Inner Michael » Change the World? Change the Media

Change the World? Change the Media

I call it “Meanstream.” It’s the endless flow of nasty commentary that you find all over the Internet at the bottom of articles. Commonly called “trolls,” there are people who, like vipers, lay in the weeds waiting to strike and sink fangs of venom into some unsuspecting passerby. And it’s become a custom at some places frequented by those who feed on that sort of thing. You become what you think about; you are what you do. Who you are being is your gift to the world.

There is a call to action at the end of this article.

I wish I could say that all Michael Jackson fans are above all that poison and that they conduct themselves with dignity at all times, but that just wouldn’t be true. I know that is what he wanted; he said it often enough. I can’t tell you how many of the people who contacted me early on with their heartbreak about Jackson’s passing who have recently written to say they are disillusioned and not with those outside the community. Oh boy. I have been asking them to stay as the reasonable voices because of the reputation and meme that follows being a “Michael Jackson fan.” It still needs changing.

There is a call to action at the end of this article.

Many of these people have researched Jackson and they know the true story of what happened to him at the hands of the media. I have been pleading with them to hang in there because the truth of his story is still hanging out in the ethers and while it’s trying hard to land here on the planet, it takes many hands to reach up and pull it down for it to gain gravity and become part of the landscape. Michael was right about things being created in space and they don’t become real until you pull them into reality.

There is a call to action at the end of this article.

Every time I read something about Michael Jackson, there are the inevitable commentators who bring up his “demons” or his “legal troubles” or worse, call him names that he didn’t earn and has yet to be fully cleansed of. Yes, the Internet can be a dirty business especially when it comes to Jackson but it’s because the media did such an effective job of perpetuating the nonsense while it lined many pockets thick with cash. Yes, it’s hard to stay down on the floor on your knees scrubbing the righteous abbey of Jackson’s soiled reputation but the floors won’t gleam without you. And yes, it’s entirely spiritual so when you deviate from the gleaming, the floor stays dirty. When you sling mud or dish dirt on others, the floor never gets to shine.

What is heartening and hopeful is that recently I went to a site featuring an article about a recently published book and the comments were well written, thoughtful and respectful. They were educational and enlightening. The spirit or vibe there seemed similar to an adult who takes a child wandering around in darkness by the hand and says: “You’re going the wrong way luv, let me show you how to find the door to the light..” That’s the kind of thing that is going to be read. No one seemed to be bent on attacking; they were citing inaccuracies and calmly reporting the truth and requesting that journalists do that from now on…

And I saw the word “caricature” used many times and I am pleased that this new meme has replaced the old one.

The “Words and Violence” program was launched at Voices Education Project in the summer of 2010 after the nine month gestation period that it took to gather case studies and publish the first edition. There are several case studies that address bullying with names, because of Vitiligo, because of the choice of dance partners, because of profession and so on. The original case studies by fans make up the core of the project. They all represent hard work and dedication; I know because I am the originator and I was their editor. I was Jan’s editor for “Caricature” and it wasn’t easy for either of us to wade through the swamp that surrounded him.

The Caricature Case Study at Voices

Michael Jackson was treated as a slave: to be dehumanized, bought, sold, traded, borrowed, to provide the labor and vehicle for those who would use him and his life instead of their own power or labor to build their dynasties. And he was lynched publically. It was one of the ugliest legacies of the twentieth century and pop culture. And what is pop culture? It is us. We create it. So if you want dignified and civilized pop culture, it’s simple– demonstrate how it’s done. Civil. With dignity.

Dedicated to Michael and Diana, a host of ethical journalists are featured at Voices including Joe Vogel and Charles Thomson along with artists, poets and writers. We are busy creating the third edition and I think you’re going to like it. If you haven’t visited the project, have a look:

Words and Violence Second Edition

People from 140 countries in the world are Voices readers and advocates and 40,000 of them visit every week. So, bullying is being addressed globally. I have been saying for 3 years that Michael Jackson is “the poster boy” for media bullying and I saw people using that terminology. Good for you! You change the world by calling out what is wrong and requesting, and sometimes demanding, that it change. You also change the world by reinforcing what highlights justice, truth, civility, dignity and worth of all human beings. Saying “Thank you” works.

We know we cannot change hearts if we approach people with ours closed, or if we attack. We know that if we rant nobody listens. And we know that if we have gained a bad reputation, we must re-earn trust and embody or be the change. Calling someone out is “tough love,” but it’s still LOVE. And taking the hand of someone who is wandering around in the dark is an act of LOVE. It can be done with finesse because I am seeing it being done by some really grounded fans. Cheers to you!

