Viewfinder: Media Diversity and You

The videos that you make are each unique and individual expressions. In a world that is brimming with TV produced by the entertainment industry, our society needs more programming diversity. As a video creator, the simple act of making videos for people to view can be one of the greatest contributions that you can make to society.

A select few in LA and New York create the vast majority of TV programming in this country. This process is driven by ratings and advertisers willing to pay big bucks to reach an audience numbering in the tens of millions. Market conditions force motion picture and television programming executives to create programs that appeal to the greatest number of people and offend the least number of people. Larger audiences result in higher advertising revenues. Marketers purchase TV commercials with the goal of persuading us to buy as many products as possible. As a result, while the variety of shows is impressive, there is precious little diversity.

To insure diversity, we need a multitude of video creators not beholden to the biggest and most powerful companies and advertisers. Creative individual video producers, are critical to maintain an open and free society. As one of these individuals, it is important that you are free, and that you separate your voice from the larger and louder one that may want to drown you out.

By allowing the lowest-common-denominator strategy of TV production to prevail, we tend to see common themes (which are rare in society) illustrated with unrealistic prevalence on TV. Consider violence. There must be something about the imagery of violence that is compelling to watch on TV, yet in our day-to-day lives, we don’t witness much violence. The violence that we see on TV is, unfortunately, usually portrayed as an effective solution to a problem.

Television also plays a significant role in the shaping of public opinion. I am concerned that the multitudes are lulled into complacency on many issues. The lack of diversity forces us to accept mediocrity. Rarely does TV challenge us to think very deeply.

We live in a country where advertisers want to convince us that our pursuit of happiness is linked to the stuff we buy. They create stories and snippets that grab our attention and not only nudge us to buy their goods, but also show us people that they want us to emulate. They tell us how to think. Sounds a bit like a political dictator to me. In our world today, it is not about any particular political ideology, other than making money.

I appreciate your individual contributions to the revolution of television diversity that you are participating in. The programming you produce gives us all more choices and greater understanding of our world. More channels ought to mean more diversity and it can, with a little help from folks like you.

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