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Are You On a Media Junk Food Diet?

Are You On a Media Junk Food Diet?

Let’s face it. We construct much of our reality through what we see, hear and read in the media.

And these days the media is filled to overflowing with reality this and reality that. Reality TV shows have become de rigueur on the Box at night in many a household. Together with news bulletins that play more like infomercials than news. Followed by current affairs shows that are so blatantly infomercials, that it’s hard to tell where the program ends and the ads begin.

So when it comes to the media, you have to ask yourself, what is reality?

Or as Pontius Pilate put it all those years ago, what is truth?

It’s this profound and sometimes sinister unreality of the media that we so readily consume, that struck me the other day when I was in a TV recording studio  …

It was seriously the greenest room I’ve ever been in … and that’s before they turned on those Stalag 17 lights that always have me yearning for the relative comfort and anonimity of my beloved radio studio. (Of course once the video’s been through post production, it’ll look completely different … just like a bought one.)

There I was, standing in that bright green TV studio when it struck me how easy … no, not just how easy … how routine it is in the media to make something appear to be that which it clearly is not.

Whether it be a green screen magically transformed into an upmarket backdrop.

Or an apparent “reality TV show” which is actually a meticulously planned, carefully constructed series of totally artificial events.

Or a newspaper article which purports to give a factual account of events, but which was actually written, for the most part, by the richly remunerated PR agency of a large corporation or powerful lobby group, with the express purpose of surrupticiously having us see their version of reality for their own purposes.

And then this PR piece, with more spin on it than a Shane Warne leg break (apologies to cricketing Luddites) is dished up by a newspaper’s lazy or inexperienced journalists, or by an under-resourced news room (or perhaps both, topped off by an editor focussed squarely on the bottom line) as “fact”; as news(!!) … or as a sensational headline designed more to sell papers, increase circulation and bump up the cost of advertising space in a competitive commercial environment, than it is to keep you and me informed in that great tradition of journalistic impartiality and excellence.

Are there still some reputable journalists out there? Absolutely … but as margins in traditional media are squeezed, they are becoming fewer and farther in between these days.

And in a cut throat commercial media world, whose bottom line is shareholder value plain and simple, sad as it is to say, things aren’t always what they seem.

So, in the context of this reality, here’s my question for you:

Given the role that the media plays in constructing your reality, do you just swallow it all hook, line and sinker without thinking too much about it? 

Or do you consume it critically; thoughtfully; selectively.

After all, we are what we eat.

Could it be, quite unwittingly, that we’re on a media junk food diet? And if so – what’s it doing to who we are?

It seems to me that for all his faults, at least Pontius Pilate was asking the right question: What is truth?

Your thoughts?

By the way … what happened to the green screen?!


  1. Hi bErni and all reading this. God richly bless you all.

    There is nothing new about media hype and sensationalism. the shows where the audience and public have a chance to give a vote on who they feel should win or be kicked out the competition remind me when the crowd chose Barabas to be released from prison and Jesus to be crucified.
    These reality shows and media news has to be often gone through with a fine tooth comb. Best thing – just ignore.

  2. The green screen has been used for many years and every night with nightly news. Manipulation and perspective have always been , I do like iview that gives more choice and control. But we shouldn’t be suprised or shut off from it but understand it and teach , explain or challenge those around us. But gen y are switching off favouring utub which has even bigger challenges. In this media savvy world we also need to be savvy. It’s an insight into people therefore gives us understanding and opportunity to share the uncompromising love of Jesus.

    • Geoff I couldn’t agree more. Just because of what the media is, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t engage. Bless ya, Berni

  3. Berni’s line …. “Or an apparent “reality TV show” which is actually a meticulously planned, carefully constructed series of totally artificial events.” This sums up the “propoganda” we are constantly fed every day. But we are “the TV generation” – programmed to believe what the media present, with attention spans of 30 minutes, as long as we get a break for 2.75mins after every 7.25 minutes ( called an ad break).
    It is the art of deception. And most of us fall for it day in and day out ……… I suggest you read Ben Elton’s book , “Chart Throb” , and you will no longer think that “reality shows” are anything more than a script that the producers then find enough videotape to satisfy their preordained script. Worrying is the fact that Christians can be duped as easily as anyone. Is it sinful to be cynical in this day and age?

