Thoreau on “News” Media As the “Ruling Powers”

Cynical news media daily turn many a local story, especially tragedies, into national or international stories for political and financial purposes. The media bosses reap all the profit of off spreading fear and shattering nerves. Motives are often far from noble despite all the self-righteous pretense. Henry David Thoreau anticipated this and there is lesson in it for us. He writes,

“I do not know but it is too much to read one newspaper a week. I have tried it recently, and for so long, it seems to me, that I have not truly dwelt in my native region. The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition —”Life without Principle

Thoreau’s cabin. Replica. Walden Pond, Concord. Contemplation.

“… If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”—- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“The newspapers are the ruling power. What Congress does is an after-clap. — Journal, 17 November 1850—Journal, 17 November 1850

“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate . . . As if the main object were to talk fast and not to talk sensibly. We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.—Walden

And the bosses, knowing that a certain percentage of people will do anything to get “on the news,” in effect manufacture or spin such news. And great numbers of people uncritically consume it. It could be said that many almost live, breathe and have their being in daily media. It is the daily environment of their existence. And there’s money in it.

Dr. Ralph Martin: How bad has persecution got in the U.S.?

The Green Pail. An Irish Tale by Stephen Hand

—- Updated

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