In the last article we discussed the tools for advertising and how they help create the thoughts, feelings, or needs that help the target audience accept an idea. The best advertising, even though it may seem useless, is the commercial where one doesn't understand what was being marketed, because the person actually believes that she came up with the idea herself. This is done by distracting the person and bypassing the part of the brain that monitors and examines the messages through distraction, intensity and repetition. We also briefly discussed Narrative criticism and how we can examine the news more closely if we look at is as literature, with each segment arranged in the order to place us in the right mindset to receive the information that follows.
In this article will show you how to explore this order and its effects. We can start on the micro level by just observing one show. This can be done by watching any news program, but it is even better to do this with a channel like CNN or Fox, because they have news going twenty four hours a day. If we can start with one of the news programs on these channels, we can see how it works, and then branch out farther to the rest of the news. All that we need to do is either to really pay attention, or write down what we hear.
Here are some suggestions for doing this. Look at the first segment. Try to summarize what the story was about, and write down your conclusion in one sentence or less. Also, write down your thoughts and feelings. There are often so many commercials that you can do this. Do the same thing for each segment. If you watch the same program for a week and keep notes on thoughts, conclusions and so on, you will notice a pattern. It is similar to the concept of foreshadowing in biblical study.
This concept basically says that all of the Hebrew Scripture, or Old Testament to some, was a preview of the Greek Scripture, or New Testament. The theory is that you find spiritual truths in the New Testament that was already well known and pre-shadowed the actual events that were supposed to happen in actuality in the New Testament. In many of these segments, overtime, you will find thoughts, ideas and conclusions presented as facts, that will serve to prepare you to receive other similar conclusions as a great awakening of your own idea. You may actually hear so many conclusions and see so many of these foreshadows, that you will think that you have made the decisions about the later situations by yourself, just like the way commercials work. Next try this watching several programs on the same channel. Below is an example of deeply exploring a news broadcast.
I saw an interview on the Fox channel last week about the Homeland Security Chief that was leaving his post after several years. It ended up being an interview about terrorists in Iraq and the success of the U.S. military. It sounded like two different conversations. His questions were very surface and leading, but the interviewee was very good at spinning and providing the answers for the questions that put forth his agenda. The interviewee ended up saying that terrorists come from people who are poor and dissempowered, with very little opportunity. With the help of the interviewer and cues from him, he said that they are looking for self esteem and greatness, so they are blowing themselves up to be someone big in their communities.
When asked how the U.S. would help deal with terrorism later, he said that the U.S. would provide economic and educational opportunities for these poor people, so they would have hope. In the first part of the interview we see a group of people just seeking self glory, with no real reason to be suicide bombers. This is the idea that we are supposed to hold onto. But the answer to how to help them goes much deeper. Had the interviewer been a real one, and not so eager to lead him to the first conclusion, he would have asked, "Well, is it not possible that these people are doing terrorist acts because they are in a situation where there isn't any hope?" or saying, "Maybe they are doing this because they don't have any hope anyway, so they are trying to at least give their lives to relieve everyone else from oppression." He could have asked anything that would go deeper, instead, he went along with the first assessment and even repeated it back to make sure we all heard it. This is bad news, but good propaganda. It stops us from identifying with the terrorists and makes them look like bad people, pathetic people who would kill others just for their own glory, or losers.
If we write down conclusions like these and look at them, we can see what types of stereotypes we are being fed. As we recognize them we can understand how they influence us, and permit the media and others to lead us to believe negative, or positive beliefs about certain people. This in turn, in a democratic society, shapes our thoughts, opinions, and who and what we support when we go to the polls. It is important, therefor, to know what is being presented on the news daily. After really observing for several years and writing down our conclusions and observations, or just remembering them, we will begin to see a bigger pattern that can span months, or even years. When we can see this, we can see clearly how the news is really shaping us. One way of freeing ourselves from this process is by destroying the stereotypes. How? By identifying with the target group instead of separating from it. We can know more about terrorism by asking, "What would have to happen to me to make me be willing to do terrorist acts? What is happening to them? Who is doing it?" Those three simple questions can bring home much truth, understanding, and break the conditioning. And they can be applied to any of the many offenses committed by humanity that we see on news programs everyday.
In our next article we will discuss comparing the reports that we see on different news channels, in newsprint, and on radio. We will look for the big story, and see how familiar the wording and conclusions are. We will then look at the agenda of the newsgroup to see if we can predict what will happen on the next broadcast. This is a lot of fun. Through this process we will discover how we can find the main narrative: the covert narrative underneath everything that we read, see and hear in the news. This is not about conspiracy, it is about the systemic effect that makes the media, like many other institution, behave a certain way and think that they are doing something good by doing so