Earlier this semester I reinforce my knowledge about couple of concepts; but these reinforcements only brought more questions based on current events shaking the country these days. As an Interactive Media student I must learn about the history of communications; how interactive media applications have integrated different forms to communicate, but particularly how immediate and mediated forms of communication affect the content delivered, and how society is absorbing these messages.
- Morality: Ability to distinguish well from wrong, good from bad.
- Ethics: A set of moral rules of good conduct that guide ones actions.
- Libel: Defamatory or harmful written statement.
- Slender: Defamatory or harmful spoken statement.
November 2nd 2010, The United States Senate will experience another elections period. Thirty seven of one hundred seats will be in dispute in just few days. Thirty four of these seats will be secured for a six year period, while the other three are for shorter periods. Securing a job for six years is a must have in these economic troubled times. I guess that’s why the battles are so fierce; all contenders start nice and neat, only broadcasting their own ideas and how they pretend to fix “Washington” once they take over that seat. But as deadline approaches, everything turns dirty; all contenders start throwing low blows and pointing fingers to the opposite side.
I can understand some of the finger pointing actually comes from independent advocacy groups; but is it really “ethical and moral” to expose other contenders mistakes or points of views only in electoral times? Is it “libel or slender” to incur in such negative messages, portraying the other side as the bad guy trying to harm the roots of this country? Does a candidate flunk in “moral and ethics” when approved a message full of negativism against opponent instead of keep focusing in his own agenda? Does a contender falls into “libel or slender” when approved a defamatory message that can actually damage other person reputation? If these candidates or advocacy groups are really worried about the future of their district, why they don’t fight all year long instead of only electoral times? The country crusade against terror from extremist groups was really exploited by the Bush administration; creating a new way to influence the voters by imposing fear onto them. This new strategy is now used again to influence society on how to cast their votes in the 2010 election.
What is really interesting is the role of media and how money plays a big impact in the elections. Thursday October 14th, while watching local news from 17:00 to 17:30, ten political ads air on KCTV5; meaning at least three on each commercial cut. Monday, October 18th in local NBC station, at least six political ads air from 18:25 to 18:30 one after another. The amount of media exposure truly depends on how much money a candidate can raised. In the book “The Obama Victory: How media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election” the authors exposed how candidates with big chunks of money can easily target specific demographics groups in crucial geographic areas (“Microtargeting”); showing how money spent on ads for these groups interests really translated into votes. Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook also played a big role enhancing democracy by reaching to young open minded voters.
The role of media in regards of people perceptions about the Republican Party has been indeed a major factor affecting voter’s attitude. The Republican Party is now doing every impossible effort to reach followers and earn their trust before deadline. Couple of months ago, prior to the primaries, I received an automated call from Sarah Palin (at least that was what the recording message said) encouraging my household to vote and terminate the Obama regime. On Monday Oct 18th I received a call from the Johnson County Republican Party asking if a Republican candidate would win my favors. Political ads are flooding the air, the web, sidewalks, empty lands, and now even telephone lines. Which bring even more questions again: How are these candidates raising money? Who in their right mind will invest their money in these candidates without expecting some earnings or profits back? I mean, that is the basics of economics, right? What political favors are these candidates promising to their sponsors in return for their endorsements? What influence would these sponsors have in the elected candidate when time to enforce or interpret a law that could potentially damage their economic well is needed? Is the whole system falling over greed and corruption nested by lobbies groups? (Perhaps a topic for next entry).
A retweet by @proflafferty (Patrick Lafferty – Assistance Professor of Interactive Media at JCCC) took me to an interesting posting by Andrea Nill in “News from underground.” The article reports that Latinos for Reform had spent $80,000.00 to buy in Univison air time to encourage Latinos in Nevada not to vote; this in protest for the lack of immigration reform promised by Obama and other broken promises from both political parties. Which take me back to my original questions: Is it moral and ethical spending all that money to deliver such negative content? Since casting a vote is not only a citizen’s right, but a civic obligation, will Univision incurred into a crime other than greed by accepting that money and broadcast a message against basics of civil rights? Latinos played a significant role in 2008 elections, giving their votes to the Democratic Party in protest of racist republicans and their lack of attention to Hispanics. Since some Republicans keep the same racist line on these elections, it will be a win for them if Latinos don’t vote; a political game they are expecting to win. What republicans don’t see is that the game they started could turn into a boomerang, and will return back to them eventually. By the way, Univison announced same night the news was out there that they won’t air those ads as they firmly believe in democracy.
With media broadcasting numbers of jobs lost in recent months, economics still dragging, and the fear injected to society like a hypodermic drug by some unscrupulous politics using mass media, is not a surprise why people are so angry. So many cases of taxation without representation are creating a new collective conscience in society. People are tired of what they see and hear from the people who swear would represent them. A government of the people, by the people, for the people is literally forgetting the essential ingredient here: “PEOPLE.” Some basic fears of using media trying to reach followers, is that a candidate can lose credibility if beg for favors before they have started a conversation, and that’s exactly what all these candidates are begging for, but mass media is praying upon that!
Unfortunately, we are living a new era of propaganda, a new era that arrived to stay, a new era where media plays a significant persuader in publics opinion; an era in where airing the dirty laundry to public via mass media is going to be on daily basis each election time. As digital divide closes in, more people around the globe will see how falling into libel and/or slender statements will feed the media more often; morbid will take place over morality and ethics. Why? Because when you get into the business, the business gets into you!