One example is documentaries, including programs on cable TV "documentary" and information channels. A documentary has no obligation to be academic or juried, to be balanced or journalistic. They tell a story from a point of view, an opinion, a cause.
"Waiting for Superman" paints only a partial picture of education with a strong bias. Teachers can be fired. Most teachers "unions" are not even unions in the traditional sense and have little or no teeth. Without unions teachers can be terminated because of the personality of a new principal or when they bring in their own staff or cronies. The balanced truth would look at the lack of education for teachers, lowering of standards, lowering or uneven nature of budgets, lack of books and supplies (teachers pay a great deal out of pocket to make up for this), relatively low pay levels, decreased parental responsibility, gangs, aging facilities, rapid changes in technology, decrease in the core family traditions, changes in communities, increase in juvenile disease and other medical problems (environmental?), influx of non-English speaking students, decrease in graduation opportunities and an overall shift away from tax support of education have contributed to an uneven, tiered, and decaying level of K-12 education. Cutting funds will not help.
Any Michael Moore documentary contains more to entertain and generate interests than any attempt at balanced coverage. That does not mean he is right or wrong, and by no means is this limited to his films, but they present a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the power and one sided information of the art form.
Many people really believe what they see in movies is real. From "Titanic" to "Pearl Harbor" to fiction based in any historic time period, viewers begin to think the story is real and the depiction accurate, when story is the goal, and any historic setting simply a background for telling the story, not an attempt at truth, fact and accuracy.
Any film or video cannot communicate with the depth of books, or research studies, or actual experience.
Short items on the Internet, including recent video and audio "stings" are believed and powerful, despite editing, contextual errors and obvious bias and even prejudice in their execution, production and release.
Yet people believe what they see and hear, especially when they are inclined to believe it in advance.
Devastating budget cutting in the name of "fiscal responsibility," with absolute denial of the pain, suffering and long term setbacks in the public well being and our competitive position in the world marketplace.
Why is that?
Why to one in three people still think that President Obama is not an American?
Why do so many people believe the health care reforms are "Obamacare" when he did not get most of what he felt was needed?
Why do people point at increased cost and no savings from Obamacare, despite the fact that almost none of the plan has even taken effect, and the cost increases are actually less than historic rises over the past decade in health care costs?
Because people do not want fact, juried information, truth or to even hear the other side of any argument. We want to be "right", to fight and to stand by our guns, whether or not we are pointing at the proper targets.
Why is that?
First published 3/11/2011