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Why we blog

by Jerome a Paris Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 07:02:56 AM EST

Redstar's take on "the average American journalist's cluelessness about what they are writing about, their generally carefree attitude towards this cluelessness, and why this is the case" was a must read, and thus I am copying it in full below the fold.


Why is the American journalist typically clueless about what they are writing about? This is for a number of reasons which feed each other.

First, journalism training is, generally speaking, pretty specialized, a branch of speech and communications. Like accountants, one is not educated in a subject, one is trained in a craft. Knowledge of the subject one is going to write about is a good asset to have, but certainly not required. The proof? This article migeru is citing, where not only the journalist, but her editor(s), are clearly clueless about major parts of the story she's writing about in the (so-called) paper of American record.

Second, the American educational system does little to nothing to teach Americans about the rest of the world (the secondary schools being egregiously bad on this score), and the US is a very insular place to begin with. I'd reckon that if maybe a little more than half of American students with a college diploma can locate Belgium on a map (and forget about those with only high school diplomas), maybe one in five hundred can identify the two main linguistic communities there much less give you a bit of color and background as to the history and culture of these. They go to cover a land they know little to nothing about, and unsurprisingly they become unwitting vessels for whatever ignorant crap happens to be in the air the time deadline hits. I especially loved this one's treatment of vlaams belang in this regard.

Third, and this is problably the most damning, you have to be the child of wealthy parents to become a journalist in the US these days. How's this? First, j-school is not cheap by any means. Second, you don't make money to help pay for j-school or attendant expenses on summer holiday. No, if you want to work for the NY Times one day, that resume better be full of some good internships, starting now. And those internships, in the US they're mostly non-paid. So daddy and mommy are going to have to foot the bill for more than just school. And, once you're done with j-school? Another internship, this time perhaps paid (though quite poorly). Journalism is not a well paid profession when one is getting one's start. Want to get the Time's attention and catch on as a cub reporter? Probably best to work in New York. Not a cheap place to live, New York. So, daddy and mommy are going to have to foot some more bills. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what sorts of parents can afford to give their erstwhile budding reporter this kind of shot at big time journalism.

So you have three factors contributing to this - no knowledge requirement to be a serious journalist, great insularity of most Americans, and journalism opportunities limited to the children of the upper middle- and upper-classes (with the attendant ideological biases). There is no meritocracy, and ignorance is not an elimating factor; unsurprisingly, American journalism is pretty bad and getting worse.

You ask me for English-language newspapers worth reading? Aside from the Independent, I can't really think of any. As a general rule, if it's in English and in a major media outlet, it's far more likely than not to be either false, biased or (more likely) both. Go back and read the English-language coverage of the run-up to Iraq war in everything from the Washington Times to the Guardian to see what I'm getting at. Does this mean everything in the Times or the Post is for shit? Heaven's no. But I don't think either is worthy of support, and I prefer to let the blogs filter out the shit for me - if something at either is worth reading, I'll hear about it from someone I trust. I certainly don't trust the name of either anymore, nor am I alone in this distrust, which explains the rise of blogs in the first place. If anything, some of the smaller outlets (likme McClatchy) are "getting it" with far more regularity than the self-satisfied gasbags at the Times or the Post.

As for the ideological references you make to American papers, I'd say your estimations are slightly off kilter. The Wash Times is definitely biased hard, hard right, but the post is biased to the right as well, albeit a fair amount less. The New York Times is generally center to center-right, the Chicago papers definitely conservative, and so forth.

Within these papers (and in most others in the US), there are definitely places which are systematically biased to the right, in particular the business and finance sections and the sports pages, the combination of the two making up more than half your average American paper. On the other hand, there are no systematically left voices in any section of any paper, nor is any mainstream paper generally left.

And this is unsurprising, given who owns the papers, and how journalists are made.

Display:
And it's a similar story with the Washington political class.

You won't find many poor kids working as staffers or interns.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:00:31 AM EST
And then there's the Foreign Correspondent's Disease, which is contracted when the foreign correspondent goes and hangs out with the local journalists and political staffers and drinks their kool-aid.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:31:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds about right to me, certainly with regard to the WaPo and the NYT, and the choice of the Independent.

