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Thread: Change in media reporting

  1. #1
    Groundskeeping Dept. SWCAdmin's Avatar
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    Default Change in media reporting

    I got a chuckle out of this piece of internet fluff. Almost posted it in the Kitakidogo Social Club forum. But since I laughed and then cried, I thought I'd share it here and see if it spawned a serious discussion.

    I am working my way through "The Utility of Force" at the moment, appreciating its concept of "wars amongst the people," and see this caricature as a satirical spin on a real, real issue.

    This is how the Normandy invasion would be reported today. Sounds familiar.

    June 6, 1944. -NORMANDY- Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more wounded today in the first hours of America's unilateral invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops.

    Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated and reaction against the American invasion was running high. "We are dying for no reason," said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. "Americans can't even shoot straight. I never thought I'd say this, but life was better under Hitler."

    The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, threatening the species with extinction.

    A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised. "This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought," said Christine Moanmore. "And it's all about corporate greed."

    Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. "Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to big beer," said Pierre LeWimp. "Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt's beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune."

    Protestors said America's aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans were allegedly developing a secret weapon, a so-called "atomic bomb." Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany.

    Shortly after the invasion began reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by Americans. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at so-called "concentration camps" has been rumored but so far remains unproven.

    Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion and French officials are concerned that uncollected corpses pose a public health risk. "The Americans should have planned for this in advance," they said. "It's their mess and we don't intend to clean it up."

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    That's probably how it would be reported today. It's a very, very serious problem. Here, are a my opinions on this issues causations:
    1. People are too trusting of the media and do not seem to have the skills or background knowledge (or ability to find the background knowledge) needed to really evaluate what they are dealing with.
    2. What's most alarming is that it is often the most educate (by this I mean a lot of degrees as oppose to actually being "educated") who are most ignorant and gullible in this regard.
    3. For many people (especially those mentioned in #2) it is a matter of their desire to feel good about themselves via feeling badly. You can never underestimate how much people will brainwash themselves in order to feel better about themselves, or just in general (note: sometimes people enjoy feeling badly.)
    4. Reporters need to go to “journalism school.” Imagine if they just hired a good writer/researcher with understanding of the ethical and legal issues. Imagine if he actually had a strong and broad education that allowed him to have some understanding of what he was looking at. It would be horrible, they might actually get a reporter that reported on what was going on. OMG!
    5. They are also practically free from scrutiny. They extend their “journalistic rights”granted to them far beyond their legal limits and protect their own to a reckless and irresponsible degree.
    6. Public Journalism! This is frightening stuff.


    Adam L

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWCAdmin View Post
    ...and see this caricature as a satirical spin on a real, real issue.
    Please define what you see as the "real, real issue" at hand here? I think I know what you are implying but want to be sure before I respond.

    gian

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    It's not even close.
    That speculative text is just the expression of a cliché.

    Such a distorted view of the reporting originates a lot in the distorted view of a conflict as shared by service members.
    Reporters are civilians, and they try to cover the whole story more often than a soldier wants to think about the whole story. It's not surprising that soldiers feel that the reporting is off - it's off their view of the conflict.

    Reporters are (wo)men and fallible, in fact my rule of thumb about average newspapers is "1/3 right, 1/3 correct but misses the point and 1/3 wrong".
    A regional newspaper chief editor once confirmed to me that journalists are just all-round dilettantes.

    But the fictional text above is not anywhere near representative. It's based on a cliché, not on reality.
    A realistic fictional text would have included this:
    - time
    - location
    - numbers
    - first success indicators/reports
    - expected casualty range (official and/or "experts" guesses)
    - key statements of the press conference/release, probably a quote
    - mention of the supreme commander of the operation by name and rank
    - probably an improvised map
    - at least one photo, for example of a sky full of combat aircraft
    - mention of an impressively destructive bombardment that leaves little chance of survival
    - some very despising words about the enemy (OK, maybe "fascists" or "Nazis" would have been despising enough)
    - outlook on what the operation might cause in the medium term

    Journalists write about environmental hazards of military actions/hardware when they've got no better stories.

    They usually don't jump on the very first stories of civilian casualties and war crimes, but instead there's a threshold: If too much happens, they're fed up and begin to report about it, taking examples and emphasize these few examples (which then seems out of proportion to uniformed personnel, of course).
    Foreign (neutral or unfriendly nations') press is of course a bit or drastically more unfriendly towards military operations (lower or no thresholds).

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Life is a cliché...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's not even close.
    That speculative text is just the expression of a cliché.
    Uh, yeah -- the text is also satire. Broad, yes but still satire.
    Reporters are (wo)men and fallible, in fact my rule of thumb about average newspapers is "1/3 right, 1/3 correct but misses the point and 1/3 wrong".

