Normon Soloman has a “modest proposal” for media reform. He’s properly worried about the influence of advertising on our culture. Specifically, he’s worried about the effects of advertisements for prescription drugs and processed (and fast) food. What does it say about our media culture when one may view television ads for greasy fast-food followed by ads for cholesterol medicine and both portray the good life following from consumption of the product? And, so, Soloman proposes:
“Every commercial for food and drugs should be taxed–with the proceeds going to pay for ‘truth commission’ ads from independent researchers–to keep the public informed about the latest scientific findings on the benefits and risks of such products. That kind of arrangement would be entirely justified. After all, tv and radio broadcasters use airwaves that are supposed to belong to the public.”
It seems to me that such information is readily available. And the press is always eager to run a health or “latest findings” story. Ah, but that’s not the same as advertising, in which the appeal is overwhelmingly emotional. So is Soloman suggesting airing “truth commission” ads that are as manipulative as commercial ads, or is he suggesting these ads be the typical, boring public service announcements that we know don’t work?
Here’s my modest proposal: Tax them if you want to, but find a way to encourage greater media literacy education in our schools. Ooooops. That won’t work. Corporations have been sponsoring curriculum for years now. Hmmmm…