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Thread: Change in media reporting

  1. #21
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    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.

    At the risk of quoting out of context. Walter Cronkite, in the days of three channels, incorrectly and devastatingly, reported that the war in Southeast Asia was lost after the Tet Offensive. He spoke too soon with devastating results based on no evidence. The VC and NVA lost the offensive. They won the hearts and minds of the American public thanks to Cronkite himself who should be held accountable for sensationalism that cost the lives of a lot of Americans.

    It is almost impossible for America to win a war with today's press without some sort of censorship. I think the government has done a good job keeping the press in the so-called "Green Zone". If these morons ventured out into the streets there is no telling where we would be right now. Same goes for Afghanistan. What has changed a lot since Vietnam, and occurred mostly during the wars in eastern Europe during the 90s, was the real risk of reporters getting killed at a higher rate than Vietnam. The other side really don't care about the war correspondents' well being any longer. Sure, a lot of reporters were killed in Vietnam. Keeping them out of the way and behind a desk, or rather, under a desk, is better than the old days when there were reporters with some courage and lack of backbone to tell the truth opting instead to report based sensationalism. Like the invisible hand of supply and demand in economics leaving the press to fend for themselves in a war zone will take care of a lot of sensationalism that could have a negative effect on the outcome of a conflict. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
    Last edited by Culpeper; 07-06-2008 at 05:51 PM.
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  2. #22
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No one asked but

    everyone is entitled to my opinion...

    Sam is correct and as Charlie said, it's a good post.

    Schmedlap is also correct and both his posts were good.

    Between the two I seem to fall. I don't watch TV and do not miss it; I check maybe 30-40 sources worldwide a week on the internet and manage to stay reasonably abreast of what's happening. I remain sadly disappointed in the quality of today's journalism as I compare it to the quality of forty or fifty years ago. There's no comparison. The issue is greater than the bottom line of the entertainment industry that owns TV 'News' because the total lack of seriousness and the celebrity focus is also present in most broadsheet newspapers -- it, is I think, an issue of a (wrongful) belief in the majesty of the media and their (equally wrong IMO) assessment that they are giving the public what the public wants. They may be but no one from my ten year old niece up to random waiters and cashiers to some of my older than I am friends seems to agree with them on that score; thus I'm unsure where they get that...

    I think (though I might have missed it in the thread) what is not said is the terrible ignorance of most of the reporting media types. Not all, there are some great ones out there but the majority of reporters IMO exhibit an astounding lack of knowledge about most subjects. The natural mildly left bias of most journalists, particularly the junior editor and producers is not a problem, that can be filtered. Ignorance cannot be filtered and a lack of clarity in reporting or editing can create wrongful assumptions on the part of readers or viewers.

    Seems to me that just as the Education community is wrong to insist on Ed. degrees for K-12 (sorry, Sam ) the jorno commune is wrong to insist on journalism degrees for their practitioners. Makes no difference how great your presentation is if you aren't imparting knowledge.

    Then, if one has none, it's difficult to impart...

  3. #23
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Seems to me that just as the Education community is wrong to insist on Ed. degrees for K-12 (sorry, Sam ) the jorno commune is wrong to insist on journalism degrees for their practitioners. Makes no difference how great your presentation is if you aren't imparting knowledge.

    Then, if one has none, it's difficult to impart...
    Exactly how I feel. Well said.

    Adam L

  4. #24
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Seems to me that just as the Education community is wrong to insist on Ed. degrees for K-12 (sorry, Sam ) the jorno commune is wrong to insist on journalism degrees for their practitioners. Makes no difference how great your presentation is if you aren't imparting knowledge.
    Then, if one has none, it's difficult to impart...
    No apology needed Ken, in that a chemistry teacher in high school should have a degree in chemistry and a certificate in education. Rather than the degree in education and the (often lack of) certificate in chemistry. K-elementary I think the education degree is fine but when you go to classes based on content instead of education (intermediate, middle, junior, high school) the teacher should be at least a fair expert in their field.

