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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Popular media: Proposed bailouts? Oh, please, no.

Michelle Malkin, whose guts I admire, echoes my own view of proposed media bailouts:
I launched a Newspaper Bailout Countdown Clock on my blog after The New York Times Company's bonds plunged into junk territory in October. A few weeks later, columnist Jon Fine published a tongue-in-cheek memo in BusinessWeek outlining a federal newspaper rescue proposal.

The jibes were meant to be facetious critiques of for-profit enterprises demanding massive taxpayer expenditures under the guise of preserving the "public interest." But now, in a rather unfunny turn, the newspaper bailout push has actually come to pass.
I expect we will hear many proposals like the one she documents, as various media find the new online world too much to cope with. Malkin concludes,
How "free" can a "free press" be if it is leveraged with government funding? How free would they be to criticize other corporate enterprises seeking local, state or federal help to keep them afloat in hard times? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? A press beholden to the ruling class -- a press that cannot stand on its own two feet and the strength of its product -- is a press better off dead.
Yes, I would say so. It is merely another burden to the taxpayer.

The original purpose of media was to be a permanent critic of government. That is why we are called the fourth estate. We have privileges, we can display our press cards and rush into newsworthy venues. We also have some serious duties = go to jail rather than name a source to whom we have promised anonymity. That is a classic form of civil disobedience.

The two biggest changes in my lifetime have been

1. The growth of private citizen media


2. The way so many big time media have morphed into government media.

In explaining this change, two factors seem key to me:

1. The materialist worldview in which legacy mainstream media grew up is collapsing of its own unpersuasiveness - for a variety of reasons.

Example: When science media are reduced to trying to explain why Texan Marilyn Mock bought a house for Tracey Orr based on selfishness, they are really reaching.

Such views are not renounced, so they can never be retired. They are part of the belief system of the journalist who has bought into materialism, and their shelf life is forever.

That is why you will hear them recycled in pop science media, again and again = ancestral cave men spread their selfish genes by behaving this way (whatever that way was!), so that is why Mock does it today. Yuh. Right. Big enlightenment, that.

2. We will not likely get anything better out of popular science media in the foreseeable future. The critical problem is, as Malkin noted above, media companies may want to force the taxpayer to fund their nonsense, thus delaying a transition to a more responsive media.

For what it is worth, I blog regularly at Future Tense, which covers these issues in detail. If you found this post helpful, you might find this one even more so.

Don't worry, we are not a cult, and you will not be asked for money. We are a group of Canadian Christian writers who are finding a way through the transitions, and we have lots of good links.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Expelled!: A chat with Walt Ruloff, plus some thoughts interspersed

Recently, I interviewed Walt Ruloff, the Canadian producer who put serious money into Expelled, a documentary about the ID guys, which I first learned about, perhaps accidentally, in August 2007.*

Any design hypothesis attracts hordes of trolls. So I asked Walt the obvious question, "Would you guys have made the film if you knew how much trouble it was going to be?"

His reply was, "Yes, and we would have done it differently."

No doubt he would. The Darwinists have all the pop science journalists on auto dial. They need only ring them up and bitch. Indeed, that is precisely what Richard Dawkins did. One might have expected a professor of the public understanding of science (Dawkins's most recent job) to prefer a life in science rather than in soap opera, but people do what they can, not what they can't.

For me, the big question is, why didn't Walt Ruloff know all this? Why didn't he talk to anyone who could tell him what everyone knows: Legacy media simply cannot give a fair hearing to the question of whether design is part of the makeup of our universe.

Hundreds of sniffy film critics had to enter the fray against his film, no matter what it was like. . They don't know anything at all about the science, but they do know that there is no design in the universe. It was interesting and instructive to note that many critics made use of anti-Expelled resources supplied by the Darwin lobby. Showing the flag, I guess.

