edit 1/27/11: I just read the text for the Mass Media class I am taking this semester and realized how fitting this blog entry was this week...
I have been a fan of Keith Olbermann for years. Not a huge fan, I didn't set the dvr or anything. I usually channel flipped into him. If anything big was going on in the news (and when isn't something big going on?) I would flip to youtube and go looking for Keith Olbermann's special comment. I am far from thinking everything that came out of his mouth was gospel, but he was entertaining, well-spoken and had a big enough vocabulary to make me do the geek-dance (I love big words). Above all that, he made me think.
When he spoke against Prop 8 I was ecstatic. I am sad to see him leave his show. Keith Olbermann is part of an entertainment niche that is essential to our political education. Keith Olbermann, and those like him, point out social and political issues. They give America something to think about. Olbermann spoke up for minorities, he questioned authority, he demanded thought-provoking conversation. America needs that.
More Americans need to talk about the news. More than the catfights that begin in online forums. Let's discuss. Let's talk about Olbermann's speech after Gifford's was shot, or his words on gun control. His commentary on gay suicides and the war in Iraq. Let's talk about the eight years he spent speaking about humanity, morality and society. Let's take up the reigns where he has had to leave them and continue the conversation. Let's do the investigation on our own. While we're at it, let's talk about the others. Rachel Maddow, Bill O'Reilly. Whoever. Let's take their opinions and compare it to other opinions and reach our own conclusions, instead of dismissing everything that comes out of their mouths simply because of their political affiliation. I'm sure if I dug deep enough I could find something Glen Beck and I agree on - maybe ice cream flavors? Too many people decide "I am a Democrat" and they believe everything Rachel Maddow says without question from that point forward. Which then makes them dismiss every word coming out of Bill O'Reilly's mouth, again without question.
Too many Americans are willing to just take the headlines and run with it. Just yesterday a friend of mine read the headline of a note my brother posted on facebook and sent me really confusing messages about it because she hadn't read the actual content of the post. My neighbor said to me recently, "Did you hear that Governor LePage told all blacks to kiss his ass?" (Not at all what LePage did, but that's a whole different story about a governor who made headlines with his big mouth just two weeks into office) He didn't read the article. He read the headline and then switched his XBox back on. He didn't think for himself or investigate, he simply believed what he was told. In today's 24 hours news world there is no reason to get your news from one location. There is no reason you can't find the whole story. Watch Fox if you are a fan, but then watch CNN or NPR. Check out Google News. Go to a different location!
Americans are a slave to the media. We believe what our chosen news program or our favorite comedian tells us and we stick with it. We form our opinions instantly and then we just focus on things that will continue to support that opinion. So this is my challenge: Go to a news site you have never used before. Go to googlenews and find an article from a location you have never been to. NPR, CNN, MSNBC. You could even read something from a newspaper in different city. Just go, read something new today! Think for yourself! Delve deeper and question what you are told. (Of course if you frequently read my blog you probably already think for yourself... and I've just horribly insulted you...)