Pictures That Are Worth a Word or Two

It struck me as I was reading a comment offered by reader Cha that the picture of the Philippines that we see from viewing television news or newspaper reports or blogs is highly distorted. It does not present an accurate picture of the Philippines. Indeed, because of its inaccuracy, reflected in our joint ignorance, buying into that view may be destructive. Or at least punishing.
Now I’ve known this for years, since my graduate school days studying communication arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. My Masters Thesis dealt with the “biases among audiences of entertainment programs”. But it is good now and then to re-raise the warning flags.
The biggest danger is if a person has only one or two sources of information, those comfortable and  “likable” TV shows, newspapers or magazines. People who limit their information sources to, say, Fox News in the U.S., or ABS-CBN in the Philippines, are likely to operate in a distorted reality. Fox viewers will be obdurately and radically conservative and hostile to opposing thought. ABS-CBN viewers will believe the Philippines revolves around entertainment stars and murder.
It’s okay to have a few extremists, but when extremism becomes the mainstream, as it has in America, it is very damaging. If our view of things is inaccurate, our opinions and decisions are likely to be wrong. Or at least sorely limited.
What is generally left out of modern mass media and its ratings-driven sensationalism? Well, ordinary success stories for one thing. People doing their small increments of good work that aren’t splashy enough to draw attention. Aren’t bloody enough.
You know, that leaves out a lot, eh?
  • It leaves in the dysfunction and mistakes and conflicts and harms.
  • It leaves out the achievements and the growth and the brilliance and the dedicated hard work.
That is frightening, when you think about it. What is being presented is a picture of chaos and failure. The truth is that there is tremendous stability and huge amounts of good work being done across the Philippine nation.
A perfect picture is rare. We can not get perfection in our readings and viewings because we don’t have enough time to read everything and research what we don’t understand. But we can do a better job by viewing and reading a variety of sources, from conservative to liberal, comfortable to uncomfortable.
We can also do a better job if we understand the premise from which media outlets operate. What their goal is. For-profit outlets like Fox hope to carve out a sizable and steady and rich audience (predominantly older white Americans) to attract advertisers. ABS-CBN seeks a broad emotional audience that will watch their entertainment shows. And their overload of advertising. Blog sites like Get Real seek a mass audience much as Fox does; to make money, and gain influence. And make more money. Agenda. Be aware of the agenda.
If you were to read Chinese newspapers about the conflict over islands in the South/West China/Philippine Sea, you would see the dangers of limited information. The picture Chinese media paint of the Philippines is that of a hostile, trouble-making nation. China is painted as the steadfast, principled nation of righteous behavior.
Are we also being led down wrong paths by what we read and view?
It’s good to keep our limited awareness in mind. We all tote at least a six-pack of ignorance. Some haul a case or two.
Skepticism is healthy.
The more open minded we can be, and the more aggressive at searching out information and reflecting on opposing views, the less ignorant we will be.
The goal of an intelligent person is not to be right in an argument. It is to be accurate in knowledge.
7 Responses to “Pictures That Are Worth a Word or Two”
  1. EQ says:

    Hey, Joe:“At long last, the Philippines looks poised to resume a period of strong growth. The new president, Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, probably has just enough support, and looks likely to generate just enough reform momentum to get the job done.” From Breakout Nations by Ruchir Sharma

  2. There are certainly signs that this is true. I hope so.

  3. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: the cricket)1. The responsibilities of "news-magazines" and the dailynews-hard-press (two of the four legs of the "fourth-estate"are being ignored daily in our island pair-a-dice (commonlycalled a "crap-shoot" by the underpaid, underemployed, 30%unemployed-suffering masses and child labor slaves)!Note: I wish that the media would police themselves but asthey apparently cannot then a federall department must beput in place to regulate and inspect these very importantelements of a democratic society.2. The PREZ agenda may be a good one (and I think it is orcan be if left to bear fruit) but the bottom line is thatthe "rot" and "rust" in the judiciary, government and most ofall "BROUGHT OFF CONGRESS" are the determining factors!We the people deserve good and sufficient evidencethat the public service and protection is in centerof the stage-not the wellbeing of a few rich/greedy/powerful/ego-centric developers and dynastic families!Perhaps a published "progress" report of the nation,island, region, provence, community would help inproviding a "showcase" for progress that would bea wonderful "yardstick" to assist in our futuregrowth and success–in fact a whoe TV-radio stationprograming schedule would be of imense benefit to thenation (somethin like public tv)!If indeed we see no progress by this time next year weneed to have a "termination"/"extermination"-"Impeach-ment" -FLUSH-OUT -as a coat of paint will not cover up the rust and rot that keep infesting our islands!chirp!

  4. Corruption is the ice berg, water the nation's values. What do you figure Corona's conviction did to the temperature of the water? I figure SALN's will be done better and will get a lot more scrutiny. What do you figure the firing of 31 DENR officials will do to the water (they did not stop illegal logging)? I figure it will warm in across the nation. There is not an intense focus on Customs, a den of corruption. It may explode like a geyser. So while I agree with you the problems are widespread, I think it is very different than two years ago. And it takes a while to warm oceans.

  5. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-E (aka: the Cricket)1. Warm seas are now eating away at the land mass Isuggest CYI, get a lifeboat, grow a set of gills, etc.!2. I wish I could wake up in a real "south pacific"paradise instead of "nightmare island" that has beenspun up by the propaganda-media/tourist-"paint" team to benefit the "masters"! Notice realtiy when 90%to 95% of the citizens cannot afford a nite at a bed and breakfast, keeping child prostitutes-slaves anda community of captive "breeders" to service the rich,fat cats/greedy developers and a church/education/government system full of criminals full of hot air and BS-(the lack of successful results-reality/fruits)!I leave the list of "screw-ups" to the reader to list for brevity sake).!3. A fire storm is fed by dry/old/dead- worn out stuff, a hot wind, and mis-management–a paint-job just feeds theconsuming "illwinds"!4. The realitiy of a congress, judiciary, governmentand church that feeds itself before feeding the nation–serving and protecting themsevles first will doomany SONA! In my heart and mind I do not believe thatthis is what anyone deserves as a citizen and if sothen they are not citizens but slaves!5. A nation fed larges doses of greed,lies, deceptionand decit will soon be a dead nation! 6. I understand that during SONA only the rich areinvited to the "feasting table"…vampires and leeches on the nation! Shame, shame, shame!7. The only question is who will sit next to thehost at the head of the table…and who is leftto sit at the last "feeding" seat! Shame, shame!8. Cynical I may be–please show me I am wrongby the right actions/fruits/results that should beproduced by this time next year….the ghost ofchrist-mass past (or show me the "christ-pissed)!True or false? Rituals and traditions do no oneany good when they have no food to eat, a healthyenvironment, a living family wage,etc…!)Me thinks that if it smells like a skunk, lookslike a skunk, walks like a skunk, it must bea real live skunk and no amount of "paint job"will produce any thing but a skunk in fact ortruth! Question: Will anyone "spike the puch bowl"before it is too late to make water intowine?chirp!

  6. Anonymous says:

    From: The cricketOverheard from in the hospital surgery waitingroom; "We we got some good news and some bad news…the good news is that we removed the cancer…the bad news is that it was too late and thepatient died on the operating table"!Now you know the "rest of the story" chirp!

  7. Ah, rituals and traditions are sometimes the only thing the hungry and poor have. Indeed, that is partly the popularity of the Church.Take care, Jim-e, that you don't get too sour on things. It removes the fun that can be found if you look at things a little differently.

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