Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Farewell to Bill Moyers

Friday night April 30th was the last edition of the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. Moyers is a monument of American Journalism and he has presented a series of journalistic programs on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) over the years. Coincidentally, NOW that he hosted for years had also its finale that same Friday. I watched the Journal as often as possible and it struck me consistently that I just did not hear anywhere else what I would hear on the Journal.

It prompted me to think about what information reaches us - and how. It is hard not to infer that the information that we get is filtered big time…

Moyers had strong liberal opinions that he was not afraid of expressing, so those who disagreed on his political views had an easy time criticizing him. I am a bit biased since I would agree with him most of the time. But I think I am critical and analytical enough to see what a balanced opinion is - and it always seemed to me that Moyers asked the good questions and wanted to get to the bottom of whatever topics he covered. I never felt that he gave a pass to anyone on his program.

I read the comments posted by many viewers after his last program and I share most people’s concerns that when Moyers goes (and he’s gone), where will we find balanced, thorough, and fair journalism?

Part of the finale was about everyday folks who had decided to make themselves heard and were not afraid to stand up to “big interests”. The coalition of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was featured and I was compelled to see very different people in that coalition in terms of age, background, ethnicity, profession, sharing that same concern, i.e. they had had enough of being trampled on and not being able to express their opinions.

I feel like in the US most of us have given up and are just passive in front of whatever is decided by Washington or big corporate interests that affects us directly. Or rather we think we are powerless – so why bother?? That is a very scary thought.

Also, I think Americans are distracted by their everyday concerns. So many of them are just focused on getting by and making ends meet, let alone preparing for their future and that of their kids (because of the absence of a safety net) that they won’t bother protesting whatever Corporate America or Washington decides that they disagree with. They have bigger fish to fry…

In my view, a lot of folks in this country are like rats in a maze running like crazy or have constantly a gun on their heads – it is just about getting to the next day. Especially since the economic crisis struck.

There is some cultural aspect at play as well I believe. Culturally, Americans are pretty disciplined and law-abiding, which may be helpful sometimes (you don’t sweat about being jumped ahead when you wait in line here…) but also may lead to a certain degree of passivity.

Thus, seeing that group of ordinary citizens rise and say no to business as usual was very comforting. The message was that it does not have to be that way – being a “nobody” and not having connections does not mean necessarily that you’ll never get your voice heard.

Also, it was a shot in the arm for me - with respect to my own engagement and level of optimism. Each one of us has a role to play and we can make this world look like what we want it to be…

Moyers said that he was optimistic about the future as long as the US remains a society of citizens vs. a society of consumers… He could not be more right.

Thank you, Mr. Moyers!!