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May-15-2008 19:58printcomments

Op Ed: When 'Unsustainable'
What DOES One Finally DO?

MSMedia Failings Lulling Nation Into “Unsustainable” Abject Apathy
Ernie Pyle was the nation's best known reporter when he was killed in 1945 while covering WWII combat operations at Okinawa; it was at the Ernie Pyle journalism building, at Indiana University, where Hank Ruark first learned about “reform the MainStreamMedia” movement.

(EUGENE, Ore.) - More than thirty years ago, when the thinking public finally found its frustration-even-then beyond silence-any-longer, the now-essential “reform the MainStreamMedia” movement began.

Along with others learning about media, I attended one such very-early session --where else than on a leading university campus. The very first speaker began thus: “This is an unsustainable situation, and will lead to absolutely unsustainable consequences for our democracy.”

He was reporting from one of the early studies done re already-obvious “failings of the mainstream media”.

Many similar studies have followed over decades since then. Every one of them, drawing from already-then demonstrably very damaging experiences and unavoidably denigrating circumstances, confirmed that probing diagnosis, way back then.

How absolutely RIGHT that early-activist --and his many colleagues since,-- have turned out to be.

That RIGHT is no pun, but perhaps the best possible direction to look, politically speaking, for reasons “right-on-the-money”.

Tons of far right talk-radio, intended to overwhelm certain key segments of our population targeted by deep-pocketed purveyors of political provenance; and plenitudes of paper-published media, provided often by some of the same cabal, have since then succeeded in seducing far too many once-ethical and consumer/community-oriented journalists into now-regarded professional downfall by participation.

The money and the Far Right are both the primary and the secondary causes for what we are now suffering unsustainability for sure! - as the easily-foretold consequences of what, even then, far back in history measured by today’s speed-of-event, was already obvious; and enraging an essential component of those who have now become the current generation.

That fateful duality is deeply entwined in all that has driven the vaunted American free press into its --yes, “unsustainable” --current decline, with devastating damages to the democratic concept and process at every turn on our road into the 21st Century.

Please pardon my pointing finger; it is shaking from intense and deep professional feeling, built over those painful decades since that fateful-forecasting session.

Ironically, it took place in the Ernie Pyle journalism building, at Indiana University.

Just as ironically, that movement has failed us miserably to produce the kinds of essential change we know far too well must happen if many more Americans are really to know and understand the most essential decisions now demanded of citizens in any democracy, for the 21st Century.

Every few months since that session in the Ernie Pyle meeting room, somebody, somewhere in the public dialog in print or on radio and then tv-news-- has been stating and re-stating and repeating the same obvious situations, events, “trends”: unfailingly with long-lists of unforeseen consequences.

In later years we’ve suffered even more via pundit-programs full of pernicious prognostications, many leading to those “unsustainabilities”. There have even been some books published, one can safely say. My own shelf of them (momentarily measured !) is more than seven feet long and still constantly growing longer --and heavier, too!

No pundit worth his prognostications ever fails to “do a book” on each and every topic, issue, event, or debacle, it doth seem.

What is 'new and differen'” --surely a news-criterion well worth some attention here --is that NOW millions of Americans are being swept up into a tipping-point, 'take it or leave it' election-choice.

That is sure to set fire to further millions either way the vote goes.

The plain fact is this election is FINALLY forcing those millions to come to the inevitable conclusion that the mainstream media has become one of the worst --if not the down-pitching leader of the whole procession-- of such “unsustainable” events/situations/debacles.

They are learning the hard way, how little they really do know, much less understand, of the multiple, complex and competing issues, problems, and coming events shaping every life now-and-forever.

Few will question the depth and detail NOW demanded for 21st Century American citizenship, well obscured by so many interests --some close to controlling our “free press” --for their own, perhaps malign, purposes.

These Americans are learning the hard way the same basic and inevitable lessons about governance “of the people, by the people, FOR the people” that our Founding Fathers fathomed out for themselves, all those generations ago; reflected since then in massive actions to extend and build a world-leading nation famed for “the wondrous American Dream”; and in a Civil War, too --meant to settle once-and-for-all generations one specific, highly emotional, and mythical misapprehension still manipulated for political purpose.

