Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Is TV killing Democracy in America?


This is a food for thought post. Follow the link and think about it.
Neil Postman argues that TV, by it's nature, debases political discourse. That TV, by it's very nature, turns news into amusement and politics into entertainment.

He argues, by contrast, that the invention of the printing press had huge positive effects on society, allowing science, rationality, and democracy to flower. More reading leads to better cognitive skills and vocabulary (comic books have larger vocabularies than prime time TV).

According to seminal media theorist Marshall McLuhan and historian Elizabeth Eisenstein, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment were both products of the printing press.
A lot of links and arguments to absorb here. Without TV and radio, missing from this argument here, would politics be better today?

I am concerned about the decline in civic and community involvement and the increasingly either polarized or corrupt nature of politics today. I am also concerned about talk radio, which is not covered in this concentration on TV at the link. By the proliferation of stations both televised and on radio, viewers and listeners get reinforced the points of view they already agree with. To improve ratings, differences and violent arguments are exaggerated. It is like going to a noisy pub where nearly everyone is the same and drunken bar flies talk about "we gotta to something about them nasty other guys."

Food for thought.


1 comment:

Terry said...

Hi Gary, thank you for the post!

I really do believe that if more people
left their couches and got at least
somewhat more involved with their communities,
that that would lead to a less polarized
country.

People are (almost) always more moderate
in face-to-face interactions, so it makes
sense that the more we actually interact
face-to-face the more we'll develop more
humane and tolerant habits of mind.