But, with the exception of the insularity (also shared to some extent by the UK), I see French journalism moving gradually in the same direction. I'm thinking of national public radio voices, for instance: over the last decade or so, the new young voices reading the news have been (and are) almost indistinguishable in tone and pronunciation, a standard and schooled diction that reminds one of pampered upper-class girls' Monmon (for Maman) accents (Fronce for the name of the country!). A uniform bunch of kids from well-heeled families that have gone through journalism school and learned "skills" but not curiosity, and will read anything they are given to read without a second's hesitation. Examples every day.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:14:59 AM EST
that the proportion of lower class students in the Grandes Ecoles has gone down from 29% 20 years ago (i.e. in the late 80s, when I went through the process) to a single digit percentage I cannot remember.

I used to argue that it was still working as a 'social elevator' for many - but it seems that my generation was the last one for which it was true in any meaningful way.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:30:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the French Counter-Revolution succeeded 200 years later.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:32:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really, they are mostly Teachers'children. Teachers managed to use the system at their full advantage.
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's depressing, I'm wondering where that statistics for this came from. This is an argument I was just having with my wife, I had remembered a statistic of Mines, Centrale and Ponts et Chaussées being up near half, but never saw a statistic to this effect.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree heartily with some of the analysis redstar writes up (indeed, I'm trying to formulate the way of telling an anecdote illustrating a recent experience of mine without giving away too many identities), but some of it didn't ring quite true and you've put your finger on it.

This is not just an English language press issue. Coverage in the French and German press of Indian and Chinese issues that I've had some familiarity with over the last 20 years or so has often been very disappointing. Indeed, when I lived in the US, the French language reporting of US events that I was present at taking pictures wasn't very grounded or accurate either.

Migeru quite liked my formulation, so I'll repeat it again, one of the biggest issues is "Our Foreign Correspondent syndrome."

  1. Within the "homeland" there are the usual ownership/structural problems inside the media, different countries are at different points in the evolution of the problem. Fore example, France has taken a massive leap forward towards the black hole in domestic reporting with the ownership consolidation and the coagulation of owners around Sarkozy. Murdoch pulled the UK press scene along that route many years ago now.

  2. On "foreign matters" the average reporter from any language which is not close to native will apply the following filters:

a) What does my good friend from the local paper of record say? (so, the reporter from El Pais parrots the NYT on US issues and the reporter from The London Times will go ask her friend at Le Monde on Paris issues.)
Note: this happens more and more as budgets are constrained. Original reporting requires work, but also resources and if the management back home are harassing you about expenses you won't spend 4 days travelling around to do your own reporting, unless it's a scoop. Not just easier, but far cheaper to switch on the TV and call some of your friends.

b) How does this fit into the general prejudices of my readers? (e.g. French reporters in the US will analyse every gun crime by reference to American barbarity, wild-west individualism, insert cliche here.)

c) How does this fit into the prejudices of my boss? (e.g. any London Times reporter has to take the words from their friend at Le Monde and add several layers of neo-liberal spin and some anti-Europe, anti-EU message. That's what working for Murdoch means.)

It's worth noting that both (b) and (c) can be done internally by the reporter, but also by the editors back at the copy desk in the home country.

Not every foreign correspondent behaves this way, but by far the majority do.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:36:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree 100%.

I will point out though that the average level of general culture is not the same in the US as it is in the parts of Europe I know well (admittedly I know little to nothing of the UK), and this contributes to an accentuation of the process you are describing when talking about a journalist from America, which perpetuates the insularity like an eternal return loop.

The making of Thomas Friedman as a national authority on foreign affairs really demostrates this lack of general culture - it reaches high up the socio-economic scale, and is certainly not limited to the Bidochon segments of the population. It permeates the middle-brow and reaches into the high-brow as well. Only the caliber of the words used by the journalist or the commentator actually changes.

