This picture is obviously fake, but illustrates a good point. In today’s world of politics and news, we have become people of acceptance without fact. We often accept as truth as whatever we see and hear, without bothering to investigate, or even look at the whole picture. With the advent of Internet and the ability to send and obtain information at light speed we often end up with “facts” that are not always what they appear to be. Just as often, a person will watch something posted on YouTube and perceive what they just saw “with their own two eyes” as fact. It is a perilous way to approach our news and even more dangerous within the political realm. Especially dangerous when given the fact that political speeches seem to all share the same template with only confusing political party language written in an effort to differentiate. When you throw in the degradation of news programs, once leaders in truth-seeking, as somebody once said, we got trouble! Adding to the problem is the downward turn in clean, truthful language in both arenas. Politics and News. They go hand in hand. The news media is supposed to be the watchdog of our societies, but are not receiving the whole truth, and instead, we are receiving a confusing version of the truth. The news media is supposed to inform and reveal. Unfortunately, we seem to be confused at every turn, and it needs to stop.
Politics and the English Language. A brilliant essay written by George Orwell, and one every university English student has had to read.
While it may be dated in its language it is, however, in some ways more relevant today than when it was written. It is an essay that I believe every politician, journalist and watchdog of society should read again. Not one person would dare to say the majority of journalistic endeavors and political ramblings are written with more thought and intelligence than they were in Orwell’s day. Not that we the public, who read these infantile diatribes are any better. We, who claim to be a compassionate society, seem to delight in once bright shining stars plummeting to earth in spectacular shows of idiocy. Britney’s public showing of her not-so public places was taken as serious water-cooler fodder, as is Charlie Sheen’s current salient show of self-destruction. With self-righteous glee we find ourselves laughing as Bush delivers another mis-said word. Even more confusing is our inability to tell real news from rag-mag context. Case in point- the way we hung on every word “Miss” Hilton said as though those words came straight out of some holy grail message detailing how to achieve global peace.
In a recent CNN article Stephen King was quoted from a Time Magazine interview. In the interview he pondered who should be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. He said, because he felt the news media has been inundated with entertainment gossip at the expense of real news- perhaps maybe Time should have named someone like Britney Spears as Person of the Year.
“[I told ‘Nightline,’] ‘You guys are just covering — what do they call it — the scream of the peacock, and you’re missing the whole fox hunt.’ Like waterboarding [or] where all the money went that we poured into Iraq. It just seems to disappear.”
King went on to say, “And yet you get this coverage of who’s gonna get custody of Britney’s kids? … You’ve got these things going on … that could affect all of us, and instead, you see a lot of this back-fence gossip.”
Mr. King has hit the nail on the head. (my use of the nail on the head cliché is exactly the type of useless dribble Orwell complained about. Although clichés were frowned upon, in Orwell’s opinion they certainly took second place when it came to grammar’s downfall. High brow double talk took first prize especially when used only in the effort to sound intelligent or to confuse the issues. Sadly the news media is allowing this kind of double talk to go on endlessly in so many of their new political talk shows. Once the ducks have all stop talking we still do not get the kind of political news that informs our decisions. Instead we get the Hollywood Factor. The degradation of the news media is troubling to say the least and when crossed over into the political arena it is even more troubling. Instead of great coverage we end up with who did what with whom last night. I cannot speak for others but I would rather find out who is doing what for my country.
The news media is not wholly to blame, however. The politicians are seemingly nothing but puppets of their parties these days. Where are the great leaders we once had? Maybe they have gone the way of bedroom reporting I don’t know. What I do know is- our inability to use language as a great tool has led us down the path of confusion and distrust. We no longer receive information in clear and concise ways, and because of this we no longer have a true understanding of our political leaders. We are seeing less intelligent newscasts and more programming containing information that caters to the gossip mongers. As a society we seem to have lost our ability to speak and write with any kind of substance. In the political arena great speeches seem to be a thing of the past.
Even when a speech is delivered with absolute sincerity all meaning gives way to redundant rhetoric. Each candidate repeats what the other has said. Unfortunately in an effort to stand out from the rest, each speech is written with increasingly confusing language. But when dissected the speech contains the same message, albeit from opposing sides.
Here is a novel idea! Why not have the candidate themselves write his or her own speech? It might not sound as intelligent but it might be less confusing, and dammit we might find some truth within. I do not think I am alone in my wish for truth in politics. I do not want my politicians confusing the issues with double talk. I do not want to hear what the last guy said, and I do not want to hear an opposing argument just because it is from an opposing party leader.
As for the news media. I have but one thing to say. Stop the insanity I want to get off.
The journalistic papers and TV programs are nothing but paparazzi and cannot be called real news outlets if the majority of their “news” is Hollywood or political gossip. I remember when one such program first started. They claimed to be a hard-hitting news program, and when the program first started they were. Their coverage of the war in the Middle East launched them into the spotlight. In those first years the program was source of good relevant news that people could watch and learn from. While the station is still a source for many good news stories, lately they have deteriorated along side of so many other news programs. More and more of their stories contain nothing but jiggles and giggles. They now have their own gossip show under the guise of real news. Unfortunately they are in jeopardy of becoming just another news program that has been destroyed by the “Hollywood Gland Slide.”
If we learn anything from Mr. Orwell’s essay it should be- if you are going to say it, say it honestly, clearly and with simplistic elegance. I have not achieved what Orwell would have like within this post, but I am not a reporter, writer, or politician. I have not professed to be a person who delivers “the truth”, nor have I chosen to be a person who has asked to be believed, or asked for your trust in running your city or country. These people must begin to say what they mean, and mean what they say, and do it without resorting to confusing language or double talk.
So reporters and politicians- I have a quest for you. I, who am but a poor servant within your land, do hereby send you on a quest to achieve truth in your message to the masses, clarity of thought transferred to paper by quill, (or keyboard to computer) and last but not least, draft us a message that contains relevant, honest and thoughtful information to be delivered in the same manner. Go henceforth and bring this quest to fruition. Sincerely your humble servant. Colleen Hannah