MEDIA ROOTS- Earlier this year I had the opportunity to interview Peter Phillips, former head of Project Censored, undoubtedly one of the most crucial independent media projects in the country. Project Censored exposes stories that are suppressed by the mainstream media and publishes an annual book showcasing the year’s top 25 most censored stories. The insights he shared caused me to re-evaluate just how important the media has become in shaping our perceived reality.
Many people think that if they haven’t seen an issue addressed on television or by mainstream newspapers that it either doesn’t exist or must not be important. But there are many reasons why significant stories that affect millions of people don’t hit the airwaves.
Since the corporate takeover of the media, we have been seeing more and more consolidation of control in regards to filtering what news we see and do not see. The more one investigates who is behind the scenes, the more one uncovers vast conflicts of interest between the corporate elites’ business goals and the media’s initial purpose of getting “real” information to the masses.
Ideally, the role of the media in a democracy is to keep the population in the know. If vital issues are not addressed or evaluated rigorously by mainstream press, and if 85% of Americans still get their news strictly from television, an enormous cluster of people is adrift in a sea of unrealized ignorance. A democracy only functions properly when the voters are well informed on the people and issues that impact their lives, so that they be choose their representation with their best interests at heart.
It is imperative to seek out alternative news and media for a more balanced look at the world. Only by seeing different sides to every story can we properly contextualize the information we are fed through the corporate media. Peter Phillips brought up a great point when I tried to ask him how we can break through to mainstream audiences. He said that first we need to understand and show how corporate news specializes in irrelevant disinformation (he called it “infotainment”). Then, we need to start funding, supporting and participating in the renaissance of independent and grassroots media.