There is really no way I could even conceive of such a mediocre man rising to national prominence, on the basis of such a flimsy and limited understanding of the rest of the world, elsewhere in the so-called West.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:29:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder to what extent the political class drives voices one hears on the radio. It's been now twelve years and counting, so it stands to reason that the direction would start having its effect sooner or later. In a way this isn't anything new, and in time people will grow a healthy distrust of state (or semi-state) media sources as in the day when RTL grew so large as an outlet independent of French state media.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first problem - the professionalisation of journalists and the generation of a breed of professionals who know how to write but not what to write is a problem that affects other developed countries. Journalism (under "Information Sciences") is an undergraduate degree in Spain. Though, granted, a secondary education in Spain is better rounded than in the US, this doesn't mean people graduating with a 5-year degree in "Information Sciences" know a whole lot about anything other than media. Then there are things like El Pais' "Master's in Journalism".

Maybe journalism should be taught at the postgraduate level (or, in Spain, as a "2nd cycle" degree, that is after 3 years in another subject - for instance, one could do 3 years of physics and then transfer to a 2nd cycle in Jounalism to become a Science writer).

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:17:58 AM EST
Another problem is that there's a very narrow degree range that is the root of journalists. You'll find very few with science or engineering degrees. This can limit them in that they frequently don't even begin to know what questions to ask when outside their own sphere of knowledge.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:57:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is the title I would have chosen to make this a diary.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:46:02 AM EST
For reference, the initial title was "Why is the American journalist typically clueless"

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:29:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that the idea that one requires a tertiary education to be a journalist is absolutely nuts. When I say this I do not at all mean to belittle the profession (well, I mean when compared with its best exemplars, not the poodles that pass for journalists nowadays) ... that is, the most important qualification for a journalist, apart from being able to write well, is uncommoun nous and street sense. A naive person will not a journalist make.

It goes without saying that such things cannot be taught in schools. Well, not formally.

One disturbing trend in modern life is the now-complete insistence on tertiary schooling for jobs that do not require it. In fact, nowadays a tertiary eduction is in many cases simply evidence that the recipient was prepared to sit still and be bored to death for three or four of what should have been the most turbulent years of their life, and to devote an uncommon amount of time to parroting what has already been said by other people ('citing references').

In the past, it was possible (say) to become literary editor for a prominent newspaper based solely on the fact that you were a decent writer, and when you had never been near a university in your life. (I do actually have a specific example in mind, but I am not going to give it.) I am certain such a thing would not happen now.

Of course, certain things do require an extensive tertiary education, but I suspect journalism is not one of them. As Veblen once famously (and, in my view correctly) said of law 'A school of law is no more a part of a university that a school of dancing.'

by wing26 on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:46:11 AM EST
Oh God ... '... than a school of dancing' of course.

I don't actually believe in correcting minor typos, as I credit any reader with intelligence and (more importantly) forgiveness, but I add this for form's sake.

by wing26 on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best Journalist I know

a) didn't go to university
b) is a former heroin addict
c) started out as a freelance photographer

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:59:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you point to some of her or his articles?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 02:53:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the factoid about needing to come from wealthy families to become a journalist is accurate. One can major in journalism at many colleges as part of a regular four year degree.

It is also possible to get an advanced degree in journalism, but I don't think this is as important as it is in many technical professions.

The problem with journalism these days is two-fold. First, those who want to work in the tradition of old-time muckrakers aren't going to find any jobs. The only places doing this type of reporting are the small independent opinion journals like "The Nation". They hardly pay a living wage and their staffs are tiny. This discourages this type of person from entering the field in the first place.

Which leads to the second point: What we get instead are those who aspire to work in broadcast "journalism". Here the requirements are a pretty face and a good speaking voice. As the continual stream of sitcoms on American TV illustrates this is a well-known phenomena. The usual set up is that the newscaster is an air head who has to be pampered and supported by the background staff. I think Katie Couric proves the truth of this parody.

In addition all major media outlets are now owned by large industrial firms and the last thing they want is for muckraking journalists to uncover stories which reveal the corruption underneath the veneer of successful capitalism.