    A regional newspaper chief editor once confirmed to me that journalists are just all-round dilettantes.
    Wwe can agree on the latter. With regard to the former I can essentially agree but would point out that those figures effectively make them wrong 2/3 of the time...
    They usually don't jump on the very first stories of civilian casualties and war crimes, but instead there's a threshold: If too much happens, they're fed up and begin to report about it, taking examples and emphasize these few examples (which then seems out of proportion to uniformed personnel, of course).
    Agreed. However, their threshold is as subject to their bias as are the uniformed personnel to their biases.
    Foreign (neutral or unfriendly nations') press is of course a bit or drastically more unfriendly towards military operations (lower or no thresholds).
    True. Thus the invitation to broad satire...

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    That's probably how it would be reported today.
    With the direction this thread seems to be heading I want to make sure everyone knows I was joking when I said that.

    Thanks,
    Adam L

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    With the direction this thread seems to be heading I want to make sure everyone knows I was joking when I said that.

    Thanks,
    Adam L
    Yeah, OK.
    But I've heard such comments before, and they were meant more seriously.

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Yeah, OK.
    But I've heard such comments before, and they were meant more seriously.
    Look, I see we obviously have very different opinons of the media. I do not view the media in general at all favorably these days. It's next to impossible to find anything resembling the news on television. Even the BBC is pretty bad. Part of the problem is a good 50% of everything shown is not newsworthy. The newspapers (I can only speak as to US/Canadian papers) are in about the same shape in my opinon. I've usually been a NYT/WSJ reader, but the NYT has taken a nose dive the last decade or so. (especially the last 5 years) I think I should point out that my disdain for the media is independent of my opinions on how they are covering conflicts world wide. Their coverage of all matters is most often quite dreadful in my opinion.

    Adam L
    Last edited by Adam L; 07-05-2008 at 08:38 PM.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    Look, I see we obviously have very different opinons of the media. I do not view the media in general at all favorably these days. It's next to impossible to find anything resembling the news on television. Even the BBC is pretty bad. Part of the problem is a good 50% of everything shown is not newsworthy. The newspapers (I can only speak as to US/Canadian papers) are in about the same shape in my opinon. I've usually been a NYT/WSJ reader, but the NYT has taken a nose dive the last decade or so. (especially the last 5 years) I think I should point out that my disdain for the media is independent of my opinions on how they are covering conflicts world wide. Their coverage of all matters is most often quite dreadful in my opinion.

    Adam L
    It's not just isolated to American media. My favorites list on my browser has 22 American media outlets, from my smalltown boyhood news rag to the big 3 networks and other big 3 cable news networks. I look at all 22 each day because I'm not sure what to believe. So I take snipits of each, look for common themes and figure I'm getting the 70% solution of the facts.

    Additionally, I have 27 media sites, to include a search engine for all the world's online newspapers, for countries outside the US. These include BBC, Sky, Der Spiegel, IHT, Tehran Times, The Kurdistani, NPRK propeganda, etc...

    I read because I'm interested in what the other views are as well. However, some of the writing, even through the translation, of some of the other media outlets in the world is even more slanted than the famous FoxNews v. CNN. One only needs to look at the Palestine Times v. Jerusalem Post.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Personally I'm all for the cartoon version


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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    Personally I'm all for the cartoon version
    LOL! SPUD, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD! I LOVE THAT CARTOON! LOL!

    Sorry, about that. I just watched Patton.

    Adam L

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    The big difference between WWII and today is that censorship is pretty much impossible today - or at least very, very difficult. In WWII there wasn't any independent media in the sense we think of it today to say nothing of all the varied ways of collecting and disseminating information.

    And IMO we are still in a transition period. How long until CNN and Fox have their own UAV fleets to bring us live coverage of the latest battle, catastrophy or tragedy? Or their own imagery satellites? Or who knows what?

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    And IMO we are still in a transition period. How long until CNN and Fox have their own UAV fleets to bring us live coverage of the latest battle, catastrophy or tragedy? Or their own imagery satellites? Or who knows what?
    They could have it now if they wanted it. I just don't think profits would improve significantly enough to offset the expense. It would not surprise me if they wanted to bring TV journalism into a new era of voyeurism. Actually, I think we may already be there.

    Adam L
    Last edited by Adam L; 07-06-2008 at 03:19 AM.

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    I don't even own a TV and, thus, I do not watch any of the cable news channels. I primarily get my news from the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, though I also read feeds from several others sources via an RSS reader. It is amazing how much more refreshing life is when you do not have an infobabe telling you about some new crisis everyday (missing 10-year-old girl, jailed celebrity, skyrocketing ATM fees, hardships of choosing between a 42" plasma screen TV or health insurance, etc).

    Sometimes I feel as though I am poorly informed because I miss out on Jack Cafferty reading email rants from "Bob in Ohio" or "Nancy in Seattle" about whatever lowest common denominator, populist load of crap that we're attempting to rile people up over today.

