It has not exactly been a great start for 2011. The two most notable events are the megaquake and tsunami in Japan, and the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Watching the news over the last 10 days has been traumatic and thought provoking; we live in interesting times and the outcomes can only be guessed at. We can be sure that camera phones will be recording every step, and the Internet will be transmitting these images all over the world.
Talk of apocalypse in 2012, as portrayed by the movie ‘2012’, is absurd and a fantasy that is as likely to happen as the predicted apocalypse at the end of the 20th century. The real news is the fight for political power in the Arab countries. The plight of young Arabs has played on the heart strings of people all over the world and the successes in Tunisia and Egypt have given hope. The current situation in Libya it seemed had the whole world calling for action to stop the brutal onslaught of Gaddafi’s men. The U.N. agreed on a no-fly zone which was backed by the Arab league. After two nights of bombing, the French, British and Americans are again looking like heavy handed imperialists with no regard for human life.
What struck me today is how the media can change the outlook of a given situation (nothing ground breaking there), and how fast they can produce that change. The other problem is that we can never really know the truth, only the truth according to certain news agencies. The TV and the Internet will become the battle field for hearts and minds, as was the radio during the early part of the 20th century.
The question will be who can we trust to report accurate news? Maybe the answer is that we can’t trust anyone particular source but we must check as many different news organisations as is reasonably possible. Cross referencing information is the job of any responsible person trying to keep up with the ‘truth’. Over the last two weeks I have moved away from relying on the Internet for news as I find it static. TV news tends to report the fresh information before it is put up online, the TV is proving to be more significant in the world of news reporting than the Internet. The real ingenuity of the Internet is the ease of access for billions of people. Anybody can create an email account and send out information to the opposite side of the world in an instant; or log on to a video sharing site and post up a video depicting graphic violence in the hope people will see it. Often the TV uses images that have been buzzing around the Internet for weeks; the average user of the Internet finds it hard to trawl through the massive amounts of information available on the Web. TV Web researchers do this at great speed and then the TV news agencies can project those images straight at the masses.
In the future people be need to become more efficient at utilising the Web and stop be so passive in what information they intake. The Web offers all of us a unique opportunity to research for ourselves instead of relying on others to do it for us. There is no harm in checking Arab news agencies to see their side of things or going through sites that have videos of war violence to see for yourself what is really going on.
A healthy mix of North American, European, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, Russian, African and South American news never hurt anybody. The Internet provides all of this for us and it will even translate it for you.