It’s important to remember that while Michael Jackson was horribly hounded, he is not the only one who has been bullied by the media. For example, his friend Liz Taylor was viciously maligned in the tabloids and the echo media (those who echo with cut-and-paste journalism.) Brittney Spears, Kristen Stewart, Lindsay Lohan, Kobe Bryant, Mel Gibson and others know that feeling too. In fact, nobody is immune and if something happens that is the least bit sensational or criminal in the life of a star who attracts attention and ink, you’re going to see another feeding frenzy. But Jackson has to be the unethical media’s cash cow of all time.

There is much about Michael’s life and how he was treated that parallels slavery- a man who was dehumanized, bought, sold, peddled, beaten, mocked, and lynched. He was used by the unethical as slave labor to make their fortune for them. The irony of Michael Jackson’s life and work and his slavery to the powerful cannot be missed. How is it that when he took back his own power, and became a free man, that is when the trouble started?



Lynching the Tabloid Way…

What’s sleazy about the tabloids and their stories is that the stories don’t have to be true and the “criminal” doesn’t have to be convicted. The jaw dropping and teeth grinding charges of sexual crimes, especially against children is going to stay in the minds of the majority. It’s good that our adult culture is so protective of children when it comes to criminal activities but it’s too bad they aren’t as protective in addressing their hunger and poverty. That’s what Michael cared about. And that makes the attacks on him so heartbreaking for fans. He fed half of Africa and saved children around the world. But that doesn’t make for good copy.

So, those who were called to this heartbreak and this mission to change the world, can’t afford to rest with Michael. The infection is widespread and infects an entire culture. But just in case there is overwhelm looming in you, remember when it was OK to spread another kind of toxic waste? Smoking used to be socially acceptable and second hand smoke was customary– at the office, in the restroom, at home, in restaurants, even in airplanes. It takes a campaign to change things and determination to make something that used to be socially acceptable obsolete. But just as you can’t preach about the diseases caused by smoking with a cigarette in your mouth, you cannot ask people to stop bullying with words with foul word weaponry. We’re getting there.

Since we are talking about media reform and creating a more humane narrative on this planet, there are a few things you should know about. And yes, this is urgent.

Are you happy with the media?
If not, then you need to make your voice heard!

Something urgent needs your attention… NOW!

You remember Rupert Murdoch, right? The above front page is from the New York Post- a Murdoch publication. I wonder if you think this is good journalism? The photographer said that he was snapping the photos in the hopes that his camera flash would get the attention of the subway commander operating the train. Yeah, right.

Bottom line is that this created quite a stir on the Internet, in other publications and on Twitter. And that means more hits on the story which translates to more money for Murdoch. This is an example of the tabloid press capitalizing on a man’s last moments. In the tabloid industry this kind of photo is known in journo-parlance as “the money shot.” The last moments of a celebrity’s death is the holy grail for a photographer.

You may recall that as Lady Diana’s body lay rumpled in the back seat of her armored Mercedes with her life leaking away, paparazzi snapped photos. In the case of Michael Jackson, the ambulance was delayed and had trouble backing out of the driveway because a paparazzi had a camera lens smack against the ambulance window. You will remember that photo with him with a ventilator and mask appearing in the tabloids upon his death. The money shot is the tasteless death or dying photo.

It was reportedly Rupert Murdoch’s now closed “News of the World” and its editor Kelvin MacKenzie who is credited with coming up with “Wacko Jacko” in a headline. Rhyming is used because it is memorable and rolls off the tongue, so to speak. And the money shot sells newspapers. That may be what Murdoch’s minions were after in the Millie Dowler story– the teenager who was murdered in Britain. Her phone was hacked by Murdoch’s tabloid darlings hoping to get the story on her disappearance and predicable death. The hackers were deleting her voicemail messages which led her parents to believe she was still alive.

There is no defense for that kind of depravity and behavior. In the subway train photo, the New York Post defends the photographer as being unable to get to the man on the track and nobody at the station assisted him in getting up to the platform either. But did we really need to see this graphic photo? The tabloid Post, as well as countless other tasteless journalistic practices that seems to leave ethics on the cutting room floor, cites the first amendment as justification.

