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Old Dec 10th, 2002, 04:02 PM   #1
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I was reading the latest article over at Daring Fireball, which is called "Hackass". It is written about Leander Kahney, the guy who does most, if not all, of Wired's Apple coverage.

What it basically talks about (besides Mr. Kahney) is the state of journalism these days, and I was wondering what all of your thoughts are on the subject.

Not so much with Canadian newscasts, but American ones, I find that there is less and less substance in most stories, less effort is put into getting good information, and a lot of journalists are content to find one man or woman with an opinion and present him or her as an "Expert".

Here is the main passage that interested me in the topic:

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>From DaringFireball:

There is a disconcerting trend in the modern media which holds that all opinions are equally valid, and that it is not appropriate for ostensibly unbiased journalists to declare which opinions are right, and which are wrong. It is thanks to this trend that we have CNN presenting Jerry Falwell as an informed expert on global warming, a man who used this opportunity to declare that “global warming is a myth,” that “top scientists” do not believe in it, and at the conclusion, offered this advice: “I urge everyone to go out and buy an SUV today.”

Calling bullshit “bullshit” is not bias. It is journalism.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Have a look at the article, and post back with your thoughts/opinions.

--PB
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Old Dec 10th, 2002, 08:05 PM   #2
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Journalism isn't objective now, and never has been. I think it's our expectation of objectivity that is as much to blame for the "equal time" we see on public media as the media themselves.

When you have a story like Global Warming, where most of the people have made up their own minds on a position, it makes news in general appear more objective if they offer a contrary opinion.

Perhaps the dangerous part is that, armed with the "fairness" of CNN as clearly demonstrated, we actually believe that there could be open debate on any issue we choose.

The media choose what, how and from whom we get our news. There's no need to present two sides if you don't bother to present one. It's far easier to determine a media's bias by noticing what they don't publish. There's no lack of news stories out there; actually there are too many. Media have no choice but to choose one over many others. If all the US TV networks are owned by Entertainment conglomerates and Defence contractors, should I believe they are objective?

Generally we are bound by the prejudices of our own media; the same "facts" aren't even reported the same way here in Canada. Any ehMac reader who reads both French and English could attest to that.

There's not anything "wrong" about taking a positon and supporting it, even if you do own a TV station. It happens all the time. Every time StatsCan releases a document, I read different facts from the report in my local paper, the Globe & Mail and the National Post. They all publish those details that support their position on jobs, family, the economy, whatever, and often ignore the others that may weaken their stand. Read 'em all and you get the big picture.

Our only imperfect recourse is to try and get our news from a variety of sources. The centralization of media is a real concern, as it makes this much more difficult. It remains to be seen exactly how the Internet will affect our ability to inform ourselves; it's still evolving and could probably go either way.
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Old Dec 10th, 2002, 08:10 PM   #3
 
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Great thread PB. I would like to add some thoughts. The problem with journalism is truth and the control of it. There is so little truth in what is being reported in major storys. And when journalists get close to the truth, whether by accedent or not, they get shut down. The story that is. I have no url to add but if we remember the Anthrax situation after 911 some might remember how that story went away once it was reported the strain was traced back to the CIA. There is no freedoms anymore with journalism in the western hemisphere. Asking questions will soon be criminal. Just take a look at the new anti-terrorist laws the U.S. is keen to pass. It goes deeper, and I am not sure taking the time to go into it here really matters. All that matters is there are people like us who ask questions. We are a generation who will challenge the powers that be which is an absolute must!! It is key to the survival of our way of life. I would go deeper but hey, I'm not sure you've seen the revisions to the U.S. patriot act but this thread could end up as evidence.
Talk to you again some time and happy holidays to all in ehMac land!!!!
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Old Dec 10th, 2002, 09:01 PM   #4
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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>When you have a story like Global Warming, where most of the people have made up their own minds on a position, it makes news in general appear more objective if they offer a contrary opinion.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hello,

I don't think most people have made up their minds, but have had their minds made up by the media. This is partially what Jerry Falwell may have been getting at, although I think he's a bit of a nut.

Most people have their opinions developed by the media outlets that they trust and are comfortable with. Very few individuals do their own research into a topic to further develop a coherent and logial argument in favour (or against) a particular line of thinking.

James
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Old Dec 10th, 2002, 11:50 PM   #5
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There has always been a battle in journalism between the "reporting" function which is ideally neutral but in practice rarely so and the "editorial" function which interprets events.
I do like CBC for program like Pros and Kahn and some in the Star where dissenting views are aired.
I think we need both, it's when it slips into 1984 style subtle manipulation towards a hidden goal or mindset that a clear danger to society arises.

I think we all rankle at "editorial" when it takes the guise of reporting and at "reporting:" when it becomes selective to the point of swaying opinion.
Both subverted approaches make the consuming public wary and uncomfortable.
"A group homeless organized by the Coalition for Public Housing blocked the entrance to Queens Park today and the protest devovled into a violent confrontation with police sent to keep the traffic lanes open".......that's a report.

"A ragged and weapon toting gang of homeless ruffians organized by the.........."
You get the idea - editorial under the guise of reporting.
The importance of a free press to a democracy cannot be overstated - it is considered the Fourth Estate for good reason as it wields enormous power in the world ( Watergate a good example)
Keeping that freedom is difficult - the movie The Insider" laid that out clearly.
Strict division of advertising staff and reporting staff is enforced at large newspapers and magazines to keep bias low.

An interesting phenomena of the internet are the "epinion" sites which give everyone a voice and in which balanced useful articles are rewarded with votes of confidence by the readers.
This was part and parcel of the same "voice of the people" that kept the Russian coupe attempt out in world view and away from "spin". Multiple real time eyewitness accounts provided a better view than any "official source " could or would.




