Ignorant or empowered?

Last year’s case of French diplomat Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was, at the time of sexual assault allegations being levelled against him, the head of the International Monetary Fund highlights what I see as a disturbing trend in modern society.

Putting aside for the moment the pertinent moral issues, the readiness of the world’s media and many people in the street (people like you and I) to not only have an opinion but to actually automatically assume guilt is alarming. The western legal system is founded on the premise of innocent until proven guilty (in the majority of cases) and whilst this is far from perfect, it at least should encourage a fair assessment of the facts.

In Mr Strauss-Kahn’s case all charges were dismissed following the prosecution team’s statement that they have an “inability to believe the complainant beyond a reasonable doubt…”.

This leads me to the point I wish to make – how often have you and I formed an opinion based on a snippet of information? How often have we responded to sensationalist media or a tale from a friend with a vigour or passion that suggests that what has been reported is actually an accurate and full depiction of events?

Current affairs television continues to be THE classic example of this sad trend. It seems to be that much of today’s media is relying on the fact that its audience will simply accept their message, thereby reducing any need for fact-based, investigative journalism.

The tag investigative journalism is “all too often attached to a rehashed public relations kit or a basic news story, rather than a solid piece of research” (Liz Minchin, Digging in the Dirt, www.abc.net.au, Aug 2001). I believe we owe it to ourselves, our families and our communities to be informed not simply aware.

To be informed is to have knowledge of a particular situation or event. This implies possessing and understanding the facts which requires us to critically assess news fed us from media.

Our choice is a simple one: blind acceptance or critical analysis.

The difference can be significant: ignorance or empowerment.


2 thoughts on “Ignorant or empowered?”

  1. I prefer critical analysis at all times. The number of times I have seen the truth come out after the media hype – and there is always hype. Media tends to follow the “Chopper” philosophy: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. Unfortunately, opinions are often shaped based on the hearsay and sound bites offered out by media. It is type to grow up ~ and form our opinions on fact!

    Time and time again I see this in my field of work – finance. People have opinions about the world, stocks, and economies, my favourite is property prices (media seems to tell me you cannot lose in property).

    Thanks again Mark for a deep and critical look at how we think!

    1. In any area where people have significant connections and fears (such as finance / economy, safety & security etc) we will find examples of this gross under-reporting. Let’s be the empowered ones!

What do you think?