A Reader’s Guide to Back to the Future

I noticed a motif of paper, reading, and the written word throughout the Back to the Future trilogy. Perhaps that’s much more common in movies set in pre-Internet times, but I thought it was especially prevalent in the Holy Trilogy:

Part I:

Part 2:

 Part 3:



Area Man Sad

I could see it coming, but I read the news about The Onion ceasing all print publication with sadness. Growing up in Madison, the Onion‘s hometown, and now living in Chicago, its current headquarters, I’ve had easy access to the weekly editions. Lately my Onion diet has been exclusively online, so the print copy is hardly essential to the reading experience. But I’ve often grabbed a copy before hopping on the L or the bus, which allowed me to read through whole articles rather than simply skimming the headlines, and to enjoy the little bits you don’t get online.

To go tangential: Like most younger folks these days, I get pretty much all my non-satirical news online. Really, the only time I pick up a newspaper is at my parents’ house, and that’s usually for the crossword. If I’m at the doctor’s office or the bookstore I’ll eagerly devour a print magazine, if only because I’m less liable to become distracted than if I were to read it online, just a tab away from another distracting Internet nugget (Internugget?). But besides books (no thanks, e-readers) and the occasional magazine, I’m a largely paperless information consumer. I’m OK with that, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss carrying The Onion with me.

I’ll have onion in my dinner tonight, in loving memory.

America Media Politics

Murdoch Expands His Mega Media Empire

Published in the North Central Chronicle on September 14, 2007.

First published in 1889, the Wall Street Journal has won countless Pulitzer Prizes and worldwide acclaim for its quality reporting and editorials. It also was the first news outlet to report Enron’s financial disaster, as well as the Sept. 11 attacks. So what lies ahead for such a highly regarded and successful newspaper?

Rupert Murdoch buys it.

That’s right. The same man who owns American Idol, Fox News Channel and MySpace now owns one of the most prestigious names in U.S. news – possibly the world. The average citizen, however, may see nothing wrong with this. After all, we live in a capitalist society. Aren’t businesses allowed to grow?

In fact, the buyout of the Wall Street Journal illustrates the very thing that’s wrong with our capitalist society and our democracy. We’re much more interested in making a buck than preserving our sacred constitutional rights. But hey, if one man can afford to own dozens of newspapers, cable channels, magazines, a film studio and two publishing companies, what’s the sense in stopping him from buying more? Why even fight it?

What most people fail to grasp is that when media businesses merge, a voice in the media is lost. Pretty soon, when most mainstream media outlets are owned by just a few corporations as they are now, there are few remaining independent, credible voices left. This is when our basic right to information starts to diminish.

We all have a right to truth from the media. James Madison, Founding Father and architect of the U.S. Constitution, said that “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”

Essentially, we need a free press. In order for this country to survive this crazy thing we call politics, we need to know what’s going on. Fox News and CNN, the two highest rated and well-known cable news outlets, can’t tell you whole truths because their bosses depend on an uninformed public that is not willing to step up and force change.

But here is the truth: The only thing stopping this country from becoming an even greater nation is the people itself. We are apathetic, unaware and unwilling to force our media and our country to serve the basic rights of its citizens, rather than the greed of its stockholders.

Democracy and capitalism can work well together – so long as they keep each other in check. Our democracy may be the most bragged about democracy in the world, but that doesn’t make it the best. Right now, our capitalism is beating the hell out of our democracy. And Murdoch’s latest move is just kicking democracy while it’s down.

The Wall Street Journal buyout should be a wake up call to all Americans who love their country. We can’t see the truth about the Iraq War, global warming, the 2008 Presidential election or concentrated ownership in the media if the media moguls are consistently pulling the wool over our eyes. Do yourself a favor and open your eyes and see for yourself.