New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Friday, August 11, 2006

Media Morass

How do you get your news and what do you trust? The latest snafu for the news media was doctored photos from Lebanon where the photos were so poorly photo-shopped that even an amateur could see the repeated images. It is amazing that a photo journalist, trying to show the world a war in Lebanon, would believe distorting the pictures to dramatize them was acceptable. Have we entered a time where truth has no meaning? Clearly that person had lost touch with the purpose of his job. For the rest of us, if we can't trust a photograph... scratch that question. Clearly we can't. And actually never have been able to as darkroom techniques have always allowed for fudging with this or that. Only now 'anybody' can do it.

So we have photos we can't believe. Then there are the words to describe actual events. Since the Bush administration was discovered to be paying journalists and commentators to get the viewpoint out that suited them best, since they send out fact sheets written up as stories for the newspapers to use directly, what is news and what is propaganda? How do you personally decide?

It's not like one news network or another is going to have the pure facts. They all have some kind of agenda. Some say that the entire media is liberal or was before Fox came along with its right wing slant. Since the media is generally owned by those on the right and the journalists typically lean to the left, where does that leave the viewer? In a mud-dle in the middle? Actually it probably seems to be biased to both sides at this point. They showed some stories on the current war in Lebanon and Israel to Arabs and Israelis. Both sides felt it was biased-- against their side.

Is it even possible to have stories that are pure facts without an agenda being pushed? I have heard that if we were to watch CNN in Europe, the feed would be totally different than here which is why they have seen the situation so differently. Each is aimed at their target audience-- telling them what they want to hear. Is that what news is-- entertain us and make us comfortable?

Some believe the best idea now is read blogs from war torn areas like Iraq, Lebanon and Israel and there is some merit in that. At least then the people with an agenda are upfront about it. There is no pretense that it's unbiased because these are people living on the frontlines of a human disaster and writing about what they see and feel. If they are prejudiced toward what allows them to survive or their own country to continue to exist-- we can understand.

It's been a very confusing, disillusioning time which is the main reason I haven't written about the situation between Israel, Lebanon and the Hezbollah. I read about it. I feel bad for it. One time I almost put something up until a good friend and I hashed it out up one side and down the other. When we had gotten through, I thought I don't really know what is true, and I don't want to write about it. I just want it to go away. But it won't.

None of this time of terrorism and wars is going away soon-- unless we blow each other up. We have entered a very ugly time and it is impacting the entire world. It's not (in my opinion) the fault of Israel for existing or even the US for attacking Iraq. Bin Laden began his vendetta against the West before we went into Iraq. Israel only provides an enemy for them to use to concentrate their power and gain followers.

Yes, the United States has made mistakes, and only history will determine the significance of those, but whatever brought us to here, I think we could all agree, we are in a mess, and part of that mess is being unable to trust the government or news to tell us the true situation.

If we can't know what is going on, how can we wisely vote, send money, or even pray? Possibly that suits some just fine to keep citizens in the dark. Some criticize the media if they give bad news. Or they want more coverage of this or less of that. Others want to only hear things that reaffirm their bias. But if the news media has any purpose at all, it should be to tell us what is happening period-- not what it means. Analysis should be labeled analysis. We should demand we get basic, honest coverage of events-- no hype. Is that asking too much? Apparently it is.

6 comments:

Dick said...

I remember a story I read years ago where there were daily national polls and these decided the direction the government went. It seemed preposterous then to me but I think we are nearly there.

But there now is a twist the author hadn't thought of. The poll results today seem to be used not necessarily to guide policy but to guide how we, the public, are told what the "facts" are.

As to the world wide "wars," they remind me a lot of the IRA "problem" in Ireland. I could never understand why there was so much loss of life over what seemed to be such minor differences. I guess if things fester for centuries, and then you have zealots stiring up the feelings of the public, and if the public feels they have nothing to loose anyway, what you get is what we are getting.

Mary Lou said...

I try to make my own decisions based on listening to several sources. ANd I am smart enough to realize that no news media is unbiased! WHen we first went into Irag, I had just retired and started blogging. I found a website written by a young man in Iraq, and I assumed he had the truth. Some of it I did not agree with and some of it enlightened me. So today, as disillusioned as I am with our current administration, I cant see any other person being able to get us out of this mess without losing our integrity. (ok ok I KNOW you all think we lost it years ago,) We just all need to get involved and read and listen and use our heads the way they were meant to be used! Make your own decision!

Sandy said...

The media has been doing this to us for years. I recall more than one occasion where I was actually at an "event" or meeting that the press was covering as well. One of them, quite a number of years ago was to with logging. There were the people involved with that industry at the meeting and there were memebers of greenpeace also in attendance. Given the location and the fact that this meeeting was taking place in a logging community, the people who spoke from the logging industry received applause when they were done talking and members of greenpeace did not, to the contrary they were "booed". BUT on the evening news it was a different picture being painted, Greenpeace was getting the applause. After calling the television station and enquiring as to why they would do that, I was told, it is creative journalism. It is a lie. Plain and simple. That was the 2nd time I'd seen something along those lines happen with the press. So, can we depend on our media?? On some issues I believe we can, but for the most part we hear a version that they or someone in politics would like us to hear depending on the subject. Great post Rain!!

robin andrea said...

It is a serious and grave threat to democracy to not have a free and vital press. We should all be alarmed that we are being manipulated rather than informed. I don't even know where to turn fore news anymore. Lately, the only TV we watch are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. We do read lefty blogs, and listen to AirAmerica in the mornings. We try to stay informed, but I don't even know what that means anymore.

Augustine said...

Rain, the internet allows us to get news reports from all over the world and from sources that are less slanted than the mainstream American media at this time. Some people won't agree, but the BBC World Service broadcasts have been a reliable source of news for a long time, and also if you go to the www.bbc.co.uk/news. There's a new website I've just heard of and have added to my blogroll called "Watching America" which is non-partisan and simply translates what is being said in the media all over the world about American foreign policy.

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)