While standing in line at the supermarket, one cannot help but notice the rows and rows of tabloids and celebrity photographs staring back at you. If you want to buy the New York Times, or any real, credible newspaper, you actually have to go out of your way to find it. When the tabloid monopoly fills the grocery store isles due to demand, out selling quality newspapers, it causes me to stop and analyze our priorities as a society. The public demand for tabloid news proves that regardless of the size of a city or town, or the people in it, gossip is like a deadly virus without a cure. Unfortunately, it comes with a high profit potential for the publishers. People are obsessed with talking about other peoples lives, especially celebrity culture, it is like we are somehow looking for an outlet to escape our own lives. Tabloid readership is up 7% since the 'War On Building an Oil Pipeline' began, possibly because living vicariously through another makes us forget that freedom comes with responsibility. War is brutal, politics can be ugly, and very few people want to get their hands dirty fighting for social and economic change but we must if we want our service men and women to come home and our quality of life to improve rather than diminish. People have many different reasons for reading the weekly dish on their favorite celebrity but frankly, the over indulgent celebrity obsession is a bit weird. When you have a life of your own, there is no need to read dirt about everyone elses drama no matter how entertaining it may because real life already resembles a soap opera. Every day that we fail to be a responsible citizen, to read a credible newspaper, to stay current on the latest news, to write our senators and state representatives about the issues important to us is another day one of our soldiers is shipped home to the United States in a body bag. We cannot succumb to complacency, and burying ourselves in senseless entertainment drivel like an ostrich with his head in the sand. Pretending the problems facing America, our environment and the world will not make them disappear. The time to get politically involved in our community is now.
When you see rows of tabloids at the grocery store, do not just be concerned, be outraged that YOU, an American Citizen are getting limited coverage to real news, local and international events. We take for granted our access to quality information. We must always remember that historically education and literacy were only available to the social elite. Books were originally printed on parchment via the woodblocking process in Asia, which made them extremely expensive and rare. In fact, one book was equal in value to a small vineyard or farm. In 1436, Johannes Gutenberg, a European, invented a new printing press method, along with the introduction of an oil based ink that revolutionized printing. The printing process ensured that the same exact information fell on the same pages, and the author became common, though previously unknown. During the Renaissance, the demand for literacy and books was driven by the middle class students in Western Europe, as they gradually began to remove the monopoly the clergy held on literacy. It was Gutenbergs printing press that created the 'art of book printing' which allowed for mass produced, lower cost paper books, and wider availability of printed materials to the public, which led to a drastic rise in the adult literacy rate. Now more people had access to knowledge; which led to open discussions about life, politics, government and current events. Historically, Gutenbergs printing press is considered equivalent in importance to our society as the alphabet, writing, and even the internet. When a community of people is educated and informed they are also powerful and not easily oppressed. In America, Benjamin Franklin set up a printing house of his own in 1731 and contrived to become the publisher of a small newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette gave Franklin a forum for political and local issues through printed essays and observations. He also formed an organization called Junto, a discussion group made up of tradesmen and artisians who discussed politics, issues of the day and whose goal was to improve not only their community but themselves. Books were still expensive and the members of Junto created a library by putting their personal collections and resources together. In 1739, this collection was moved to Independence Hall and became a research library with 500,000 manuscripts and rare books. The printing press continued to evolve during the Industrial Revolution, when Friedrich Koenig and an engineer named Bauer invented a press machine using steam, without using manpower it was capable of 1,100 impressions per hour. They sold their first two steam press machine models to the Times in London, printing their first edition in 1814 and continuing to perfect the early model so it could print on both sides of a sheet at once. This began the process of making newspapers available to a mass audience, helping spread literacy around the world.
Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin had no idea that a tool used to enlighten people, spread literacy and help prevent tyranny would also morph into a supermarket tabloid used to distract the public from real credible news. The oldest supermarket tabloid in the United States is the American "Daily News," published in 1919; so scandelous was this tabloid that if it didn't have news to publish, it would simply make up a story, have the newspaper staff stage a photograph, then use an editing technique to combine the fake image with a real one. The Daily News has long since been replaced with tabloids like the National Enquirer, the Globe, gossip columns, sensationalized celebrity entertainment news and tabloid television shows. None of which are the original intention of the printing press or the newspaper. In fact, newspaper circulation is in decline along with a widespread perception that it represents a shrinking market for local and international news. Statistics from the Nielsen data suggest that nearly twice as many Americans over 45 subscribe to daily newspapers compared to those under 45. One survey estimates that fewer than a third of Americans younger than 35 read daily newspapers on a regular basis. Now newspapers are struggling to capture the attention of young adults, because the future of the newspaper may become extinct with the baby boomer generation. Apparently young readers are more interested in the supermarket tabloids, entertainment magazines, their ipod and xbox than current newspaper coverage as well. If young people learn by our example, perhaps we adults should be working harder to get them involved in politics, reading the newspaper and learning about the responsibilites that go along with being an informed up-to-date, educated and involved citizen.