There was a period in US history where many major newspapers were owned by independent families with a sense of duty or moral outrage. They were not beholding to anyone if they took a strong stand against corruption or greed. The only paper which is still in this position is the NY Times, and major Wall Street interests are pushing to have the controlling family give up their special voting class of shares. The recent takeover of the Wall Street Journal by Murdoch shows that controlling families no longer care about the news business - just the money.

As far as I can tell the only major news outlet that still does a good job of international reporting is the BBC. Even here political pressure sometimes compromises their ability to do what they wish.

Author Naomi Wolf has just released a book outlining the ten steps needed to replace a democracy with a dictatorship. Here's the list:


   1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
   2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
   3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
   4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
   5. Harass citizens' groups.
   6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
   7. Target key individuals.
   8. Control the press.
   9. Declare all dissent to be treason.
  10. Suspend the rule of law.

Notice number 8 is to control the press. The correspondence between her list and what has been happening in the US is freightening.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:58:11 AM EST
rdf:
The problem with journalism these days is two-fold. First, those who want to work in the tradition of old-time muckrakers aren't going to find any jobs. The only places doing this type of reporting are the small independent opinion journals like "The Nation". They hardly pay a living wage and their staffs are tiny. This discourages this type of person from entering the field in the first place.
Which means if you want to be an investigative journalist you have to be financially independent. Like, for instance, George Monbiot, who came from a well-off family.

Monbiot.com » Choose Life

The first advice I would offer is this: be wary of following the careers advice your college gives you. In journalism school, for example, students are routinely instructed that, though they may wish to write about development issues in Latin America, in order to achieve the necessary qualifications and experience they must first spend at least three years working for a local newspaper, before seeking work for a national newspaper, before attempting to find a niche which brings them somewhere near the field they want to enter. You are told to travel, in other words, in precisely the opposite direction to the one you want to take. You want to go to Latin America? Then first you must go to Nuneaton. You want to write about the Zapatistas? Then first you must learn how to turn corporate press releases into "news". You want to be free? Then first you must learn to be captive.

...

So my second piece of career advice echoes the political advice offered by Benjamin Franklin: whenever you are faced with a choice between liberty and security, choose liberty. Otherwise you will end up with neither. People who sell their souls for the promise of a secure job and a secure salary are spat out as soon as they become dispensable. The more loyal to an institution you are, the more exploitable, and ultimately expendable, you become.

...

So my final piece of advice is this: when faced with the choice between engaging with reality or engaging with what Erich Fromm calls the "necrophiliac" world of wealth and power, choose life, whatever the apparent costs may be. Your peers might at first look down on you: poor Nina, she's twenty-six and she still doesn't own a car. But those who have put wealth and power above life are living in the world of death, in which the living put their tombstones - their framed certificates signifying acceptance to that world - upon their walls. Remember that even the editor of the Times, for all his income and prestige, is still a functionary, who must still take orders from his boss. He has less freedom than we do, and being the editor of the Times is as good as it gets.



We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:12:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
I'm glad you've chosen one of my favorite quotes as your new tag line, but it's slightly wrong:
"We have met the enemy and he is us".
Here's some background on the quote:
http://www.igopogo.com/we_have_met.htm

I hate to admit it, but I started reading Pogo shortly after the strip  moved to the NY Post in 1949. I think I have the complete collection of the published books...

I used to read the books to my kids when they were young. They would take on the parts of the minor characters even before they could read. We especially like the bug (who ran for president once) on the "jes' fine" platform. Who knew that he would eventually get elected?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 12:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On a more serious note, my ideal for a person willing to do muckraking without being independently wealthy (or wishing to be so) was I.F. Stone.

His work during the Nixon era and the Vietnam war was especially important. He solved the distribution problem (that is, that no paper would carry him) by publishing his own newsletter.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on him:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I._F._Stone

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Media is following in his footsteps. He has an explicit spin off effort called TPMmuckraker. The web has given him the opportunity to reach a large audience without the difficulties presented by traditional print. I think he is even making a profit and keeps expanding his investigative staff.

So, perhaps, there is reason to be hopeful...

