I don’t really care how Pippin looks in a bikini. Or that Ahhhnold and Mrs. Ahhhnold are getting divorced. (I do wonder what has taken her so long) But these are the news headlines that bombard me every time I check my email on Yahoo or turn on the Nightly Snooze with Katie. I listen to Maine Public Radio and the BBC hoping they will tell me stories that mean something. Like the one about the vandalism of a 500-year-old grape-vine in Austria. The happy ending is that the vine seems to have survived and is putting out new shoots this spring. We can only hope for a similar happy ending for the hatchet job Governor LePage is proposing for the Maine Public Broadcasting budget.
Not that the mainstream media ignores all agricultural stories but they are few and far between. It took beekeepers years to break through with the news that the bees were dying. The potential effect of this loss being that our diet would soon consist exclusively of grains. Something must be done to help save our most important pollinators. MPBN just did a story about “The Vanishing of the Bees” on Maine Things Considered and has followed this story about as closely as it deserves.
This dumbing down of the news is a side effect of the rampant anti-intellectualism present in our country. “Don’t you go getting’ all high and might with me little missy. You ain’t as smart as you think you are. If you were you’d be rich and famous like Paris or Howard.” Heaven forefend that we might actually want to think about the state of the world or do something about it. Or listen to a news story that is more than a sound bite. The much more in-depth news story that MPBN provides on both Radio and TV.
Or perhaps the media is trying to be a protective Mommy. Telling us only happy stories or distracting stories or stories that are totally meaningless. Most news these days are the equivalent of Twinkies for the brain. Not like the News Hour on MPBN which tells the story plus the background and presents it in a way allows me to take the facts presented and come to my own conclusions. Even if those conclusions make me anxious or upset.
The truth, unfortunately, is that sex sells. That is really what our media is all about: selling advertising time. Ads that sell us more and more crap that we don’t need. Toys to distract us from the real issues in life.
And that is why we need the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Even if they do take money from some of the biggest corporate criminals (Cargill, Monsanto, Exxon, Dow etc etc) they are the best hope we have for hearing something outside of the latest celebrity gossip. This attack on Public Broadcasting is happening in states across the country and in Congress. So please, write to your Representatives and tell them to restore MPBN’s funding in the state budget and stop trying to cut funding at the federal level.