Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Myth of Media Objectivity

(Check out Chris Muir's Day by Day)

Before this present war on western societies by radical Islam ends, I'm hoping that consumers will punish big media for it's plainly biased coverage against the war on terror. Books have been written and movies have been made about how media exposure can transform into media participation, extend the duration of a crisis, and exacerbate it's deleterious effects on the victims and society. Every day sees headlines that fit this description.

example: December 20th, 2004,
AP story and photos, found in a Sun Publications newspaper Headline: 60 DIE IN IRAQ ATTACKS, (New horrors show anti-American groups can strike at will.)

AP claims they're just doing their jobs. Look at the subtitle, "...Anti-American groups can strike at will." This is news? Terrorists have ALWAYS been able to choose the place and timing of their acts of violence. Duh. Aside from providing a gratifying release to the Bush-hating news editor who wrote it, this headline serves two main purposes: to provide encouragement to Anti-American individuals, and shape public opinion by implying that the war on terror is failing.

The 'New Horrors...' headline is both a mini-commercial and act of misdirection. Encapsulating the news story as we scan the paper, it directs our attention and even surreptitiously tries to shape our attitudes. That act itself was a News Story during the recent American election campaign. Voices from both left and right willy nilly accused the media of unfairly slanting their programming in favor of their opponents.

Unfairly? Not necessarily, so long as all participants in the battle declared their allegiance openly. Commentators and columnists like Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Al Franken and Lars Larson make their ideological stance clear. What's offensive and unfair is deliberate acts of misrepresentation by news organizations that claimed to be objective. There's the obvious culprits, Al Jazira in Middle east, NPR, CBS, and Fox in America, and the CBC in Canada- all proclaimed their institutional impartiality and sole possession of a patent on the truth. Liars, every last one.

It irkes me.

I'll defend the freedom of the press. It's a necessary part of a functional democracy.
But I think it's human nature to conciously and unconciously to promote your point of view -just look at the blog phenomenon. I have sat at the big desk, deciding not only which stories go into a newscast, but also HOW THEY TELL THEIR STORY. I've heard the newsdirector or the editor say it: "I don't like this version of the story, use the other." or "re-write this piece and emphasize (a certain point) more?" While It's sophomoric to believe in complete objectivity from that same press, any nation's citizens have a right to expect their news media not to be working against society's best interests - especially during a war in which the future existence of that very society is at stake.

The clueless Ted Baxter stereotype is an urban myth. The people slanting the news know damn well what they're doing.

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