ANGRY AT MURDOCH

A look at the new media

September 24, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle covered an anti-war protest. The photo of a girl participating in the rally was used for the front page article. She carried a poster that read, "People of Color say 'No to War!'"

Someone else also took photos of the rally including one of the girl pictured. But his pictures showed more of the surroundings that the SF Chronicle didn't want readers to see. The protest contingent in which the teenage girl participated also wore bandannas and carried Palestinian flags and obscene placards. Another photo showed the girls being stage-managed by a woman wearing a T-shirt with the flag of Communist Vietnam. She was a member of one of several Communist groups that organized the rally.

That was in 2005. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor the photograph. It simply cropped out what readers were not supposed to see, but when the truth became known, there was public uproar.

With modern digital photography and PhotoShop, pictures can be doctored to say whatever the media wants, and no one seems to care. As we all know, "a picture is worth a thousand words," even a misrepresentation.

England was angry at Rupert Murdoch in 2011 because employees at one of his many newspapers hacked into people's private emails to get scoops, making their findings public.

The media has changed a lot since I was a kid (I'm talking about the 40's and 50's). When we visited my grandparents, I devoured the magazines they subscribed to. My parents didn't like their choice of magazines, which is probably why I was so curious. There were pictures of scantily dressed women on the covers of LIFE and LOOK. National Geographic was obviously opposed to the idea of a Creator. The Saturday Evening Post was more acceptable, but even the POST carried cigarette ads. My parents only read religious periodicals and the Reader's Digest. It was the only secular magazine allowed in our home.

Some and perhaps many newspapers had political inclinations that affected news coverage, but I can remember vividly, how sensitive they were to the accusation of being biased. They went out of their way to share news from "the other side" so they could claim to be neutral and independent. A good percentage of subscribers and advertisers were church people and their preferences were respected if not always honored.

Every home had a radio, and by the late 40's, most new cars were sold with a radio. A used car with a radio would sell even if the tires were bald and the motor exhaled blue smoke. Radio was the main source of news, and since all stations were AM, they were also local. My parents listened to the local news, national news, Lowell Thomas and several religious programs. As a kid, I listened to Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hoppalong Cassidy. When my parents were not around, I also heard "The Shadow" and "Jack Armstrong." As a teen, I listened to country music from "WCKY, Cincinnati, Ohio" on my car radio.

My Uncle Hank was the first person in town to buy a television set. I think that was around 1945. Being a congenial person, he placed his huge Zenith with the tiny round screen on his enclosed porch where neighbor kids could come and look through the windows. If it was cold or rainy, Uncle Hank would invite the kids in to watch. Sometimes parents came to fetch the kids, and they always seemed to stay and gawk at the snowy black and white picture. I believe there were only two stations that broadcast programs a couple of hours a day.

Church people were at first divided about whether Christians should watch TV. As with Hollywood films, there was a lot of smoking, drinking and dancing on TV. It wasn't long, however, before most Christians had television sets in their living rooms and were watching Arthur Godfrey and the Lawrence Welch Show. As late as 1973, someone on the Welch show sang "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the old Oak Tree." The text was altered to "the whole darn bus" so as not to offend anyone. Still, many Christians protested when Norma Zimmer, of the Welch Show, was engaged by Billy Graham to sing in his city-wide crusades.

How the Media has Changed! …and the world …and Christianity!

Unless you live in a large metropolitan area, you are unlikely to find a local radio station today. And few suburban towns have a local newspaper. People in small towns are clueless about local happenings. Now we have TV, satellite radio, smart phones and the internet. Phones are for texting and taking pictures. Many phones include GPS and connect to the internet for downloading music, films and social networking.

Unlike Murdoch's papers, the American media seldom goes out to find scoops. Journalists sit in air-conditioned offices and scan Facebook or manufacture their own stories. Or they get their scoops straight from some liberal politician. In the doggie world we call these "pooper scoopers."

We have hundreds of TV programs to chose from today but few are worth watching. Most networks promote immorality and unethical conduct. Profanity is common and viewers are fed a steady diet of sexual perversion, violence and erratic behavior.

After the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, the liberal media went all out in support of a largely Democratic campaign to ban guns. That is of course an impossibility at this time, but steps are being taken to accomplish this in stages.

A few timid voices were raised suggesting that violence in television might play a role in such tragedies. Nearly all major networks responded in chorus: "There is no evidence that the media has any influence on behavior."

I wonder why companies spent $3-4 million for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl if television has little or no influence on the viewer.

Rupert Murdoch should be lauded. He at least apologized.

Ralph V Harvey, 2013