In later posts, I will comment in more detail on the role of legacy media in preventing informed discussion, but for now briefly: The dying establishment media were not always the red ink-a-sauruses we see today. They were once young and vibrant. Of course, they grew up with and imbibed materialism, often the crass know-nothing materialism that underlies pop science media articles like this one, the target of much well-justified criticism. But the people who honestly believe the worldview that underlies such articles know that they are justified in asking no questions, and assuming that Ruloff and Ben Stein "must" be lying. And plenty of boozy wakes for dead ideas await them.

So, of course, Ruloff's film - while it did reasonably well in sales (#5 in political documentaries and #6 in DVD documentaries as I write this, 8:48 am EST) - was trashed by "cool" critics, including many Christian ones.

Legacy media careers depend, in part, upon the fraud that "science" (however we define it) is about hard facts and that "faith" (however we define it) is about pleasant fictions. I have little doubt that if I got together a crew and made a film about a born-again prostitute who hooks for Jesus - and it was technically competent - legacy media Christian journalists would praise it cautiously as "breaking new ground." If I revealed afterward that I had done that only in order to lure them into praising such a perverse work, they would continue to defend their judgement, just as Darwinists continue to defend the "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" evolutionary psychology hoax.

Materialism holds that the mind is an illusion, so truth, falsehood, and nonsense can all defend it equally well, but suppressing alternative evidence and coopting those who wish to dissent safely is by far their best policy.

But all this merely focuses my main question: Why didn't Ruloff and his team know what so many tried to tell them. Sensing I wouldn't get a direct answer, I asked him instead, "What would you have done differently, had you known how things would turn out?"

He told me,
The biggest thing that hurt us was when Yoko Ono sued us. The film was released Friday, and we were sued Monday.

It really caused a lot of problems for us, to support the movie in the theatres. Her object was to get it out of the theatres. I think it was ideological. She was approached by people from about ten Darwinist organizations.

Prior to actually releasing the film we did a huge amount of work with a legal team make sure fall under category of fair use - we went the extra mile. So when she sued us, she very much knew that we were using it under fair use.

Yes, but ... why would anyone who actually made a film about the Expelled guys accept advice so fatally flawed for the times we live in?

Ono didn't need a case; she only needed a bunch of backers determined to discredit the film. Essentially, whether we are talking about the Oh No! Ono suit, the Danish cartoon riots, libel tourism, or co-ordinated troll attacks on books, people do not need a case; they only need a position from which they can successfully suppress or distort information. Ono had enough money to use the civil courts for that purpose; that should have been reason enough to avoid any contact with her whatever.

As it was, Ruloff explained, his team had to put all its resources into fighting her, instead of fulfilling the marketing plan - which is precisely what the Darwinists had planned. Indeed, during the film's launch, I simply could not get intelligible answers to two questions: Why was so little information provided about why there is an intelligent design controversy, and why was no effort made to rally people who would gladly go to see the film?

Ruloff was clearly upset by my questions and all he could offer was "We were just not prepared."

And I do not think that is his fault, either. Both he, and the people who unwisely advised him that it was okay to risk Yoko Ono, are discouraged from understanding what happens when one uncovers evidence against materialism. So even when they are making a film about it, they don't get it.

In gross sales, the film was almost in the top ten and Ruloff reckons that had he been able to support it, he could have made twice that. Unfortunately, by "support" Ruloff seems to mean advertising. That's too bad; increasingly, advertising is the least bang for his buck, compared to viral marketing - where almost everyone is transmitting the message for free, in the same spirit as they whistle pop tunes. I heard from many people who would gladly have worked for free to support the film. But no leadership coming from the Expelled team enabled them.

For now, Ruloff is just taking a break from the frenzied pace of production and marketing, but he is planning new projects, including another film that supports and advances the design inference in nature. I hope that he hires people who can advise him how to promote a film in today's InterWeb environment - and how not to.

*I have operated an independent news desk on intelligent design since May 2, 2005, and have broken a number of stories, including the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian. Thanks to all generous contributors to the PayPal button.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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