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Are our values being re-engineered?

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We have been assailed recently with seemingly endless media reports on the death of a soldier in Iraq. He wasn't in action at the time of his death but was in his barracks and in the company of other soldiers.

Clearly this was a tragic accident but surely it was not an event of world shattering significance.

The reports were front page in the press and head of all the TV news programs. It all got much worse when it was revealed that the wrong body had been repatriated to Australia.

The peak of this media frenzy was the report that the grieving widow had been able to get the Prime Minister out of bed to take a telephone call from her in which, it is reported, she gave him a tongue lashing.

More recently we had a very small mining accident in Tasmania with three men were trapped underground after a rock fall caused by a small earthquake.

The extent of the reporting of this incident was as over the top as for the other story.

The news that two of the men had been found alive gave rise to live reports from the town at every advertising break in the TV programme we were watching. These reports were quite repetitive and were so long that, with the ads themselves, the thread of the story of the film we were watching was quite disrupted and I was unable to watch it to the end.

My point is that there is almost no news coverage of the major world events such as the Darfur tragedy where nearly half a million innocent civilians have been killed in a "civil" war.

I believe that the organs of the media in Australia have abdicated their responsibility to keep the community informed about events which are important to us and have adopted a policy of "maximize the ratings whatever it takes", a policy driven by greed in the quest for ever greater profits.

More sceptically, I might suggest that those in control of the selection of what news to deliver are part of a conspiracy to change the way we see the world. We live in a world where our societies are managed by people who have been "infected" with a belief in the omnipotence of the market and it is to their advantage that the body politic at large stop believing that real ethical values are more important that money.

This possibility arises in my mind because every TV news broadcast now includes details of the results of the stock market "trading" for the day and the daily variations in the exchange rates of our currency against at least four other currencies. I have asked a number of people do they ever find a use for this information and generally the answer is "Of course not". The effect of this particular kind of "news" is, I think, to make the measure of the health of our society to be "market" measures rather than the real parameters which would be used in a fair and equitable society where the rights of every individual are important and are protected.

This engineering of the "values" of the audience would fuel the improvement in ratings which come from the overblown reporting of local happenings as though they were the most important events in the world.

I long for a quiet revolution in our political system which would re-instate ethical values to their rightful place in our society.

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Created: 1/5/06 and last revised 11/9/06
Author: Robin Chalmers Copyright in all the material on this site is asserted by the author
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