worthless celebrities and focus more on real world issues?

With the crisis in Japan are we that caught up in the worthless lives of so called celebrities that the media has the need to focus on them with such importance?

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    Mar 12 2011: Great question and timely question, Lee. I do not have the ultimate answer but when I read a great article by Anna Hlomes (New York Times, Op Ed) called 'The disposable woman', which pilliored Charlie Sheens' violent behaviour, I reposted it on my own blog. I also posted comments that I received in response to it including one from from a father who proposed that women vote with their dollars and hold sponsors accountable.

    I think we have to communicate with our spending and watching habits what we will support and what we won't- the problem is that the old maxim is very true- intension does not equal action and many people particiate in the circus but will not admit it.

    Ted talks certainly tries to perform the function that you are hoping for and perhaps more of us need to forward these talks to media outlets. I currently post almost every new talk to make sure more people will see them.
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      Mar 12 2011: It's as though enough people need to reach critical mass in order to say 'Enough' and yes the sooner we men collectively get our head from out our A**** and stop thinking with our 1% the better the world will be.
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    Mar 12 2011: I am not directly answering the question about how traditional media can change here. But rather giving an argument for that we ourselves are more able than ever to do something about this today.

    With the rise of social media such as facebook and twitter we are all able to become "micro gate keepers" that has some controll of what news that gets circulated.

    If we see for example each profile on facebook as a node in a network of contacts, and say that the average number of contacts between the nodes are 200. Then I think it only takes about three or four out of 200 people that are motivated to reshare news stories that seems of higher value than news about celebrities to make these stories go viral and being presented to almost every active facebook user.
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      Mar 12 2011: I was so busy being pissed off that I never thought of that, it really is right under our noses, the power to change lies at our finger tips. Great point Kristofer.
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        Mar 13 2011: I have actually allways been a little frustrated too that real news doesn't seem to get attention. Especially the kind of news that are important for understanding the society around us.

        I have actually tried to experiment with this a little over the past three months by inserting somewhere in between one and three news/TED talks/documentaries/etc into my facebook stream each day. I have also whenever a friend of mine have shared something similar tried to make that post part of my daily one to three posts in order to set an example that resharing interesting stuff is good. And I think I see a trend where people are begining to do the same.

        Through this experiment I have set some guidlines for myself. First of all, make posts that do reflect on the world, but at the same time are interesting or inspiering to my "friends". Then I keep the number of posts limited each day as I don't want to spam the channel. Finally I tend to reshare other friends posts whenever they are interesting instead of introducing my own posts because it is the kind of practice that makes news go viral. At the same time multiple posts of the same link from multiple friends are presented as a single post to other friends and is a way of avoiding spaming the channel.
  • Mar 12 2011: Its a facet of human nature to look up to a leader in society, to admire and idolize them for their efforts and greatness. Ironically however, today our leaders have little to no societal worth. We have to ask the question "What are they giving to us then" it must be something that makes them this valuable to the masses. I think what that something is, is simply escapism. We live in times so exasperated and obtuse that people naturally fall into a addictive need for relief. I think this comes in many forms, including celebrities.

    Now there are people of minor fame who actually do contribute to society quite a bit. Who expose the current problems of the world and spring those who watch them to take action. These people are what if anything celebrities should be. My example is the online community of something called Nerdfighteria believe it or not. The sun that this community revolves around are two kids named John and Hank Green who are on youtube and call themselves the Vlogbrothers. One of them is currently in Haiti helping out. They but together a giant charity every year that's sole purpose is to spread awareness by people power of many charities and donate to them. Last year I believe over $150,000 was raised total. They do much more than this however. I would go check it out.
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      Mar 12 2011: A great point, there are many celebrities of major fame who also do amazing work which as you say is maybe their lot in life to return the good. I was just looking at the headlines on Japan and there was Charlie Sheen on house arrest and the sex of the Beckam's next child. To which I think "Who cares' but obviously some do.
  • Mar 12 2011: Why do we need to redirect anything? Nobody forces anybody to watch/read/listen to anything. The media publish what people want to see. Sadly, a lot of people want to know what Paris Hilton is up to. I don't, but I don't think I have any right to tell others they shouldn't.
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      Mar 12 2011: I agree 100% Revett, I also would never think to control in the legal sense that's called censorship, but with something as powerful and essential as the media which is driven by $ I believe we need to be thoughtful of how we support it's machine.
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      Mar 12 2011: I can see your point, and to a large degree I agree with you.

      However, the idea of democracy relies on that informed citizens makes rational choices when it comes to supporting one or another candidate for representing them in the government. In a sense democracy is therefore not only a right for citizens to make their voice heard, it is also a duty to do once best to understand what one or the other choice may mean to others. Especially so when a countrys affairs do affect those in other countries whos citizens has no way of making their voice heard in the first country.

      Moreover, there was a day when we mostly where dependent upon and only affected those in our emediate neighborhood. Those where the days when more or less every family grew their own crops and trade where a relatively small portion of the day to day life. Today we are very dependent upon others as well as affecting others vastly remote from us in our day to day activities. So not only do we as citizens have the responsibility to make informed dessisions about who should represent us in the governments, we do also have the responsibility to make ethically correct dessisions about our consumer habits.

      I do believe that this puts a bit of a responsibility on those that delivers the news to actually enlighten the masses about reality and not only handing out what we seem to want. Especially it is a problem when news with no news value are presented as news. It fools us into believing that we are aware of the surounding without being so. Schools do not only teach us what we want to be tought at the moment, so why should news agencies only tell us what we want to be told at the moment?

      (Don't weight my one sentence of confirmation to my three paragraph of denial to your argument as that I am in complete disagreement with you though. I only felt I needed to motivate my points of disagreement a little more ;) )
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    Mar 12 2011: The following in America terms...

    www.thinkandask.com/news/mediagiants.html

    I think the media covers celebrities as a part of American culture, a culture that envies the rich. Laziness, ignorance, drunkenness, and a lack of responsibility are (and always have been) the privilege of the wealthy. I guess when America started showing it didn't care for "real" news the news media decided to put more interesting topic on.

    Personally I think it is a, I hate to use this word but, conspiracy to keep Americans dumb, so we do not realize all the wrong and unjust that surrounds us. If the media covered Wisconsin like they should, a lot of people would be thinking about their benefits and compare. If they covered how Puerto Rico is rioting due to taxing citizens without representation maybe they would think about how there taxes are spent. Countless examples can be made.

    Also in our country a handful of corporations own the public stations, that and a combination of lobbyism there is a lot of room for control (this ties into the "conspiracy" i guess). I am no where near an expert nor do i pretend to be but from my understanding of how lobbies work and an idea of how powerful some of these corporations are i.e disney (who even on my auto-correct tells me to capitalize the word) I don't think a lot of people see who is really behind the curtain pulling the strings. Some fun facts, 6 companies basically run the movie industry as 95 percent of the films produced, and these 6 are owned by 6 larger corporation that own about 90 percent of public entertainment. (Source - "This film is not yet rated")

    I would say media is the tool to keep people in illusions and not caring about anything else except jersey shore, professional wrestling (which I cannot believe still exist), and just over all pop culture. I could get into how education doesn't do anything to help teach kids how to filter this useless knowledge but that is another topic....

    Change the media = changing Americ