Bob Tamasy: The Megaphone Effect

Monday, February 3, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

We don’t see them as much anymore, but over the years cheerleaders have often used megaphones to amplify their voices for cheering on the home team. Megaphones are still employed today for various purposes, including crowd control and mass communication. Most are portable and electronic to enhance vocal amplification, but their purpose remains the same – to ensure the message is heard.

There’s another kind of “megaphone effect” going on today, although it has nothing to do with hand-held, cone-shaped voice magnifiers. It’s the megaphone of mass media.

Recent weeks have provided a good example. As cold weather swept across most of the country, especially the Midwest and Northeast, phrases like “Polar Vortex” and “Arctic Express” echoed from every news source. We heard from nearly everyone, except maybe Chicken Little proclaiming the sky is falling. A visitor from another planet could easily have concluded it’s never snowed before.

Of course it has, and extreme low temperatures have been recorded before, but not trumpeted to the tune of today’s mass media megaphone. For instance, some of us can remember winter 1979, when multiple blizzards afflicted many Northern states and much of the nation was in deep freeze. Living in Ohio, I recall the temperature remained far below the freezing mark for at least 30 days straight. Heating our homes became a concern. Natural gas shortages were predicted, causing parents of young families – as were my wife and I at the time – to fret over how to keep our children warm.

That was the year – coincidentally also in January – when the acclaimed mini-series “Roots” was aired over eight successive evenings. One reason that excellent show had such high viewership, ranked for many years at the top all-time for a mini-series, was it was so cold in much of the United States millions of people had nothing else to do but watch it.

The difference between that winter 35 years ago and today? We didn’t have incessant, 24/7 news media coverage and the Internet. All we knew was it was very cold, very snowy, and someday – as always – it would start getting warmer again as spring followed winter. We didn’t have CNN, Al Roker and the Weather Channel to make us fear we wouldn’t live to see the thaw.

This mass media megaphone isn’t confined only to weather reporting. If there’s ever a scandal, whether it be the politically motivated closing of a major commuter bridge; a professional athlete making ill-advised, outlandish comments immediately after a game; or some pseudo-celebrity offering personal opinions that grate against sensibilities of the self-appointed thought police, we never hear the end of it.

News is shouted, reiterated, shouted again, repeated and rehashed until the intended message reverberates in our sleep. Even if what’s said isn’t true, we hear it so much it starts sounding that way. And, I believe, that’s not by accident. Megaphones cut through the noise with volume and clarity. They’re used for a reason.

So what do we do, shout back? Do we use bigger, more sophisticated megaphones? I think just the opposite. The book of Proverbs has much to say about how we communicate, and advises being careful and economical with the words we express:

“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (Proverbs 4:24).

“When there are many words, transgression is not avoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

“A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly” (Proverbs 12:23).

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28).

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2).

There are many other examples, but you get the idea. It’s good advice, well worth following, whether you’re in the media or not.

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.



Tim Bays To Speak At Christ Unity On Sunday

Tim Bays will be the speaker and musician at Christ Unity of Chattanooga, 105 McBrien Rd, this  Sunday at 11 a.m. Tim Bays is a speaker, humorist and musical presenter who uses songs and stories to entertain, elevate and inspire. He has worked with companies from IBM to At Home Total Care and shared concert bills with artists ranging from Sarah Vaughn to ... (click for more)

Praying And Fasting Series Continues Sunday At Middle Valley COG

Middle Valley Church of God, 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'Things Are Starting To Happen '  in the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday.  This is part of a sermon series titled 'Praying And Fasting Will Motivate Us.'  This sermon series will focus on the need for believers to spend time in prayer and fasting as ... (click for more)

School Board Turns Thumbs Down To Proposed Funding Of Central Track

County school board members on Thursday night expressed a number of concerns about a proposed $500,000 new track under consideration for funding by the County Commission at Central High School. The vote was 9-0 to table a motion to accept the money (if offered). Karitsa Mosley-Jones said, "We've got students at schools on a high priority list and you're going to give me a track?" ... (click for more)

School Board Approves 4-Year Contract Extension With Independent Bus Drivers, Who Say They Can Handle 100 Routes; Extension Given On Custodial Contract

The county school board on Thursday night extended the contract by four years of school bus owner operators, who said they could deliver on 100 bus routes. The board delayed until a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Central High School the issue of whether to accept the offer of 100 contract routes. That would be handled by many of the current 49 owner operators taking ... (click for more)

Bakewell Mountain Community Thanks Commissioner Fairbanks

The residents of Bakewell Mountain want to formally thank Commissioner Randy Fairbanks for standing up for our community in protecting our property rights and families. He personally made several trips to our properties and homes to see how the proposed gun range would affect our daily lives with noise, traffic, and a decrease in property values. Sometimes the little guys need ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Just One Year Later…

If I hadn’t actually seen it happen, I would never have believed it. Not only did I wonder if it could ever happen, more often than not my disgust and dismay of such rampant disorder has filled me with more gloom and doom than you’ll find in a liberal Democrat on this, Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day. But I have got to proclaim that Thursday night I have never been as proud of the ... (click for more)