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 01:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you can get a journalism degree, sure. And you can get a job at the local weekly like a couple of my friends, after completing a Masters in journalism and racking up the student loan debt which is a fact of life for Americans. And, after awhile, end up in the PR department of a major multinational to pay off aforementioned student loan debt.

This being said, there are avenues, mostly in print, for the potential for decent journalism in North America. New York Times, Globe and Mail, LA Times, Des Moines Register. Boston Globe used to be good, Wash Post back in the '70's et c. And, to "catch on" at one of these places, you will most definitely need to follow a route of unpaid internships passing into low-paid flunkey work (working unpaid overtime, perhaps, in order to actually do more than just researching for someone else's article or asnwering phones or doing photocopies) before actually moving into something you can make a living at.

I'm willing to bet the socio-economic stratum of origin of your average journalist at the NY Times is significantly higher than the mean, and higher than it was, say, fifty years ago, and this does inform the content.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:07:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Point two very very well taken.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:09:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a period in US history where many major newspapers were owned by independent families with a sense of duty or moral outrage.

And - aside from the family angle - that's where the blogs are today.

But the problem with the blogs is they (we) are inward looking and don't do PR or outreach.

A few LTEs are not the equivalent of a major media presence. And where the trad media are background noise - even in the UK, there are rather too many public places which have TVs in place where you can see the latest 'news' - blogs have a self-selecting audience.

Which isn't to say blogs are bad or even that blogs are a failure, but to make the point that dismantling the noise machine is going to mean taking the battle onto the trad media's own turf.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:20:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a big part of it
all major media outlets are now owned by large industrial firms

Many U.S. newspapers used to be owned and run by families that felt an obligation to the community as well as to reporting the news, and they were satisfied with very modest profits (2-3%). In the last 20 years or so, as those old families have died off, the papers have been absorbed by conglomerates of various kinds, and there is now a requirement for ROI of perhaps 20%.

The only way you get a high return on investment in a labor-intensive business like reporting is to cut your labor costs. So these papers have reduced newsroom staffs and now fill their pages with recycled press releases.

But if you reduce the reporting staff, you also reduce the quality of the newspaper. Or, as the new financial mangagers like to call it, "the product." And then your subscription base declines, and you have to cut costs even more.

A lot of that, I think, has fed the explosive growth of blogs as news sources. There are a lot of good reporters out there, unhappy about what's happened to their profession, but feeling powerless to do anything immediate about it.

by Mnemosyne on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 08:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry to say, rdf, Naomi Wolf is an unfortunate choice of exemplary correspondent. Rather, she typifies redstar's observations. What he speaks from a distance, I recall from intimacy: how privileges cultivate journalistic "authority." I will now speak out of turn, because I simply cannot tolerate fealty to conventions, designed to ridicule commonsensical truths, agreement.

Look at this list again. Do you recognize one original thought on it? Any peculiar observation? Any evidence of extraordinary research into these vestiges of US society and militarism?

I don't. I was at Yale, when NW was there -- also Lyle and Pogue, for example. Both of them were at least Daily News reporters; both immediately graduated to NYT. Lyle earned the bonus of marrying, early in her career, into the Faber fortune; her "features," dispatched from London, may still be found occasionally in section A. NW? Not so much. NW and I lived in the same college, but were not in the same class. Nor were we friends. I will tell you, she was cultivating her "beauty" franchise even then from the purview of Feminist Studies or LitCrit vanity presses. I forget, because, frankly, she was not a recognized "leader" among the student arbiters and activists. (Understand: for these young women, Camile Paglia was a ineffectual political figure!) In any event, in the intervening 20 years, NW hasn't deviated from her brand of feminist mystique. Not once. No Naomi Klein is she. No Ray McGovern is she. No ...

Until this week. Perhaps you can imagine my dismay, when the PR for The End of America (thoughtfully linked to amazon and FDL), titled "Blackwater: Are You Scared Yet," shot to the top of the rec list without critique or even the author's participation. Following 140 comments without mention of Jeremy Scahill or even the faintest of ironic nods to any blogger who has been vilified for publishing "unsourced" pieces on US military fortification in the Indian Ocean, I quit the reception.

