Robert Montgomerie: Why Alternative Media Is Important

September 14, 2013 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Watching a little TV here and there, it's hard not to see that the corporate media knows it is having a harder time selling the war in Syria and other objectives the status quo has. This is why we're starting to see more action without consensus in this country. Newspaper, radio, and television has always held dominance over alternative media in shaping information in this country since World War I.

The power of the internet has democratized the flow of information. People are becoming more aware and the standard idea of neutralizing people is becoming a harder task for the publicists that parade as journalists. Change is happening in America and not the change that the power structures want. Americans are slowly but surely beginning to understand that if they want true democracy, they can't wait for "The Man From Hope", they have to let their voices be heard and the internet and alternative media provides a platform they're unwilling to.

We see this even in Jacksonville. Even though voices have come out in opposition to a lot of changes that are needed in our community, and are quite popular, there is still the attitude that changing a community is a negative thing. This is due to decades of "manufactured consensus". For example, the idea that one who has achieved the status of middle class means that they have arrived. This manifests itself in the prevailing negative attitude of, "I'm doing well, what's your problem". Thus when essential services are threatened with budget cuts, there is no short supply of people arguing the mountebank point of view for privatization or the familiar old maxim of telling the least fortunate to "pick themselves up by the bootstraps". These folks are not sell-outs; they have been conditioned to believe that there loyalty belongs more to a market that, for now at least, works to their favor and believe that protecting it is protecting their position.

An example of this kind of "pack mentality" can be seen from many prospectives. When the idea of an unfair civil service pension plan comes up and is rightfully voted down, those abhorred are not the ones who came up with the bad idea but, oddly, it's those who opposed it.  If there is a discussion about living wages it's always a few folks who see it as socialism - as an attack on them directly despite holding into account the real benefits that could come from such ideas. Those in this city who oppose such things as a new Human Rights Ordinance, positive urban development, believe that only trumpeting the few "postive" things that happen in Jacksonville, or even changing the name of a high school named after a prominent slave trader, murderer, and Klu Kluxer are not bad people; they are simply the product of the flow of divisive, misleading information the status quo trumpets in an attempt to keep people so divided that the idea of social revolution won't happen.

Fifty years ago Martin Luther King, before he was assasinated in Memphis, planned to begin a crusade for all people - a plan to eradicate poverty in America by uniting a people to demand from our collective society their fair share. This is a prospect that I believe every American regardless of background should be fighting for because if we expand liberty there is more liberty. If I protect your liberty, I am protecting my own. If I demand universal decency and respect for all, I am demanding it for myself as well as you. Eradication of the exploitative and destructive effects of the prevailing thought that we are all somehow freer if we allow exclusivism has led to a society where it is permissible to close libraries in Brentwood and Maxville just so long as I get to keep my library in my neighborhood.

To grow democracy in this country, and this city, there needs to be more voices saying more things. There needs to be wider discussion of the important things in order to unite us and it starts with being aware of the other person's lot. If a person knows that growth in this city generally tends to tip unfavorably to areas in the southwestern areas of the city whilst the poverty rate has grown to almost thirty percent in other areas, it shows a need for fairness. If a person is aware that women make, on average two to four thousand a year less than their male counterparts in the city, or that wages for people are dropping more and more everyday people under the poverty line, then the idea of a new restaurant or bar opening might be a good thing, but what about this growing problem? This is where alternative media in Jacksonville can best help our community and this is why it is necessary.