Mass Media’s Reach

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China Games ‘a broadcast record’

The Chinese Olympic games are now history, and the viewership of these games was stellar because there were so many Chinese watching the games and because the games were so magnificent. Whether the human and environmental costs of the games were greater than the $40 billion (hey, this guy uses the same template as I do) that the government is said to have spent on the games will not detract from the magnificence of the spectacle. These games were truly something to behold.

What is disturbing, however, is the remarkable reach that modern media have. As the above BBC article states, it is estimated that 800 million Chinese people watched the opening ceremonies, and that estimate may possibly place the number of global viewers at nearly 2 billion. One wonders how quickly a lie could propagate given such an immense audience. The digitally enhanced fireworks and the lip-syncing child were exposed, but what tricks were not?

Without a doubt, this is the sort of propaganda platform after which Hitler was lusting when he hosted the 1936 Olympic games. Although the Chinese regime cannot be compared with the Nazi regime, certainly it cannot be said that the zeal with which the Chinese regime pursued and conducted the Olympic games was born of pure benevolence. Most unfortunately, the remarkable success of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the phenomenal reach that its coverage enjoyed serve as reminders that the world is more vulnerable to propaganda than ever before.

Will some combination of responsibility in media management and regulatory regimes stop the ongoing decline of mass media into abject irrelevance and pure propaganda? We cannot hope so. People should take action.

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