The article that gives wider context to this Ghion Cast is below this video where I discuss the urgent need for a media free of corporatism.
I witnessed the most horrific accident last night in Herndon, Virginia. A van was smashed violently by a truck on Centreville Road as a sea of police officers and EMT personnel were frantically attending to victims stuck inside. I did not see the initial collision; in all honesty I was busy editing the latest Ghion Cast to realize that right outside of the window something truly grim had taken place. It was not until the sound of helicopter blades started to shake the neighborhood that I was stirred to look outside. All the sudden I was entranced; a quiet Northern Virginia suburb had been transformed into what looked like a war zone—car parts were strewn about and blue lights flashing everywhere.
As ghastly as the accident was, my first reaction was to gaze and speculate. In fact, I thought about rushing to my phone to broadcast the tragic scene as some type of exclusive footage for the Ghion Journal. But then I thought the better of it and realized that the people below were in dire straights. This was no time to rubber neck nor was this a time to use a catastrophe as a means of catching eyeballs and clicks. Unable to do anything else, I decided to pray and hope everyone in the wreckage of steel and smashed windows would survive what looked to be a deadly accident.
Yet, in this most dire situation, I also saw the best of humanity. The red van had three kids in the back and a mother in the driver seat. They were a “black” family and the vast majority of attending police officers and emergency personnel were “white”. Yet, these non-nonsensical labels of black and white [watch We are Not Black] and the endless ways we are conditioned to see each other differently were all washed away by the sheer gravity of the moment. In a flash of calamity, I saw the best of humanity. The mother had a hijab on and was most likely Muslim, the officers could have been Donald Trump voters. None of it mattered; in that hour of anguish, everyone was just human.
I found out this morning that the accident was caused by a man who carjacked a truck in order to flee after he was about to be arrested for beating a child. It was tragic fate that a family on their way home or to some event happened to be in the path of an fugitive on the lam. I could not get the scene out of my head; I scanned the news to see if everyone lived as I hoped above all that the children were safe. As I started to drink my coffee and pondering the contours of this article, I realized what is missing in the media landscape. The model of sensationalism and outrage that corporate media has perfected is here to cater to our instincts. After all, my initial reaction was to record the incident last night; I knew in the back of my mind that people would rush to see what was taking place.
For the same reason why I was glued to the tragedy taking place and the same reason why a crowd of people on the side of the road were braving the December frost to witness the unfolding accident is why we all look when something awful is taking place. Rubbernecking is as natural as breathing and swallowing. But the “fourth estate” should not be feeding into our basest behaviors; those who seek the profession of journalism should have it at our core to elevate human thinking and to use media as a means to enhance public discourse. What we need is a media that shines a light and leads rational conversations instead of a media that lights a fire and walks away.
Richard Nixon once said that he was running to be the voice for the silent majority. History notes that he was just another criminal politician who used identity politics and separable grievances to capture the White House. In a way though, Tricky Dick was right. There is an ignored super majority of humanity that is being disregarded as our politics and pop culture caters to the zealots who reside at the extremes. What we need is media for the silenced humanity. That is the aim and purpose behind the Ghion Journal; my hope is to get beyond the sensationalism and outrage and present stories through the prism of our common humanity.
Journalism should be about two things above all else. Speak truth to power and defend the public interest. Corporate media has inverted these principles as they seek power and defraud the public interest. This is what happens when profit motives become codes of conduct; media companies that are owned by corporations seek subscription growth as a means of inflating their top and bottom line revenues. We can do better than this. As the video above notes, this is the reason I started the Ghion Journal exactly one year ago. We aim to speak to our common humanity and to speak against the few who use their clout to repress the rest of us. I truly hope that the family in the van is safe and that they are made whole in time. I also want to thank the Fairfax Police and Fire Department and the men and women who rushed to the aid of the victims last night. I write all the time against the excesses of our government and the vices of the aristocracy who hoard the riches of the world for themselves. Yet my condemnation of those who abuse their authority should not be taken as a condemnation of the totality. There are honorable people who work in government and put on the uniform to serve their fellow citizens [read Thin Blue Line to Full Circle]. I pray we come together in good times as we do when we unite during tragic events. #Media4SilencedHumanity
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Check out the previous Ghion Cast where I discuss the way humanity is one and how we can advance justice.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.