    Just out of curiosity, is the Today show still classified as news? I saw a few minutes of it at my parent's house last week. There was no news reported, but there was an outdoor concert, fashion tips for the 4th of July, a new recipe for chicken, and some chit-chat with people who were screaming and holding signs while trying to get on camera outside of the studio.

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I don't even own a TV and, thus, I do not watch any of the cable news channels. I primarily get my news from the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, though I also read feeds from several others sources via an RSS reader. It is amazing how much more refreshing life is when you do not have an infobabe telling you about some new crisis everyday (missing 10-year-old girl, jailed celebrity, skyrocketing ATM fees, hardships of choosing between a 42" plasma screen TV or health insurance, etc).

    Sometimes I feel as though I am poorly informed because I miss out on Jack Cafferty reading email rants from "Bob in Ohio" or "Nancy in Seattle" about whatever lowest common denominator, populist load of crap that we're attempting to rile people up over today.

    Just out of curiosity, is the Today show still classified as news? I saw a few minutes of it at my parent's house last week. There was no news reported, but there was an outdoor concert, fashion tips for the 4th of July, a new recipe for chicken, and some chit-chat with people who were screaming and holding signs while trying to get on camera outside of the studio.
    Makes you wonder about the state of civilization doesn't it? Either that, or if we are living in a science fiction novel. Is it just me or does it seem like some of the sci-fi stories are turning into reality?

    Adam L

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Please define what you see as the "real, real issue" at hand here? I think I know what you are implying but want to be sure before I respond.

    gian
    Or define what you see as the issue, since at the end of the day many issues are in fact a meeting between a number of individual interpretations of that issue. My own news grazing is something of a cross between RTKs and Schmedlap's (I have this major issue with coughing up about $100 a month to watch three channels, so no cable for this household), and I do find that there is a clarity of spin when you aren't saturated with outlets.

    And as far as I'm concerned, The Today Show isn't news. Of course, Entertainment Tonight also claims to be news, so go figure....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    ....I do not view the media in general at all favorably these days. It's next to impossible to find anything resembling the news on television. ....
    That and many of the other criticisms in this thread of the main stream media are created by an expectation gap of reality and fantasy. The fantasy is that for Americans in general the news organizations exist to provide factual representation of a dialog in politics and events. The reality is that there is no such rule or expectation. The first amendment protects political speech along with expression (just ask Larry Flynt) for the media, person walking down the street, or even crazy people outside military funerals.

    The media in general (CNN to CBS) does not exist to provide balanced reporting. The expectation since Ben Franklin and the Federalist Papers is that there will be spin, cajoling, coordinated yellow screaming, nasty pitiful arrogant, caustic spin in the reporting to bend the will of the people. You don't have to like it but as Hurst said you go report it and I'll start the war (something like that).

    Let's talk about the evening news. The early growth of the television market created this fantasy of balanced journalism. Whether we are talking about Walter Cronkite "The most trusted man in America", or Edward R. Murro "Goodnight and Goodluck" chasing the evil pixies of Macarthyism the reality is they all had biases. It is just people agreed with their biases. Who in the world would expect 18 minutes of content at an average of 45 seconds per story, 3 minutes for the big head line of the day, to have any relevance what so ever? Most of the Internet content from large media outlets is simply regurgitated hash done the same way because that is what they do. Only opinion pages are not given short shrift, and all of the large media outlets have shut down post-broadcast editorials. No more Edward Murro challenging our intellect or politics.

    The editorial boards of most news organizations are egotistical, sycophantic, arrogant, back stabbing, advertiser driven, petty groups who see the world through a myopic view of journalistic furor. Rather than consider them the spinners of lies and untruths it is the volume of sifting and the shallow level they think that is the problem. Most of the news organizations have cut their staffs to near zero, the regurgitate AP and Reuters like great truth, and people drink even more from the desiccated teat of information.

    The blogosphere isn't much better. I look at the top rated blogs by technocrati and other rating systems and what are they doing? They are rehashing AP and Reuters creating commentary on the stories in a vacuum of self censure and egoism. Most blogs take the mindless chatter and spew it forth just the same as the news organizations only with opinion embedded. The primary value of such being their nature to aggregate stories. There are very few places like Small Wars Journal that creates content that has had peer review layered to mitigate the mind numbing baseless arrogance found in the main stream media.

    All of that said the media is working with one caveat exactly as planned. The signal to noise ratio is unbalanced by the existence of media conglomerates and centralized ownership. This creates an echo chamber of ideas as owners pick and choose staff based on their own biases. The public has a tendency to gravitate towards the agent they agree with rather than the one that provides better reporting. Thus we see diatribes against The Clinton Network News (CNN), and the I won't say it (FOX) news organizations. Yet that is still how it should be. Debate with out rancor is a fine thing to wish for, but I wish to be good looking and young again too.