Practicing ethics in our purchasing power decisions regarding media is important; what we read and what we buy, like a ripple in a stream effects peoples lives for better or for worse. When we practice values; such as fully living our own lives instead of reading about celebrity dirt, being present in the moment, healing broken relationships instead of numbing ourselves with distraction, working hard at our own dreams instead of dreaming of a celebrity life we could have, and practicing compassion, tolerance and respect for another persons privacy no matter who they are or what their profession. We help become the solution to the media mess we created. When we focus our purchasing power on buying from credible new sources, we shift demand, and shifting consumer demand creates change. We cannot forget that celebrities are people too, they may be wealthy but it does not make them immune to the highs and lows of life; they laugh, love, cry, hurt, struggle and triumph like the rest of humanity. Being a celebrity does not give the public the right to intrude on their privacy. Some might say, celebrities chose to be in the public spotlight and instantly lose their right to privacy. Since when did being sucessful and talented at what you do for a living, equal full public access to a persons private life? Think about it, if twenty strange men with 10 foot camera lenses and blinding flashes were hanging out in your yard, standing across the street, hiding in the bushes at your kids school, following your car, stalking you and shooting pictures of you and your families every move. Be honest, it would freak you out. Even worse, imagine your deepest darkest secret making the front page headlines. If you think tabloids are harmless gossip, just remember what happened to Princess Diana, perhaps the paparrazi would not have been chasing her down if the public was not buying the tabloid papers which created a demand for her photographs. We as a public are responsible for lack of real news coverage, and current entertainment obsession because every dollar we spend on a tabloid paper, or click of the remote control to give ratings to a tabloid television show encouages the junk food news and diminishes the demand for credible news that can make a difference in our society and lives.
Instead of seeing tabloids at the supermarket of celebrities lives, the only juicy tabloid I want to read in the future is a Political, three inch thick, weekly paper or magazine of every single person who works in our Goverment; the President, the Senate, Judicial Committee, House of Representatives, Pentagon, CIA, FBI and every State or Federal Employee paid by our tax dollars. This political tabloid would include; all departmental budget information, all sources of a political representatives income, itemized expenses, political affiliation, businesses they own, past and future business dealings, bills proposed, organizational memberships, all sources of income, colleges attended, work experience, professional expertise, political-business-personal scandals, affairs, criminal background check, days worked out of a year, personal shopping habits, family legacy in politics, expense reports, weekly time sheets, favorite toilet paper and other misc information. Basically, it would be a Political Tabloid that provides full transparency of the people who represent us in Government. Citizens could level the playing field with this information, since the Government has the Anti-Terrorism Bill which allows them transparency into every citizens private life. Now we, the citizens can have a Anti-Political Corruption Bill and receive an annual report from the White House. Just like any good, informed investor, we can be informed on whether or not we are getting a return on all our political representatives and tax investments, federal, state and local. With all the media and technology we have access to now, imagine a future Reality TV show for the Presidential Election, 24 hour Political coverage, 365 days a year, full visibility into the White House with the exception of the Oval Office, Department of Defense, Spies, Undercover Officers and the bathrooms. We could also include a weekly meeting with our Elected Representatives on Monday mornings, with a live question and answer forum so citizens can have real time access and information to issues that concern them instead of waiting months or weeks for a letter, e-mail or phone call from their elected representative. Yes, it is time for a mind-blowing Political Tabloid. We all know it would put celebrity tabloids to shame and out of business. Can we all say, White House Exposed = SCANDELOUS.
Well at least a Political Tabloid is a less radical idea than an Elected Official, GPS bracelet worn around the ankle with a slight shock tazer feature only utilized when officials try to leave work before their 40 hour work week is complete. Zapp! Crackle! Pop!
Democrat or Republican, they are both equally Sizzling.