    When looking at reporter credentials for reporting the news one of the watch dog groups found that the weather channel had the most relevant training/education/reporting ratios with most of their reporters having meteorology degrees.

    There is more to the story though than rampant anti-intellectualism on one hand and the pseudo credentialism on the other hand. The media and the issues with society are no less complex than civil military issues. The censorship rampant in the reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan with the associated cacophony of complaints is a warning of peril. Whereas democracy and capitalism have nothing to do with each other a free press is a corner stone to democracy.
    Sam Liles
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    Default weather channel

    That's why they are always able to cover all the hot spots around the world.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    When looking at reporter credentials for reporting the news one of the watch dog groups found that the weather channel had the most relevant training/education/reporting ratios with most of their reporters having meteorology degrees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    The censorship rampant in the reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan with the associated cacophony of complaints is a warning of peril. Whereas democracy and capitalism have nothing to do with each other a free press is a corner stone to democracy.
    Who is being censored and by whom?

  7. #27
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Running with the education angle....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    everyone is entitled to my opinion...

    Sam is correct and as Charlie said, it's a good post.

    Schmedlap is also correct and both his posts were good.

    Between the two I seem to fall. I don't watch TV and do not miss it; I check maybe 30-40 sources worldwide a week on the internet and manage to stay reasonably abreast of what's happening. I remain sadly disappointed in the quality of today's journalism as I compare it to the quality of forty or fifty years ago. There's no comparison.
    From the July 6th 2008 FT

    For decades the educational quality of the US labour force surged. In 1940, less than 5 per cent of the population aged 25-64 had at least a four-year college education. By 2000, the proportion had increased to nearly 30 per cent. Successive generations of workers improved on the educational attainments of their predecessors. Retiring workers were replaced by better-educated youngsters. This remorseless accumulation of human capital helped fuel the country’s postwar growth. According to at least one authoritative study, it was the principal driver.

    This trend came to a halt with workers now aged 55-59. Younger cohorts are no better educated than these soon-to-retire boomers. Broadly speaking, educational quality has topped out – and on at least one measure, it is actually deteriorating. In 2006, Americans aged 55-59 collectively possessed more masters degrees, professional degrees and doctorates than Americans aged 30-34. This impending loss of educational capital is entirely outside the country’s experience.
    Yet one key indicator suggests real cause for concern: the declining high school graduation rate, which affects the supply of those seeking to go to college. This too has been a bitterly contested statistic in the US. The country’s highly decentralised education system causes a proliferation of conflicting data sources and definitions. But a recent careful study by Nobel laureate James Heckman and Paul LaFontaine found that the high school graduation rate “has been falling for 40 years” and that this “explains part of the recent slowdown in college attendance”.
    Ken,

    Best,

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

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    In Rupert Murdoch's world of media, most of it is entertainment designed to attract viewers and advertising revenue. That's what drives it.

    Unfortunately very few people in America value truth and learning about difficult and hard to comprehend topics. True, there still are old fashioned investigative reporters, that produce good work but there seems to be little interest from the general public in their work. What they want, and get, in the way of "news" is pre-processed sixty second sound bites. That's why Fox News has an audience.

    There is anecdotal evidence for the dumbing down of Americans as well, but whether this is a result of rotten media or rotten education is unclear. The result is the same, Britney commands more attention then the design of a global greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.

    As for the French satire, as satire goes, it's funny. The reality though is that the situation of the French and Hitler's evil were written large enough to make it perfectly obvious to anyone alive at the time that there was going to be collateral damage.

    When someone does write the history of the American media during the Iraq war, it's going to be a tale of complicity in carefully spreading the Bush Administrations orchestrated litany of lies regarding weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the war in the first place. Mere gullibility doesn't explain it.

