by Gina Dunlop, Brisbane, Australia
I would like to make mention of the power media wields in our society, the influence it has determining the information we receive that shapes our lives. This is an area I have much interest in: I studied media at University, had a career in television production and am currently studying a post grad degree in education to teach English and Media to High School students.
My embarking on a career in teaching was motivated by a desire to present to the younger generation an awareness of the enormous influence media has on shaping their lives. To present to them skills to discern information and how to question what they read and see. The increased access to information via the digital world sees an even greater moral responsibility by parents and teachers to provide children with these teachings and awareness’s.
Governments have themselves stepped up in this responsibility and the new Australian Curriculum, the first Federal Curriculum implemented this year, states in the English Curriculum, “They (students) explore the ways conventions and structures are used in written digital, multimedia and cinematic texts to entertain, inform and persuade audiences…” Teachers are strongly encouraged to get students to understand that ALL that is seen and read is a personal point of view of someone.
Australian Communications and Media Authority have created lesson plans on digital media analysis, which focuses on highlighting to students the misrepresentation of the truth within the digital arenas they are engaged in and how to distinguish between reliable and unreliable information online.
The heinous misrepresentation of Universal Medicine in recent press demonstrates another chronic example of the irresponsibility of the press – the damage it does to individuals but also the lack of true representation for audiences who only unwittingly gain one side of a story. There is no intention to represent the truth in this example.
The representation of the truth within the media context has been a hot debate for decades. Whether true impartiality can exist is always in question. Marxist theories abound talking of journalists being agents of the capitalist state, keeping the workers blindfolded to the true nature of their exploitation. Recently, post-modern theories are exercised. A recent article in The Weekend Australian spoke of a body of academics speaking about linguistic theories claiming “we cannot have access to an objective understanding of any real world … language does not describe reality, it actually constitutes it…” And the media is constantly being exposed as only being concerned about profit maximisation through “cheap and tawdry entertainment and the exclusion or subordination of oppositional voices.” The news recently reported how journalists who attempted to report oppositional articles to the reasons behind climate changed received death threats.
There’s a lot of discussion on it. But let’s cut to the chase, despite these discussions, media reporting continues to show little integrity or intention to represent the truth. A quote recently made aware to me from Henry Thoreau goes, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” I think this describes the above debaters. Could it be possible that these debaters are blissfully unaware that they are entrenched in a system that does not allow for open debate? And here’s one reason why. No new theory can be placed in the world because each idea has to be backed up by someone else’s theory. I cannot write an assignment for my degree about my ideas – I summarise other people’s ideas and have to reference them (in a special coded system) and conclude what I think is the best idea. Everything presented has to be backed up by an academic; it is the same for a Masters and a PHd and for journalists presenting an article. Recent reports and committee hearings in Australia and the UK (headed by Tony Blair) may continue the debate of the ethics of journalism and the need to curb the freedom of the press, but their findings are still entrenched in verification from academic findings.
So whilst there is debate about representing the truth, where is the truth coming from and what is the truth they are trying to represent? This could be the question worth asking, the one that brings us to ‘strike at the root.’ Could it be that the same truth is being regurgitated and formatted in different guises time after time. Everyone is simply ‘hacking at those branches’ but society and its system does not allow for someone to strike at the root.
And here’s the crazy thing. If the article on Universal Medicine had been a true piece of investigative journalism, it could have brought them to discover a brand new debate about the absolute truth of all things. It could have had the potential to turn journalism on its head. It could have uncovered Universal Medicine presents an ancient truth, that the knowledge of all things is already known within each and every one of us.
Does this make sense to us? Could there be a situation worth considering where there is only one representation of truth – no political or personal agenda – not even two sides to the story that we are traditionally used to, no sides, just a clear account of what occurs. How could that be? How can we start to comprehend such a concept? Universal Medicine teaches the science behind how such presentation of the truth can exist.
Can I write this article clear of any personal agenda – maybe I first have to address any issues I might have which could influence the intention of this article; for example, if I had a need to be recognised, then this article would take on a different intention. If my intention is to represent the truth then my article has the potential to be clear. What are the intentions of media moguls? What are their personal and political agendas? Do they have any genuine intentions to consider their audience and help unite the world in presenting clear untarnished truths?
Considering this, it seems a lost cause. We are doomed. There’s a lot of work to do here. Where do I start as a teacher with a genuine intention to empower students to question all they see when it is entrenched in such tarnished misrepresentations? I initially could feel an enormous sense of overwhelm. Or, I could think outside conventional teaching, embrace the notion that my students already live with an ability to discern truth and see my role as presenting the opportunity for them to connect to that truth and from that place examine information. That truth is the knowing who they truly are – when that is learned – an individual does not need to look around for verification from anyone else to validate what they think, what they wear, what they say. When it comes from who you truly are, it is a true freedom of expression.