    Hopefully in the cauldron of the media we can still find the nugget of information, but it isn't that people are stupid, or that the media is inappropriately biased, or that people have no critical thinking skills, or that people are dumber than they used to be, or perhaps that there is a left/right wing conspiracy, but it is true that things in the media space should be uncomfortable.

    There is a wide gap between the fantasy of fair-balanced media and the reality of the humans and systems. It isn't that it is broken as quite the contrary it is working just the way it should. The speech and expression that makes us the most uncomfortable is likely the most protected speech just for that reason. The real fear is not that they do their job poorly in the main stream media but that they stop doing their job all together. That job is not to get the facts straight but to get the point across. Those are two different goals. As indoctrinated as we Americans are all to this fantasy concept of fair-balanced media it is difficult to accept, but it says no where in the first Amendment does it say fair/balanced/truth. It is freedom of speech/press that is protected not their veracity.

    You really don't want to watch a factual news broadcast where they tell you the water in the flood zone has risen 3 feet due to three bazillion gallons per minute flow rate, and increasing. Instead the story is broadcast as the toll on the living and dying and the reach into the lives of the effected. The compelling story is the suffering which is where we get "If it bleeds it leads" and other disaffected stories.

    One final thing. Censorship is always the last bastion of those who have lost an argument and the first step toward evil. Agree, disagree, but as long as the debate is in the open sooner or later the fallacious nature found in either argument will be shown. There is no practical limit on freedom of speech beyond slander, libel, and (argh) copyright. There is likely way to much restriction currently on freedom of speech from self censorship found in the political correctness movement. Today society is much more civil and as a result filled with much more drivel than in the 1960s. As a point where are the true scallawags of the media today? I can't find a Hunter S. Thompson, or Kerouac (chosen as opposites).

    It is the nature of the soldier to try and control that which could harm. Huntington and other talk about the civil military relations and a big part of that is media. MountainRunner has an entire BLOG about the media and the government. The reality is that the soldier should have a perspective that is slightly onerous toward the media as at no point in American history has the media given the military a free ride. Love the soldiers, hate the war, is no dichotomy to the journalist. It is highly incongruous to the soldier to say you love them, and then vilify their work. However, it is no less damning to the military member to vilify an entire amendment to the Constitution, by crying censor the bastards, then it is publicly support a particular presidential candidate. In a flip of the journalist credo the soldier can say hate the journalists, love the right to freedom of expression. Which should drive most journalists just as crazy as they do the military.
    Sam Liles
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    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Wow!

    Sam,

    Nice post.

    Regards

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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    That and many of the other criticisms in this thread of the main stream media are created by an expectation gap of reality and fantasy. The fantasy is that for Americans in general the news organizations exist to provide factual representation of a dialog in politics and events. The reality is that there is no such rule or expectation.
    I think that is correct for cable channels but not for the networks or even many newspapers. I think most people assume that the network news and local newspaper are filling the role of journalist, rather than of pundit, partisan, or entertainer. The networks and newspapers seem to embrace that image of the professional journalist, even though many of them are not.

    I don't fault CNN, FOX, or MSNBC for the drivel that they peddle. It is tabloid entertainment for people who have an interest in politics and I think that most viewers understand the bias of each channel. They need to sell advertising space. Political ideology is an effective way for them to segment their market. And I may be wrong, but I don't think that the cable news channels try to convince anyone that they are legitimate journalists. Even FOX's "fair and balanced" motto is aimed directly at conservatives who have long been irked by what they perceive as a left-leaning bias in the media. No leftist believes that FOX is fair and balanced. Most regular conservative viewers do, and that is why they watch it. MSNBC has staked out its ground on the left with Olbermann, Matthews, et al. CNN, partially in response to a left-leaning competitor and the growth of FOX seems to be trying to obtain a piece of the middle and center-right with the populist hysteria of Dobbs and Cafferty and the conservative Beck. The cable channels pride themselves on interviews with big-name pundits, eye-pleasing sets and effects, infobabes who are easy on the eyes, and continuous coverage of a narrow range of issues that are of interest to their left/right target audience.

    The cable channels like to emphasize "24/7" and "the biggest guests" and "immediate coverage." The networks, on the other hand, like to highlight the trust and professionalism of their anchor or their reporter in the field. "News you can trust" and "experience" is more the theme of the networks. And that is my beef with the networks.

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    I posted that somewhere myself once. Not sure where. But it is a nice spoof on today's press.

    The Truth:

    "This is a war and it must be expected that people will be killed..We would take twice the anticipated loss to be rid of the Germans"

    -- French Major General Pierre Koenig, de Gaul's head of French forces in Britain, in response to Churchill's nail biting over French civilian casualties before Operation Overlord.
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
    "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"


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