Beyond The Mainstream Media: Understanding The Food Crisis genre: Econ-Recon & Video-Philes

When I traveled around the world, one of the most notable differences was the character and content of television news. The primary distinction seems to be a matter of depth...meaning the news in other regions isn't just presented in short sound bites. Granted, we have programs in the U.S. that provide detailed reports on topics of interest, however, they are in short supply when compared to many other countries and they aren't typically included as part and parcel of the traditional news cycle.

The following segment, from al Jazeera, on the growing global food crisis is an example of the kind of reporting we see less of in the United States. The report is a lengthy discussion intended to provide some understanding of the factors that are contributing to the food crisis as well as to explore the changes or solutions that might help alleviate it.

It is also notable in the format in which it is presented. When watching U.S. news...primarily on cable networks...the format usually includes participants with two diametrically opposing views offering the talking points of their political constituents and attempting to talk over each segments that might last at most ten minutes...and frequently far shorter.

To understand the distinction, I would offer that the U.S. equivalent wouldn't be found in television broadcasting - rather it is in fact National Public Radio (NPR). If you've listened to NPR, they frequently explore topics that are receiving sparse coverage on the television networks. One can also find more in-depth stories on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) though many of these programs follow the network format that includes a point - counterpoint approach.

Granted, my observations are more anecdotal than scientific but I suspect there is merit none the less. It appears that we Americans have become content with receiving our news in abbreviated form...delivered by partisans sharing talking points that have first been vetted by focus groups. I think it would make more sense if the American voter functioned like the focus group...taking the time to explore the ins and outs of a topic before making any conclusions while skipping the partisan spoon feeding we've come to accept. Don't hold your breath on that happening any time soon.

If you'll take the time to watch the following report, I suspect you may concur with my speculation. Regardless, you will certainly learn that the food crisis is far more complex than can be explained in thirty seconds. It might also demonstrate that our efforts to reduce every issue to a two-sided topic fully ignores that our world needs to be understood as a complicated multi-dimensional construct whereby every action has the potential for unintended consequences. Finally, it might begin to explain why much of the rest of the world has begun to suspect that Americans are increasingly tone deaf.

Understanding The Food Crisis - Part One

Understanding The Food Crisis - Part Two

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Our understanding of the world around us is often delivered to us by the mainstream media in short sound bites. Globalization makes our limited awareness a liability. The current food crisis is an excellent example of our need to view issues beyond our... [Read More]

Tracked on May 16, 2008 10:49 AM

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