Why does one blog, when readers' tolerance for Manufacturing Consent is so high? When too few essayists and commenters can recognized the myriad instances in which one thought, "Indeed, we can't stop globalization or trade," is reproduced to suborn passivity in civil disobedience? So let's pass off advertising as news!

My only hope is that more ordinary readers will venture their experience as fact worth noting, as exemplary evidence of their political will to break professional courtesy extended to Writers of Interest and Journalists of Record.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 06:05:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I don't get your point. I don't care that the list wasn't originated by the author I cited. I'm not interested in her credentials, it was just a convenient summary which I mostly agree with.

If you prefer here are several of my personal essays on related issues:
Saving Democracy

This one deals with the abrogation of the rule of law. It is based upon the work of legal philosopher Franz Neumann. Here is one version of his basic principles:

  1. All men are equal before the law.
  2. Laws must be general, not specific (this rules out bills of attainder).
  3. Retroactive laws are illegitimate.
  4. Enforcement must be separate from the decision-making agencies.

Are my reconsiderations of his work invalid because he did it in the 1940's and 1950's?

The second has to do with the trampling of civil liberties:
Surveillance vs Civil Liberties

To make my point I only refer back to the history of Russia and the USSR starting with the freeing of the serfs. One can draw parallels to today or not as you see fit.

If you have issues with Naomi Wolf, I don't think this is the thread to discuss them. If this is important to you why not start a new diary and lay out your position in detail.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 10:09:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I apologize for any personal offense taken. None was intended. You, after all, introduced Naomi Wolf rather than yourself in conclusion to a comment  describing an apparent evolution in the industry. Subsequently, I find myself replying to a paradox.

For redstar's commentary invited discussion of socially-acceptable standards --as opposed to technical standards-- of journalistic craft. In that context, yes, I do have a problem with deference to Naomi Wolf rather than yourself in modeling political economy of investigation that is sustained by "professional" journalists and bloggers today. Can you not find the irony in the use of this quote to herald a "new society":

We don't necessarily distinguish between politics and policy, or activism and journalism, and we don't pretend that there is an above the fray and an 'in the muck'. Most of all, we respect ideas because ideas, when implemented, have immense power. Ideas matter. Conservative ideas have affected us personally, whether it was growing up in a suburb or having no health care insurance. And to the extent that you create ideas or appropriate ideas and organize around them, you can build a new society. That's what the right did, which is why we respect the right.
Would that originality were my only criterion by which to judge the differences between "new society" and the old, I should quite relieved to find new ideas replicated in the new broadcast media. But it is not. The originality that I seek in the métier of the people's "press" is evidence that the people have discovered new skills, that the very institutional structures --the knowledge base and commerce-- on which it is founded is found useless. I don't see that occuring wherever I find glib manifestos that "appropriate" ideas or "organize" political intelligence around media "credentials" or gloss the inherent disorder of distributed "authority." I see instead consolidating, promotional activity of a new vanguard.

So, no, I would not immediately characterize any reconsideration of Neuman as "invalid." (Thank you for the link; I haven't visit in a while.) But I cannot apologize for presuming The End of America is another link in a chain of lengthy non sequiturs known as US journalism.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 12:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds of a scene on Democracy Now!, where Amy Goodman grills one of the "journalists" involved in the Valery Plame affair. Can't remember his name but he's the buddy of that right wing hack from the NYT that went to jail for a few days.

Anyway, Amy asks him why he didn't push harder to get to the truth instead of swallowing the WH line hook & sinker. His answer begins with: "That's how journalism works, you might not know how to do journalism but we have sources ..." etc etc.

He called Amy Goodman "not a journalist." She who was reporting, among other places, from East Timor, while dodging bullets, when no one else was there to report on the atrocities. You can see her in a documentary, being fired upon; and this fat, arrogant, lazy scumbag is calling her "not a journalist."