    I have about forty web pages that I browse for news, and I normally check the history of the reporters themselves if a particularly sensational report appears. The last one I checked was Daniel Foggo, whose piece today about Iran purchasing African monkeys is now being morphed into an Iranian bio - weapons campaign. For the record, Foggo appears to be a trustworthy source and I think one can safely assume that Iran purchases monkeys. All else is speculation.

  9. #29
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Who is being censored and by whom?
    There are a variety of ways to create censorship and thereby create an information conduit more conducive to the vagaries of conflict. The embed and pool concepts "allowed" by the military are a form of censorship. Tight control on the activities of reporters and thereby creating bias from refusing to allow flag dropped coffins shown, or embargoing stories because they are embarassing, up to and including charging journalists as spies all causes issues. But, don't take my word for it.

    Media Under Fire: Reporting Conflict in Iraq Australian Government Document

    This is likely the best document covering the ground of censorship, media involvement, and honest appraisal of the US Government tactics to make the war more palatable to the American public.

    controlling the media in iraq Contexts Magazine (Sociology)

    This article looks at the social aspects of the journalists and war in an in depth view that though I feel biased is fairly tactful in the treatment.

    The issue is large, it is difficult, it is not a pretty, nor is it easy to understand. A simple epithet or slogan will not cover it, nor make it easier to understand. I find that to many people are more interested in finding evidence to support their position right or wrong than trying to discover the depth of the issue and the breadth of a solution. Media relations, and "handling" by commanders in a war zone, cuts a broad swath across the trust and relationship of the people and the military.

    There is a broad anti-media sentiment in the members of the military. From the Pentagon Papers, to the Vietnam War, back to the befuddled Air Force and their Boeing contract the relationship between military service and media reporting has not been nice. It would be easy for me personally to say, "Screw the media, hang em all, let god sort em' out". You deserve better than a weak kneed echo chamber of popular shenanigans.

    The military-civil discourse and media abandonment enjoyed in the early stages of the Iraq war has begun to erode in the waning of support for the commander in chief, the congress, and the established organizations and departments. If you look at the dates of the articles posted the bias from the Australian article to the sociology article is not in the authors perceptions but the dilation of time. The one is from five years ago and the other this spring.

    Censorship is recognized not only the blocking of a story but in the acquisition of information to fully inform a story. Sunshine laws, FOIA and so many other access methods/laws are there to insure that the public is informed rather than blockaded. The military has used the blockade/embargo method in Iraq to great utility. It will breakdown if popular pressure from media outlets leads to "adventure" journalism and the reporting styles, as inelegant as they were, found in Vietnam.
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
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  10. #30
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post

    Unfortunately very few people in America value truth and learning about difficult and hard to comprehend topics.
    Nationmaster provides an interesting compilation of education metrics to evaluate your statement with.

    Sapere Aude

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    The embed and pool concepts "allowed" by the military are a form of censorship. Tight control on the activities of reporters and thereby creating bias from refusing to allow flag dropped coffins shown, or embargoing stories because they are embarassing, up to and including charging journalists as spies all causes issues.
    I think we should remember that the "tight control" is a condition of special access. If I go on a tour of the White House and certain rooms are off limits, then I don't claim that the secret service is restricting my freedom of movement. And if they say no cameras are allowed, then I don't get huffy about not being able to post photos on my blog and claim that my first amendment rights are being violated.

    But even if the instances mentioned are censorship, I think that begs the question of whether all censorship is bad. The article that you linked spends a fair amount of time discussing the embeds in the early stages of OIF. I think the embedding rules were due to OPSEC concerns on one hand and a desire to increase exposure of our troops to the media on the other. Limit information that could imperil our operations and increase access of our Soldiers to the media. I don't think that is bad. I don't even think that it is censorship.

    Regarding flag-draped coffins, this also seems like a fairly reasonable limit on media activity while they are hanging around with us. Had I been killed in Iraq, I wouldn't have wanted my flag-draped coffin on the front page of any newspaper, helping some media outlet to sell its rag. Is that censorship, if we have given them access to the cargo aircraft and simply put a condition on that access? I don't think so. But, even if it is censorship, it seems reasonable.