The public airwaves and the publishing industry are supposed to follow ethics (written as codes) and their products are supposed to “serve the public interest.” How exactly does toxic media serve the public interest? If they don’t serve your interest, you have the right to complain and the means to levy criticism far heavier than the comment section. You can write to the FCC or an equivalent oversight body in your neighborhood on the globe. In fact, I just received word from a constituent that the British are taking a serious look at the sewer that masquerades as journalism there. Currently the British OFCOM (Media oversight commission) has no teeth.

And here in America Murdoch is rumored to have his eye on both the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune. Under the current FCC Rules, Murdoch may not acquisition more media in the areas he is already vested. That means no more media real estate for Murdoch unless the FCC changes its rules. And the FCC is actually considering it!

Murdoch is the current owner of The Sun Newspaper and former owner of the News of the World and News Corporation which owns Fox News and Universal Studios among a huge empire of holdings that influence the media and public opinion. Murdoch moved from Australia to Britain where he deliberately targeted Madonna and Michael Jackson with salacious stories because he was after the youth demographic.

“Wacko Jacko” is not just an insult, it is a racial epithet referring to monkeys which is a moniker for African Americans. Jacko was a famous fighting Macac monkey and we’ve written here before about the term:

“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “Jacko” dates back to the mid-1600s, as a Flemish approximation of the Bantu word for monkey in the Congo and southern Gabon. The word migrated north, taking on all the racist connotations that followed African colonization. By the early 1800s, Jacko Maccacco, a famous fighting monkey, could be found on display in Westminster Pit, a notorious London arena for dog fights.The word had entered the common vernacular, and it eventually became a racist shorthand for blacks.

Today, the word is used mainly by two groups of people: scientists studying African and Asian primates, and bullies looking to insult others for the color of their skin. An online dictionary of ethnic slurs lists “macaque” as a French and Belgian word for black North Africans. In the Oxford Spanish Dictionary, “macaco” and “macaca” carry the colloquial meaning of “little devil,” “Chinaman” and “ugly person.” Anthropologists who study Brazilian street slang have noted that the police will call the local kids “macaco,” or monkey, in reference to their African heritage.”

The media frenzy surrounding Michael Jackson, the practice of taking an accusation and running with it, and the front page dismemberment of real people is Rupert Murdoch’s contribution to journalism.

The 2005 trial and media feeding frenzy and the media’s position that a guilty man got off, dimmed the light in Michael Jackson’s eyes and the rest is history.

I filed a complaint about the photo because I see it as disgusting moral pornography and pimping the death of a man to sell papers. It’s indecent and I certainly couldn’t find any “serving the public interest” in it which is what the media is supposed to do.

THE AIRWAVES BELONG TO US! The toxic dump that we call journalism today is an environmental hazard and it will only get worse if the FCC relaxes regulations.

Please make your voice heard. Write. Call. Complain. Make sure what happened to Michael, Diana and others doesn’t happen to more artists and global treasures whose humanitarian efforts changed the world. Monopolies in media do not serve the public interest. In fact these serve depravity and the devolution of human beings. You have a voice. A huge voice. Use it!

Here are some ways you can educate yourself, protest with petitions and work on making that change…

What’s wrong with the media?

Bill Moyers speaks about the dangers of more Media Consolidation

Rupert Murdoch wants more media: LA Times and Chicago Tribune

Sue Wilson speaks about the FCC

Now take Action:

Free Press on media reform [Sign the Petition]

Complain or tell them you don’t want more media consolidation. Tell them that big media in the hands of a few billionaires undermines democracy.

Write your representative.
Write your senator.

 Ask them to limit how much media one person or entity can own.

And tell the FCC that you expect them to be ethical and transparent and inform the people of proposals. Tell them you  (the people) own the airwaves and you want a voice in deciding what media you will agree to consume and who will deliver it.

FCC Contacts

Now we need to get busy; we have work to do! THE FCC IS GOING TO TRY TO SNEAK THIS THROUGH BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR!

Good News from Britain
For those in Britain there is already very good news. Now write “Thank You” letters to Leveson and the committee that took on this arduous assignment. Thank them for their ethical stand toward media.

British Call for Media Reform

Here is a letter I recently received from an Inner Michael reader:

Dear Barbara,

I promised you ages ago that as soon as I heard that the Leveson Inquiry into media ethical standards, was published, I would contact you. Well, it was today! At last!

This lunchtime, early afternoon, the senior judge, Lord Leveson read out his report; all 2000 pages of it, containing 377 witness statements, 300 recorded statements at a cost of £4.4 million.

History was made in London, as Parliament has not set rules to control the Press in over 300 years, since 1695! The judge said it was the most comprehensive look at the Press ever seen.