We are informed, at double-speed and triple-length, of each and every “unsustainability” by too many pundit-and-editorialist publications and pronouncements: The national debt; the national budget; the dollar-costs of TWO wars; the terrible blood-and-tragedy drains of those wars; the inevitability of a THIRD war; even “the pending collapse of our own climate”, of Earth-environment; and of the food supply and water supply; the finance system, the mortgage system;the education system, the healthcare system, the transport system; as well as a whole list of other life-essential accomplishments of this, our complex 21st Century civilization.

We know, too, that some of those are 'truth-and-consequence for what we’ve done to our own civilization.' But which ones? and WHY? WHAT do we DO, NOW?

Those are deep understandings and desperate know-how about which we should have been well-informed (read “educated” !) long ago by our vaunted “free press”, once thought entirely capable-and-demanded as an essential for democratic governance.

Given all the modern means and multiple channels for full-impact information transfer within our rapidly technologically-multiplying culture, there is really no reason --rational or irrational -- to permit anything like the extremely damaging depth-debacle into which we have allowed ourselves to be cast; not alone by circumstance, but by overwhelming --and truly unsustainable!-- abject apathy.

That’s the intolerable status into which we’ve let far too many millions in America be driven by their growing economic, cultural and social frustrations and disturbances; aided and abetted by media seeking “profits uber alles” --and, always, “the ratings on which those profits necessarily depend.”

In all truth, as we are learning painfully now, the one “unsustainability” we must, somehow, completely and forcibly now correct is that of the MainSteamMedia itself.

MainStreamMedia impacts, contacts, and other convolutions, inescapably, inevitably, inexorably shape every operating segment and every set of issues-and-problems in our civilization.

What CAN we STILL do about this final frustration, now fueling for more millions the feeling that they no longer can control their small-segment of world-and-civilization; that their place in our once-potent/and/powerful community-cooperation culture has long ago been swept away; and that they “no longer count for anything --except to vote-as-instructed”. Ironically, pretty much “as-told” by the media”.

But the vote is true people-power, as potent as YOU make it by how YOU will use it. On May 20th, right here in home-state Oregon, you get your shot.

USE IT wisely and well. It may be the last time you everi will have as great an opportunity to make the choice which can still shape the world --and even unhorse the MainStreamMedia!

Purposeful change MUST start with those not only willing but completely competent and ready to make it, however painful it may be...

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Henry Ruark May 17, 2008 11:33 am (Pacific time)

Sinclair et al: Forgot to mention recent major magazing article by Gingrich --of all persons !--stating precisely last comment re Bush failure, albeit reluctantly and in somewhat coded language. He bewails terible state of former strong party, now in near-fatal disarray after shot in vulnerable body-areas by eight years of historic and irreversible debacle. Will find cut and send link soon.

Henry Ruark May 16, 2008 12:39 pm (Pacific time)

Sinclair et al: Have you ever checked out the Bush record vs Hayek's steps to serfdom ? Do so for still further clarification of what always happens when small determined cabal sets out to en-serf all others, via economic, social and political means here, but sometimes simple brute force, as in medieval village-at-foot of castle !!

Henry Ruark May 16, 2008 8:41 am (Pacific time)

Sinclair et al: Problem with Hayek's plaint is that most of his points fit far more closely and in deeply damaging fashion on political premise he tries to defend. History before-and-since, with success of some societies socialist in many ways, defies his definition of inevitable outcomes he tries to defend. IF you wish offsetting reality, ID self to Editor Tim and will send pile of PDF's with varying views, but all drive home point of Hayek as propagandizing point of view, strongly expressed.

Sinclair G May 16, 2008 7:26 am (Pacific time)

Read Friederich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”. In that fairly short book he tells us why socialism will always fail, and points out specifically that people who want power are almost always the very ones you don’t want to get it. They want power because they have a view of how life and society should be, and they intend to make us all hew to that vision, no matter how wrong or destructive it may be.

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