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No Internet – No News: Lessons from Egypt

January 28, 2011

In my open letter to my readers in December, I requested my readers to support the print media. Now you know why. When upheaval occurs, communication is the first to go. Oppressive regimes want to control the media. When there is no electronic social media, no Internet, then face to face communication takes over in the void. Newspapers are essential forms of communication and in times of conflict, indispensable.

I am watching CNN and they stated they have found a workaround to broadcast what is going on in Egypt. But what if they could not broadcast? What if that type of upheaval happened here? But, it would not happen here, you say. It has happened here, in the 60s when dozens of cities were burning across America in reaction to the murder of Martin Luther King. We were fortunate that the news kept flowing. But, in light of recent events, can we take that chance now? Can we place our faith in our government that they will not one day pull the plug on electronic news media? Suffice it to say, the same market forces at work in Egypt are at work all over the world today. CNN reports that well educated young men and women are frustrated they cannot find work or are stuck with low paying jobs. They want more liberty and a better quality life. They are sick of the corruption in their government. Sound familiar?

Egypt may be the wakeup call to the rest of the developed world which needs to take notice that all governments are vulnerable. The peoples of the world want similar things: a decent standard of living, liberty, equality, and a voice. There are cracks in the foundation of the post-WWII world. We now know, according to the release this week of the FCIC report, that the systemic problems in the U.S. financial sector along with negligent U.S. government oversight and poor regulation caused the 2008 global economic collapse. Trillions were lost. Governments crippled. People’s lives ruined. It was not a revolution that caused this problem. It was white collar crime rooted at the very top tiers of our nation and across other nations who willfully participated in the risky behavior — all for gain, for money.

Now we have the fallout. Global food prices keep rising. People are under tremendous pressure to scratch out a living. Anger is mounting as people learn more about the truly wealthy elite who are perpetuating the disparity in wealth. People want to take control of their lives. Some will reinvent themselves peacefully. Some will resort to violence. The inherent problem is old paradigms have outlived their usefulness. And when that happens, then all bets are off for peaceful reinvention as the method of reformation. History bears this out. I am not for revolution. I am for constructive, peaceful reformation. America has a chance, an opening to keep pressing for this type of reform. We need to realize that we have serious socio-economic problems. We have 46 million Americans living in poverty. Egypt has 88 million. We have many more liberties than Egyptians. We have a government structure where many rule and not one man. We must take advantage of this moment. All of us must press for reform, else we too may find ourselves in the streets.

I cannot stress enough that we save our newspapers. We must not set ourselves up for a scenario like Egypt where a news blackout can occur – for any reason. As we watch, listen, and read about the upheaval in Egypt and abroad we must acknowledge the power of media in this process. Free people require a free press – so as to always be vigilant against the threat of tyranny and oppression. Print media is an indispensable part of our free press and must be saved from extinction or displacement by what is perceived as better technology.

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