He gave a damning judgment on some British newspapers and said the British Press had not been held to account for its privileged and powerful place, and influence in our society, or its responsibility to the public. Its own code of conduct had been ignored too many times, and the Press Complaints Commission had failed.

Havoc and hardship had been wreaked in the lives of innocent people, who had suffered in an unimaginable way, which had led to devastating consequences. Some media had behaved in a reckless and outrageous way.’

‘There must be change’. (‘Make That Change’)?

He spoke about the power of the Press to affect politics and criticised the ‘too close’ links between politicians and the Press.

He added that the British Press serves the public to a constant high standard most of the time, with great investigating journalism, to inform, educate and entertain.

He recommended that it was essential that a new truly independent Press self-regulatory body was set up to satisfy the public, with law/legislation backing, and no editors to ‘mark their own homework’. Fines of up to £1 million could be imposed for breaking the rules. Compensation must be paid for breaches of privacy.

He wanted it to be fair and right for everyone, for the benefit of the Press and in the best public interest. More transparency was needed.

Here’s my personal request:

If Michael Jackson fans truly want to make that change and change the world, become activists. Instead of wildly discharging your anger at injustices, respectfully and civily teach people what you want them to know while demonstrating civil behavior to others. If you behave badly and like a swarm, you will not be respected. You will not be listened to. If you identify yourself as a fan, you will be immediately be dismissed as a radical fringe.

Instead, whenever you see someone being bullied in the media, call them out respectfully, register your displeasure with a comment or letter. Do it every time you find something offensive. Complain about how women are represented in the media, how minorities are too excluded, watch what Sue Wilson has to say, and take the political actions needed to change things– let the officials know how you feel. It only takes a few people to start a movement. This Is It. 


  1. Lynaire Williams said . . .

    God Bless an innocent nurse, who by her very profession, was a soul who cared about humanity.So traumatised at being duped by a “prank” and the resulting media coverage, that she saw no other way out but death.
    She must have felt as though it was treason that she had commited.
    God bless her family and children.
    God Bless my trans-tasman cousins. Prolific jokers making NZers the butt of most of their “cleverness”, who now have to live with the cosequences of that act.
    God Bless William and Kate whose happiness surely must be shadowed by these events.
    And Barbara, as you have always expressed,it is the celebrity culture that causes so much of it. Did you hear the conversation on the news?
    I cringed because the nurse really thought she was speaking to the Queen and I felt sad for her. Who would question the Queen of England?
    Of course I feel so much sadder now.
    Bless You too,

    Posted December 8, 2012 at 1:45 am | Permalink
  2. Poca said . . .

    Dear Barbara,
    I signed the petition. Thank you for being the voice of the voiceless. We must start taking care of each other and this is one way we can do it. Michael and Diana travelled the world and saw things in this world that were wrong and they wanted to make a difference for the poor children, but the media wanted to destroy them and discredit them. Barbara, now thanks to your articles people are awakening and taking action, not in a way that you discussed in your articles but in a kind, respectful, and responsible way. I hope everyone will get on board so we can make a difference like Michael, Diana, and countless others.

    Posted December 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  3. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks P, it helps to hear that the information is useful. Bless you and all those who use their caring to take action.

    Posted December 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    This is what L is speaking about:
    This is a very sad story but behind the shadow of this event is the light that has been shined on treachery for the sake of tabloid tactics. The public is outraged and the staion is being bombarded with criticism.

    Like a community whose cries to put up a stop sign at a busy country intersection are ignored until a few people get killed there, casualties become very convincing that something has to change. This nurse is a casualty of the reckless kind of “journalism” that has infected our society. The question is: How many more bodies will it take before people see the true cause and effect and their own connection to the killing field?

    Posted December 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
  5. Saanchitha said . . .

    Depending on the sins you’d like to see Murdoch and Co. suffer for, it would seem that if one wants him and News Corp. to fail, one wants the ernite current industry to fail, as well. Propping up not just old, but truly obsolete, business models should never be rewarded regardless of the perceived quality of their content. Because the business model can no longer help but taint that content directly or indirectly. Whether it be for fear of backlash from advertisers, or concern over possible litigation, or simply the inability to respond with the swiftness the 21t century now requires of information outlets, journalism needs to change, and change drastically. It will. Regardless of whether or not Disney, News Corp., or the rest of the conglomerates follow, it may very well be unavoidable. The only thing that has even a chance at stopping it, is the issue of net neutrality and its stepchild of metered bandwidth consumption for consumers and content providers.

    Posted June 29, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

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