    Also, my understanding of the embed procedures is that reporters could have run off into the desert with no protection from the US military when the war kicked off. But we were willing to accomodate them if they played by certain ground rules. I don't think that is censorship. Once we got to Baghdad, I came across plenty of reporters who were out on their own, not embedded. I suspect that is less common today because they prefer the protection of US troops. I don't think that is censorship either.

    Now if a reporter is wandering alone around in Baghdad, gets some footage of US troops doing something wrong, tries to email it back to his news bureau, and our counterintelligence folks intercept the email and delete it - that would be censorship and not the type that I would approve of. Maybe it happens - I don't know. But the flag-draped coffins and embed rules are a far cry from censorship - or even from concern - in my opinion.

  12. #32
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Wow! It's just lampoonery.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGp0hCxSg98
    "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?"


  13. #33
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Multi-response...

    Selil said:
    "...The media and the issues with society are no less complex than civil military issues. The censorship rampant in the reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan with the associated cacophony of complaints is a warning of peril. Whereas democracy and capitalism have nothing to do with each other a free press is a corner stone to democracy.
    True but the responsiblity for much of that does nor reside solely with the government or the armed forces. Your later post on the same topic is also good but as you say it is a quite complex issue and it is emphatically not all one-sided.

    Many in the media have an attitude problem; many in the armed forces have an attitude problem -- result: Major friction. I don't disagree with what you say but my perception is that the armed forces are more willing to bend then is the media.

    I'll admit to some bias, I got misquoted in Korea, the Dominican Republic and in Viet Nam, all of little importance but a misquote is a misquote. I also had two major conflicts with a newspaper and a TV guy in Viet Nam. My son had reporters about on occasion in both Afghanistan and Iraq -- but only occasionally; they come, stay a few days and leave. His perception is that the attitude problem I cited is pretty severe; as he says distrust by the media is one thing -- acute dislike is another. That kind of attitude and a tendency to be condescending to the troops leads to thing like this (LINK); note the signaling individual is not a senior military type...

    Far more to it than attempts to censor and skew the news on the part of the Armed Forces. I agree with your concern for a constructive and vigilant free press -- we don't have that. I wish we did and I'm quite sure the reason that we do not is not all the fault of any government or anyone's armed forces...

    Steve posted a link from the FT. Thanks. Reinforces the trend I've noted in the last few years exemplified by the climbing rate of female advanced degrees and the declining rate of makes with them -- and baccalaureate degrees as well. Does not bode well.

    Schmedlap disagrees that restricting picture of returning flag draped coffins is censorship. I do also. Not to get a semantic argument going but whether it's censorship or not, it's an okay policy. YMMV. With a kid who's had three tours and will soon get another, I agree with the policy. I'll also note that if he got zapped, the local media would cover it as they have hundreds of others (you can also check You Tube). Any body wants to see flag draped coffins, there are plenty of them out there -- so to me it's not an issue of censorship, it's an issue of imposed good taste on a 'profession' (and I use the word loosely) that proves on a daily basis they have no taste. Nor very much competence.

  14. #34
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    Seems to me that just as the Education community is wrong to insist on Ed. degrees for K-12 (sorry, Sam ) the jorno commune is wrong to insist on journalism degrees for their practitioners.
    I've never worked in broadcast, so I can't speak to their requirements. But I've worked in print for more than 20 years - everything from small-town dailies to a major newspaper to national magazines - and I can recall only one person I worked with who had a journalism degree. He went back to school after working for a few years and got a master's in journalism aftrer getting his bachelor's in, IIRC, political science.

    By far, the top three majors among people I've worked with - or at least the ones I've known well enough to talk to about these matters, are history, English and political science. But I've known people with degrees in economics, psychology and business administration.

    I went to a college with one of the top journalism programs in the U.S., but even on the student newspaper, I can recall only a couple of journalism majors. Most of the J-school students I knew were either in broadcast or were looking at careers photography, design, layout or PR.