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Old Dec 11th, 2002, 01:08 AM   #6
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"The Media" is not a monolithic instrument of the state or capital. It is, howerver, usually a business. And as a business it needs to sell its product. And that product is whatever gets people to tune in.

There is, and can be no such thing as "unbiased" reporting. A reporter knows what his editor will/will not accept, what his/her publisher will/will not tolerate. Hence, we have a "liberal" Toronto Star, and a "conservative" Globe and Mail.

Television reporting requires more flash and less substance. The MTV generation wants cool graphics, but nothing difficult to think about.

That being said, one can be an "educated consumer" of the media. And it usually starts by reading or watching more than one outlet. And by realizing that what you are consuming is a corporate product, not a heck of a lot different than MacDonalds.
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Old Dec 11th, 2002, 02:32 AM   #7
 
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Again...I am amazed and impressed by Britnell's reply to this thread. The media is, indeed, a business. It provides interesting and(hopefully) informative news articles in order to get the viewer to stay tuned long enough to watch the commercials (which pay for it all, after all).


Chealion as well...my GOD! Where the heck did you come from??!!? You are far more perceptive than I was at your age. In fact, you are far more perceptive than most of my friends are....at TWICE your age. You are one to watch...for SURE! Outstanding!

As for the rest of the thread, I am with Timmer on this....the media is not one monolithic organ that is controlled by the Government. At least not in this country. Cuba, North Korea and the Old Soviet Union are another thing altogether. In those countries the news is what the high command decides it is.

Here is an example, from my own experience:
While I was in Cuba, the news began reporting the Elian event as a boy who was being held against his will, behind bars, in the USA. During this same period, the hotels stopped the feed from CNN in the hotel rooms. It was replaced by six-hour speeches by Fidel about how poor people didn't exist in Cuba. Anyone who has ever been there knows that EVERYONE in Cuba is poor. So do the Cubans. Virtually everyone who followed this also knows that young Elian was NOT held prisoner in the USA.

But Fidel and his government certainly portrayed him as being a prisoner of the USA.

One more thing here....my girlfriend, who is a Doctor of Medicine in Cuba...was not aware of the AIDS crisis in Africa. She had no knowledge of it at all!

She challenged me when I told her about it. When I showed her a Time magazine article that was discussing the AIDS problem in Africa she became very defensive. She pointed out that several of her Doctor friends had gone to Africa, and NONE of them had commented on this problem. Therefore, it must be American propaganda. Cuba provides hundreds of Doctors to outside countries, including South Africa, in return for real dollars. And NONE of them knew about this rampant disease.

That's what happens when the Government controls all of the media in a country.

This is one more reason that I think that people should get their news from a LOT of different sources!

I heartily agree with everyone here who says "Check out a LOT of other News sorces!" before you make a decision.

It is very unlikely that news from several different countries are controlled from a single source. If they are all in agreement...especially after a certain amount of time has passed...then it's probably real. If not, then ask a LOT of questions. It never hurts to question everything, anyway.

Just my thoughts on this.
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Old Dec 11th, 2002, 03:21 AM   #8
 
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Britnell, I am unsure I agree with everything you state.

"The Media" is not a monolithic instrument of the state or capital. It is, howerver, usually a business. And as a business it needs to sell its product. And that product is whatever gets people to tune in."

Monolithic, meaning huge instrument of the state or capital, I think it is. Yes you are absolutely right, it's a business as well. We can look at Ted Turner as an excellent example. Keeping in mind what I am saying, it is a tool or as you commented, an instrument. As I stated above, CNN is reporting things about the war overseas that are being reported in order to sway public opinion on the situation. Is that not enough to see it is in fact an instrument of the state? Here's something else to think about. One of the first targets of attack in Afghanistan were their media towers. Rendering anyone in the country unable to communicate anything media wise. Another example, Egyptian news, I have watched a news cast with english sub titles and what is actually said is completely false when compared to the sub titles. (I did not know what was being said, I was with a friend who grew up there and thus a translator.) Someone made that dicision to alter the info. Who? If not high ranking gov officials then who? Maybe I am wrong, perhaps it is the media making these choices but if that is so, I would be lead to think the decision to alter anything from the truth is a direct example of careerism and nothing more. And if that is the case, someone would only act in this regard from pressures to do so from above. Basically, print the truth and your boss receives pressure from someone in office to move you or lose you.

Awesome thread. Good on ya Posterboy!

Talk to you again.
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Old Dec 11th, 2002, 03:22 AM   #9
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Wow, this is getting inteesting guys! (like I expect anything else..!)

One thing that just sprung to mind is in with the editorials and actual news in the world, where are the spin doctors?

has anyone here seen the film "Wag The Dog"? This movie is all about the government using a spin doctor to use the media to divert attention from a rewing contriversy in the white house. They go so far as to create a fake war and a fake war hero to go along with it to take the peoples focus off a certain incident with the president and a visitor to the white house (set in the Clinton Administration, or around that time anyway).

So I guess what I am asking is, if even 1/4th of what they did in the movie is possible, how do we know what is even real or not?

--PB
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Old Dec 11th, 2002, 03:29 AM   #10
 
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'So I guess what I am asking is, if even 1/4th of what they did in the movie is possible, how do we know what is even real or not?"

Great question PB, your answer is in Macnuts post, or some of it.

"I heartily agree with everyone here who says "Check out a LOT of other News sorces!" before you make a decision."

Keep looking, I don't think all your answers are achievable but it won't take long to see there is certainly enough to start questioning.
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