  4. Hi Bernie, this subject reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984 and the background manipulation that was the premise of that book. The further we get away from that date (now 28 years ago!) the more I realise that we are ever more insidiously developing a media culture that not so much tells us lies but just is not questioning or searching for ‘truth’. This lack of questioning applies across the policitical / economic / environmental spectrum. And all of them seem to runaway from the Truth of the Gospel and God’s revelation through His Word.

    • David,
      You are quite right but sadly the same “unreal Truths” apply to our Christian Churches. So yes David just where does thruth hide itself. Or are we the one’s hiding from THUTH!

  5. I dislike so called reality shows as I feel they are a way out for TV execs to pay actors and people vie for the big prize, often at the expense of decent human behaviour. I do however tape shows that interest me or watch Compass etc, but some people feed into normal shows as well, I love Law & Order SVU but it scares me as I know these things really happen. Propaganda can also be spread by the media with a well chosen word or brand etc. People get paranoid in the extreme over every nuance. We must be alert but spreading hatred via internet sights is more dangerous as people isolate themselves and suspect every little thing they hear and read, at least TV is reasonably censored. Yes Jesus instructed us to be meek, but this does not imply timidity or not standing up for our way of life, but let’s be polite and decent in the process.

  6. Thanks for your very sensible comments about the media. We are so disgusted with most TV programs at our home that, apart from a couple of clever British “who done its” we restrict our watching to news and current affairs programs (and occasional sport). I agree that the blatant bias shines through constantly in these programs. We often see and hear our politicians and other community leaders and commentators look us in the eye and blatantly lie, fully aware of what they are doing. I often find myself crying out “rubbish” and arguing with the TV (but it does no good unfortunately). At least the ABC’s Q & A program allows people to get the opportunity to cut some of the braver pollies down to size.

    • haha David, that’s why I limit my intake of heavy programs as I end up frustrated and angry. Liberals – No GST – Labour -No Carbon Tax, we cannot trust any of them and that is sad, but other than have a dictatorship I guess we are stuck with what we have, but we can at least try to keep them honest with questions etc

  7. TV tells the truth?!! my wife was in Hobart, checking out the botanical gardens, and saw the ABC gardening show team; she was blown away to see 16 ‘takes’ of the one simple scene!!!! There can be so much manipulation too; take a Sydney harbour ferry trip, film the scenery, the sailing boats, skyline, all so peaceful; at the same time have another camera person film the clanging as the captain pulls the controls, the engine room as it fires up, the funnel as the captain toots a boat in it’s path, a screaming child. Same trip but the opportunity to present a viewer with such sharply perspectives!! Media, we need to be awake!

  8. This is why I have collected over the years a selection of my favourite tv shows on dvd – all ‘oldies’ mostly from the 70’s! (And even so we have to be critical of some of the content). At least I can ‘veg out’ for half an hour without being bombarded by ads and ‘reality’ shows. The other thing I notice is that the shows that are on are so ‘dramatic’. The tv was on in the background last night while I was in another room and the thing that I noticed after a while was that I hadn’t heard any of the characters laugh. It was all doom and gloom and dealing with ‘issues’. Don’t we have enough of that in our (true) reality without having it dumped on us in our leisure time? That has to have a depressive effect, surely! Thanks for the awareness raiser, Berni.

  9. I must admit this is the precise reason I record all the programs I want to watch on TV.
    This way I can fast forward through the ads and totally avoid the rubbish that is on our screen there days. Reality TV!!! It is FAR from the reality that I know. Mind you it could give us insight into how our society has become if these shows are so popular, could it be an indication of how shallow and empty their lives are.

    • I agree Sally. I feel sorry for people who have nothing else to look forward to except the next sitcom!! I believe the media have a lot to answer for as they feed out young people all the bad examples of society. The Bible says we are not to become poluted by the world, so we need to be very discerning. Good subject Berni. Bless you.

  10. Hi Berni,
    I am sure that you are right: We are definitely influenced by the information we choose to receive!
    Thank you for touching this important theme in a seducing time of history!
    With sisterly greetings in Christ,
    Ingrid L. (DK)

  11. Most of the time now, I read books at night because there is nothing on TV to watch. However, I have a demanding job and like to relax in front of the TV to slow down, not to become “dumb” and “numb”. What are we going to do about the content of TV and the advertisements are just as bad. They have poor ethics and tell us little about their product. It should be compulsory to catalogue the calories in food that are adding to our obese population; there should be more restrictions on the number of adds allowed per hour; there should be more family shows that have some intelligent content instead of things like “every body loves Raymond” which I consider American garbage or the Simpsons

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