To Al Gore, it seems as though America has slipped into ‘an
alternate universe.’ As cool as this sounds, it isn’t a good thing.
Rather, Gore believes the country’s democratic system is in a
tailspin. In a
speech delivered at the We Media conference in New York City
earlier this month, Gore expounded on why he thinks the nation’s
public forums, television in particular, are fundamentally flawed
and are corrupting American democracy.
According to Gore, America’s earliest decades were a time when a
‘marketplace of ideas’ thrived, when open public discussion was
seen as central to the success of democracy. He argues that as the
primary form of public discourse shifted from print to television,
that ‘marketplace’ collapsed. Cheap metal printing presses once
ubiquitous and readily available to many were, over time, replaced
by television networks controlled by conglomerates and almost
entirely inaccessible to individual citizens.
Quoting the German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, Gore describes
what’s happened as ‘the refeudalization of the public sphere.’ The
result is a situation in which most Americans sit on the sidelines
while a wealthy few control the news and advertising outlets and,
in turn, politics. Gore claims that such a radical reconfiguration
of the ‘marketplace’ has fogged and unfocused the public discourse
and has profoundly hindered America’s abilities to reason and make
choices. As a solution, Gore wants to return public forums to the
people. Recently, he launched Current TV, an independent news and
information network where average citizens participate and ‘the
meritocracy of ideas’ reigns.
— Archie Ingersoll
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Al Gore Addresses We Media
Related Links from the Utne
Messenger: Al Gore Saw the Future
Dissector: Al Gore, Journalism Teacher
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