Friday, March 9, 2012

The insidious corruption of the media

I like reading the daily newspaper. I enjoy trawling across the internet to get a 'fix' of international news via the sites of SMH, NYT, DT, RCP. I am grateful for what is given by the media by way of news and opinion. Most of the time I am a voyeur on the world around me, connected to that world by the communication threads spun by the media. But sometimes the reality of my world and the depiction of that world clash and I am confronted by the discordant pain of reality being misrepresented. Mention that to friends and the uniform response is "they have to sell their newspapers" (i.e., "they (TV) have to sell their advertising slots").

But is not earning money via mischief, deception and manipulation a form of corruption? And when some organisation always makes its money by that means, is it not an insidiousness at work in the heart of the community?

The current furore over the decision of the diocesan authorities to bring the cathedral down to safe levels (an effective demolition) brings home to those of us who cherish our diocese, our bishop, our people's safety, as well as the cathedral, the insidious corruption of the media. The media is playing the conflict up for all it is worth, but are not telling us that the conflict is between a few voicing unreasonable thoughts (we can rebuild it cheaply, we ought to save it whatever the cost, the City Council can do the job) and the many sane and sensible Anglicans and non-Anglicans of Christchurch who see the cathedral for what it now is, terminally ill and tragically dying.

This article makes an excellent point (yes, it is a media article - the media is not a complete basket case) that two different current affairs programmes on Wednesday nights made two opposing points about the state of mind of the population. How could they?! There is only one population here.

Even though one show got the state of mind of the population correct (bring the cathedral down for safety reasons), it was a bitter sweet programme because it gave most air time to an engineer who said the most absurd things: fixing it would only cost $20m but might take ten years. Yeah, right. Showing some quake damaged palace in Haiti as a potentially fixable building told us what? Oh, that's right, if we turned our country into one of the most corrupt places on earth, kept people living in tents for decades, we too could fix the cathedral. Yeah, right.

There is one and only one honest line of investigation the media need to take on the cathedral: show us the money. The cathedral is obviously fixable and restorable: it was made by human hands from accessible materials and it could be remade by humans hands and accessible materials.* It would just take a colossal sum of money, of the sort only the Prime Minister and government, or a consortium of wildly rich people can provide. Our journalists only need to make two or three phone calls to determine whether the Diocese should have made a different decision: to John Key or to our few really, really rich people and ask whether they are stumping up.

Every indication so far is that they are not. A government minister went on one show to confirm the diocese has made the right decision. A golden opportunity for him to tell the nation about an open cheque being given to fund the restoration. Noticeably he did not take that opportunity.

Meanwhile, in the real world of no money (relative to the government rightly assisting as best it can the whole nation, and to really rich people funding sport - the true universal religion of New Zealand), the media are making their bucks at the church's expense. And at the expense of all the people and organisations and realities they consistly misrepresent.

Ouch. That makes me part of the corruption every time I pay my newspaper sub and buy advertised products!

*Admittedly the genius of carver Frederick Guernsey might be hard to replace.

8 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

Jolly good article, Peter, You may have noticed my 'Press' letter this morning, referring to what I have said was a 'media beat-up' of the Bishop, the Anglican Church, and the Diocese. Sainsbury need a good spank.

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, I did read it, and it is a very good letter, Ron!

Shawn said...

I have long since stopped watching/reading mainstream news. I get the headlines on Teletext, and thats enough. If I could afford Sky I would watch Fox News, which is biased, but at least does not pretend otherwise, and it is one of the few that is biased in a way I generally agree with.

Part of the problem may be financial incentive, though there are plenty of state funded media outlets (the BBC) that are notorious for certain kinds of bias, especially anti-American and anti-Israel bias.

I believe that a major part of the problem is cultural. By and large media workers and journalists in the West are sourced from the same class culture, what could be called upper-middle class latte liberals and chardonnay socialists, many of whom are Christianitie's "cultured despisers".

Thus any coverage of Christian/Church issues is always from the very worst angle possible

I saw this some months ago in a 20/20 article about a Presbyterian church on the North Shore where the "pastor" had begun placing pagan/middle eastern idols on the altar and encouaraging her congregation to pray to them.

Naturally the leadership of the Presbyterian Church was not impressed, and was trying to remove her.

The 20/20 article did not even pretend to objective neutrality. It presented the story as fight between progressive thinking, diversity and religious freedom against an old gaurd of "fundamentalist men".

Christians, and Anglicans/Methodists in particular, must cease deluding ourselves that we can live with and dialogue with the secular world. We cannot. It is the enemy of Christ and will stop at nothing to demonise and destroy (if it could) God's Church.

Our mission is not to "dialogue" with Satan. Our mission is to bring every inch of creation under the Lordship of Christ. Anglicans must re-discover our sense of ourselves as the Church Militant.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Our mission is not to "dialogue" with Satan. Our mission is to bring every inch of creation under the Lordship of Christ. Anglicans must re-discover our sense of ourselves as the Church Militant." - Shawn -

This is not the Anglican Church mission at all. Sounds more like a rampant pseudo-pentecostalist to me.

Shawn said...

"This is not the Anglican Church mission at all."

The Anglican Church is a Christian Church, and that is the Christian mission. Christ told us to and make disciples of ALL nations. Note that he said "nations", not just some individuals with a nation. Therefore it is the mission of the Anglican Church, and all churches.

I have no idea what "rampant psuedo-pentecostalism" is, though I suspect it exists only in your own mind.

Father Ron Smith said...

The trouble with your philosophy of being the Church Militant, it seems to me Shawn, is that you would rather it already had the power of the Church triumphant. Triumphalism is the very opposite of kenosis, which is what Christ modelled for the Church - in the meantime.

And, I think you do know what I mean by rampant pentecostalism. If not; it is that view of one's-self as having conquered all, by dint of one's own efforts. One sometimes wonders where God gets a look in.

I wasn't going to engage further with you, but you do provoke one.

Shawn said...

Ron,

"The trouble with your philosophy of being the Church Militant, it seems to me Shawn, is that you would rather it already had the power of the Church triumphant."

Not at all. Quite the contrary, I formly belive that the Church should stay away from power politics and clearly be seperate from the state. Liberals on the other hand want the liberal state and the church to collude in forcing on people the liberal/homosexual agenda. Thats real power politics, and certainly not kenosis.

"And, I think you do know what I mean by rampant pentecostalism."

No Ron. In all seriousness I do not have a clue what you mean by that phrase.

"If not; it is that view of one's-self as having conquered all, by dint of one's own efforts."

In which case you clearly have not been reading my posts with any degree of care (and I would suggest you do not have an accurate view of Pentecostalism). If you had you would note that I am a Calvinist, and as such I believe that our "efforts" are worthless. It is grace and grace alone that gives us the power to trample on scorpions and snakes.

Father Ron Smith said...

Well! I leave the last word on this thread to you, Shawn. You obviously have superior knowledge of the inner working of God's most holy will.

finis.