Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“The 4th Branch of Government”

Written by: on November 9, 2012

Within the last 24 hours, several dozen teenagers have expressed to me their feelings about the recent presidential election. While some came across angry and disappointed, others were excited and hopeful, and still others could care less either way. Maybe one of the most striking similarities in each group was that the majority of the students did not use a hint of foundational evidence – records, job experience, or their own personal values – to choose their candidate. What paraded out of their mouths was that their candidate had great facial features, seemed to have soul, had a big family, the candidate’s wife did or did not have an attractive hair style, and another said, “I just compared the YouTube and commercial snippets about each candidate and went with the lessor of the two evils”.

Propaganda through social media is prevalent in our day. True and false messages are hurled through media outlets in seconds, influencing the uninformed, semi-educating the lazy learner, and retooling how postmodernity deals with fact and fiction. While listening to one of the better-informed students, the thought was submitted that the media has become the 4th branch of government in the United States.

Last week I had the awesome privilege of sitting twice under the voice of one of my new heroes, Dr. Leonard Sweet. While our text, A Social History of the Media, speaks from Gutenberg to the Internet, Dr. Sweet believes that culture has moved from Gutenberg to a primary emphasis on images. According to our society, looks play a huge role in our decision making, a behavior echoed in my students’ comments.

While the presidential election may be over, the images of political ads will not be soon forgotten. It is imperative that we work on reigning in the 4th branch of government on a global scale. Though we need the media and acknowledge its role in our daily lives, shouldn’t it be held accountable for its behavior and impact on society in regards to credibility?

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