I am inspired to write about media matters today because in this media-driven society, media matters more than ever before. It is everywhere (print, online, social media). We are bombarded by media all day every day but how much do we really learn from all of this media scrutiny?
When it comes to politics and many other issues, many of us gravitate to media outlets that tend to validate the positions we already hold. That’s OK but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate hearing all sides (even if hearing the other side does not usually persuade me to change my opinion). Just hearing both views is a valuable exercise.
Towards that end, I bring you The Week. A friend and business colleague, Arno Szegvari, who was kind enough to purchase a subscription for me, introduced me to this weekly magazine. To be honest, I initially thought it was fluff and didn’t really get into it. Then one day, I was sitting in my reading chair and found the latest issue of The Week nearby and give it a read. The Week is not really a news magazine. It is more like an online directly that gathers opinions from numerous sources on both sides of issues of the week and runs snippets of columns so in the course of a page or 2, you can see how the various pundits on both sides weighed in on a topic. So whether it is stem cell research, AIG bonuses or the threat of Pakistan, it’s all there. A virtual primer of the week’s news from all sides. The Week does not take a side. They simply provide all positions and leave it to you to use your brain (a novel idea). Unlike a more substantial publication on the media like Columbia Journalism Review, The Week is not intense reading but it does get you up to speed in a short period of time and in these times, there’s something to be said for that.
On a similar note, the BBC has a radio show called “World Have Your Say.” This hour long show runs on many NPR stations in the states and is also broadcast all over the world via the BBC (after all, they are the BBC). The great thing about this show is that they start with an interesting topic and then have some “experts” on to provide some substance and then they open it up for phone calls, e-mails, etc. from all over the world. During our last political cycle, it was very interesting to hear how callers from Africa, India and the Middle East (among others) viewed our process. Even though The World Is Flat as Thomas Friedman’s book notes, we are still living in the bubble that is the United States. Most of us do not get perspective on how we are viewed outside our country unless we are world travelers.
If you are reading this in NE Ohio, the show is broadcast on WCPN, the NPR outlet in Cleveland from 1-2:00 PM weekdays. 90.3 on your radio dial. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Finally, if I may stretch the word media to include the “media” found inside your fortune cookie in Chinese restaurants, I had the pleasure of opening up such a fortune at a recent visit to my local China Gourmet. Although most of these small pieces of wonderment are throwaways, the last one I got was quite interesting. It read:
“Ability will enable a man to get to the top, but character will keep him from falling.” I couldn’t help but think of Bernie Madoff when I read that. If the fortune fits. . .