Class Warfare Blog

April 22, 2013

An Experiment in Truth Telling

The drafters of the Constitution had a soft spot for “the press,” the printing press that is. The publication of the debates surrounding revolution and the formation of our federal government were important, sure, but the founders felt that if the people were to truly rule, it was critical that they be informed and that meant a press free from government control.

Fast forward to today with our corporate news media, held in the hands of extremely few people and we have grave concerns over the independence of such news agencies. We do not have government controlled media, but we have corporate controlled media which is hand in glove with corporate controlled government.

I have an experiment that may somewhat redeem these news conduits. In the 60’s and 70’s it was considered a national disgrace that 50,000+ people died every year in auto accidents. Measures were taken so that in recent years, that number has dipped to the low 30,000s even though the population has doubled since the 1960’s.

There was a debate over whether we should require seat belts to be installed in all cars! This was without a requirement that people actually wear them! It was later, much later, that states passed mandatory seatbelt laws requiring people to wear them. I remember one hearing in Congress in which the top U.S. automakers said it was economically impossible if not physically impossible to create a 5 mph bumper on a car. This testimony was followed by a lone inventor who made such a thing for $50. The Congress passed a law requiring bumpers that would sustain a 5 mph collision and voila it happened. (This requirement was eased, of course, under the Bush administration.)

We can and do act.

So, now we have 30,000+ gun deaths per year and our response is “Meh.”

So, let’s do an experiment in public policy. Let’s report each gun death in our communities. Each and every damned homicide, suicide, massacre, accident, etc. On the front page of newspapers and, maybe, like the PBS News Hour has done with war deaths, a weekly or daily scroll on their prime news venues.

Let’s report the truth about gun deaths and see if that informs the people.

If you think this can’t have any effect, compare the news coverage of the Viet Nam War with that of the Gulf Wars. During the Viet Nam War, reporters went around willy-nilly reporting the news. When people realized what was going on from those news reports, the anti-war movement exploded in size. During the Gulf Wars, the media were managed like a Broadway show. Reporters had to be “embedded” with a unit, that is placed where the military wanted them. The military had almost daily dog and pony shows. The media were packaged, managed, and controlled.

Let’s free up the media and have them do their job—report the news. When somebody gets killed with a gun, that is news that affects public policy, not just some stale statistic.

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2 Comments »

  1. “Let’s report each gun death in our communities. Each and every damned homicide, suicide, massacre, accident, etc.”

    There’s a website that is already doing this Stephen at Slate.com and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths. They collect the data from various sources but rely heavily on individuals to report local deaths that they may not have access to in national media sources.

    The site for this can be found here. I check this source routinely and have reported a couple of local incidences myself that I didn’t see already listed on their page.

    Comment by lbwoodgate — April 22, 2013 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

    • Cool thanks! I had heard about this, but people have to go to this site as opposed to having it rubbed in our faces every day (remember the Vietnam War coverage and Walter Cronkite … at the top of every broadcast for umpity ump years?).

      Comment by stephenpruis — April 22, 2013 @ 1:24 pm | Reply


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