  15. #35
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Believe it or not, that's reassuring.

    I have two nephews and know the son of a friend with journalism degrees; two of the three are working in print (the other is a salesman). All are fairly decent kids -- but their lack of knowledge of how their government works at all levels is scary. Regrettably, none of the three will ever win a prize for drive or a work ethic...

    I did base my broad stereotype on TV based on anecdotal evidence that many of the budding reporters tend to have a major in the field. However, I didn't clarify that. That and the propensity in that medium to stick a mike in the face of "Joe Smith - Witness" and ask inane questions gives me a probably jaundiced view.

    Given your experience, I do have a question. I can understand the TV folks concentration on the here and now and on so-called celebrities; the Entertainment industry likes the exposure. However, the broadsheets when I was younger seemed more serious, tended to put more depth in stories and articles and appeared less likely to push the latest fad or scandal. My impression is that has changed. You may or may not agree; if you do, I have no real idea why that would be so other than the TV folks are driving the news effort by accident or by design. any thoughts?

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    I had composed a much longer answer, but for some reason my attempt to post it failed, and I didn't think to save it.

    A shorter answer is that I think you are right.

    Newspapers today are in a fierce competition for eyeballs. We are competing with dozens of TV channels, including several news channels, the Internet, computer games, etc.

    Management isn't really sure how to deal with this. Many of them are dealing with it in ways I consider to be short-sighted. But they are under tremendous pressure from owners to maintain profit margins of 20, 25 or 30 percent.

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks, that was my perception. I'm afraid our

    national foible of concentration of effort on the upcoming quarter is not helpful in any field of endeavor (my weekly understatement...). we're ruining ourselves with that inability to look and think ahead.

    I've often wished that when the founding writers wrote, they'd have added in another adaptation from the Iroquois -- A requirement to consider the impact of actions for seven generations in the future.

    I spent my early years in Louisville and I can remember what a great paper the Courier Journal before the Binghams went off the rails (and Gannet got hold of it). I look at it today and just cringe. Lived in New York for a while in '54-55, that NYT and todays are very different. The dumbing down of America has long fingers...

    One of my Grandfathers was a small town weekly owner, publisher and editor for many years; he said back in the early 50s that TV would eventually destroy print journalism; he figured 100 years. May have been right -- until the Internet popped up.

  18. #38
    Groundskeeping Dept. SWCAdmin's Avatar
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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.
    That the role of the media and its interaction with both society and conflict is a) huge b) dramatically accelerated from a generation or two ago (just more? or fundamentally different?).

    Again, this specific satire just floated past me. Concur w/ Fuchs, the author needs to go back to satirical journalism school before landing the war desk at the Onion. I don't put it forward to advocate for or skewer whatever leaning anyone infers from it, but simply because it will cause so many to infer. Please continue to do so, fascinating observations, looking forward to yours, too, Gian.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    You know, there are some interesting assumptions operating here that haven't been pulled out and probably should be. First is the actual question of responsibilities - of the media, of the citizen, of the soldier. There appears to be an assumption that he citizen should "educate" themselves on current issues both via "formal" education and via the media. Second, that the role of the media is to act as a watchdog; uncovering what is going on that is (possibly) being hidden from the public. Third, that soldiers will, inevitably, practice some form of if not "censorship", then at least deception.

    What I find fascinating is that none of these role-responsibility assumptions, barring a limited form of the third one, is backed up by any social structural factors. Citizens are nor rewarded (or punished) for their knowledge; indeed, for the past 70 years or so, there has been a progressive structural emphasis to "domesticate" citizens in order to make them more "predictable" for advertising, either political of corporate. The media are economically punished for taking the time to do a really good, in-depth job of analyzing issues (that "quest for eyeballs" problem). At the same time, academics are also punished for doing the same if it steps outside of the broad boardaries of the politically acceptable (not, necessarily, the same thing as Politically Correct; see here for an example). Finally, soldiers are structurally required to limit information that, in many instances, goes well beyond the actual requirements of OPSEC (cf Lt. Gen. Caldwell's comments here).

    Part of the problem, I suspect, is the idealistic nature of a chunk of your (US) assumptions, especially those related to the idea of an invisible hand operating in the information/political economy. Personally, I think it is naive to assume that the media will not be co-opted by political and economic factions with specific agendas. Their entire livelihood is based on their ability to compete in the (supposedly) "free market" of information reporting. But where does the money come from?

    This is why I believe that the blogsphere, and sites like SWC, are so important. The structural impetus is not crudely economic in the "I do X, you pay me Y" sense of the term. It is a much better example of a "free market" of information than anything that shows up in the MSM.

    *****
    just got a link to this which I think makes part of my argument for me...

    L.A. Times to Cut 250 jobs, 150 in newsroom.
    Last edited by marct; 07-07-2008 at 03:04 PM. Reason: added link
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  20. #40
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Culture Clash

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    You know, there are some interesting assumptions operating here that haven't been pulled out and probably should be. First is the actual question of responsibilities - of the media, of the citizen, of the soldier. There appears to be an assumption that he citizen should "educate" themselves on current issues both via "formal" education and via the media. Second, that the role of the media is to act as a watchdog; uncovering what is going on that is (possibly) being hidden from the public. Third, that soldiers will, inevitably, practice some form of if not "censorship", then at least deception.

    What I find fascinating is that none of these role-responsibility assumptions, barring a limited form of the third one, is backed up by any social structural factors. Citizens are nor rewarded (or punished) for their knowledge; indeed, for the past 70 years or so, there has been a progressive structural emphasis to "domesticate" citizens in order to make them more "predictable" for advertising, either political of corporate. The media are economically punished for taking the time to do a really good, in-depth job of analyzing issues (that "quest for eyeballs" problem). At the same time, academics are also punished for doing the same if it steps outside of the broad boardaries of the politically acceptable (not, necessarily, the same thing as Politically Correct; see here for an example). Finally, soldiers are structurally required to limit information that, in many instances, goes well beyond the actual requirements of OPSEC (cf Lt. Gen. Caldwell's comments here).

    Part of the problem, I suspect, is the idealistic nature of a chunk of your (US) assumptions, especially those related to the idea of an invisible hand operating in the information/political economy. Personally, I think it is naive to assume that the media will not be co-opted by political and economic factions with specific agendas. Their entire livelihood is based on their ability to compete in the (supposedly) "free market" of information reporting. But where does the money come from?

    This is why I believe that the blogsphere, and sites like SWC, are so important. The structural impetus is not crudely economic in the "I do X, you pay me Y" sense of the term. It is a much better example of a "free market" of information than anything that shows up in the MSM.

    *****
    just got a link to this which I think makes part of my argument for me...

    L.A. Times to Cut 250 jobs, 150 in newsroom.
    Great points as usual, Marc. I would add a fourth consideration in media affairs. As a military guy for most of my life--but one assigned to work with non-military agencies--I have long watched our military culture and how it affects our views and how we describe those views, both orally and in writing. We as a military see what we report as correct and anything that differs from what we see as correct is by definition incorrect and possibly delberately so. "We don't like CNN so we change channels to Fox because we like them more,' is symptomatic of this tendency.

    Inside the military, I had a similar experience as an intelligence analyst and operator dealing with manuever commanders. Intelligence is always a business of pessimism; manuever looks for and expects the positive. The friction between the two is apparent to anyone who has ever sat through an ops intell update. When the shoving is over, the positive wins.

    Ergo most of what is going to come out as the facts in a military account of any event is going to tend toward the positive. That tendency also runs full tilt into the media's tendency to look for the bad news.

    We are not going to "fix" this. We can only expect it and mitigate its effects when necessary. See: CALL Newsletter 07-04 Media is the Battlefield

    Best

    Tom

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