A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

by nicta (nico@altiva․fr) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:18:55 AM EST
There's also a significant caste-ization (yay for neologisms!) of the American press. This selection describes what it takes to make it into the upper echelons of the journalistic trade - to get a post at the NYT, the WaPo, to become a national AP correspondent.

It is still possible for the children of the middle-classes, and maybe a small handful of the working classes, to become journalists. The problem is that these folks will hardly ever enter that upper echelon. Instead they will eke out a living writing for the Spokane Statesman-Review or the Rocky Mountain News or the Monterey Herald. Their beats are very local - city hall, schools, local crime. Their pay is either stagnating or decreasing, and they face an increasing threat of buyouts or layoffs. And because of the class barriers to entering those upper echelons of the American press described in the diary, it's impossible to follow the path that Monbiot described.

Meanwhile, what national and international coverage these local papers carry is syndicated from the major outlets - the NYT, the WaPo, etc. So not only are those major outlets almost impossible to break into if you're not from a well-off background, but those are the outlets that dominate the reporting of everything from national health care plans to war with Iran.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 10:52:32 AM EST
The problem is that these folks will hardly ever enter that upper echelon. Instead they will eke out a living writing for the Spokane Statesman-Review or the Rocky Mountain News or the Monterey Herald. Their beats are very local - city hall, schools, local crime. Their pay is either stagnating or decreasing, and they face an increasing threat of buyouts or layoffs. And because of the class barriers to entering those upper echelons of the American press described in the diary, it's impossible to follow the path that Monbiot described.

This is not, as pointed out above so aptly, limited to the means of communications, but also to the political classes.


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:19:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Second, the American educational system does little to nothing to teach Americans about the rest of the world (the secondary schools being egregiously bad on this score), and the US is a very insular place to begin with. I'd reckon that if maybe a little more than half of American students with a college diploma can locate Belgium on a map (and forget about those with only high school diplomas), maybe one in five hundred can identify the two main linguistic communities there much less give you a bit of color and background as to the history and culture of these. They go to cover a land they know little to nothing about, and unsurprisingly they become unwitting vessels for whatever ignorant crap happens to be in the air the time deadline hits. I especially loved this one's treatment of vlaams belang in this regard.

Without getting into any boring details, one project I have been involved in is getting African history and culture included in school curriculum. What you wrote is part of what my "pitch" is and it is very true although I would disagree about Belgium.

World history as taught in the U.S. begins with the Fertile Crescent, moves to the Greek and Roman Empires, then onto Western Europe. After the Middle Ages and the Renaissance we go into the Age of Exploration. It here that American students get a small (very small) exposure to Africa, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. There is no more discussion about Africa until they discuss the issue of slavery. After presenting this description every teacher/professor smile in agreement. Nothing has changed at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels in terms of requirements.

World history at every level of American education is Eurocentric and dismisses all other continents and cultures.

While I bet they can spot Belgium on a map, I know they would have a real tough time spotting Holland.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:46:06 AM EST
World history at every level of American education is Eurocentric and dismisses all other continents and cultures.
You just described World History in European Education.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 11:48:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we should ask them to point out The Netherlands instead? wan smile

My own secondary education was frighteningly alike what you describe - with the difference that after the Renaissance, we moved in one jump to the World Wars, skipping some 250 years in the process. That is still plaguing me today.

by Nomad on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 01:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason I mentioned that was a couple we are friends with took one of those Scandaavian cruises about a month ago. We were at dinner prior and she told us the itinerary which included the Netherlands but was disappointed they were not going to Holland. What makes it even more humorous is that she is a secondary school teacher in American History. You can't make that stuff up:)
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 01:24:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The funny thing is, you can easily go to the Netherlands and not go to Holland. Everytime I go (mostly to Groningen) I'm not going to Holland.

A lot of those nice beach places in Frisenland aren't Holland either...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 01:27:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would only be bizarre if they would visit such places as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft or Leiden and then commiserate they did not go to Holland...
by Nomad on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 01:58:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Their port was Amsterdam, so i told them to look for wooden shoes and then they'll know they are in Holland.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 02:27:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Their port was Amsterdam?!?

Grief.

Good grief.

Zapped into the bizarro realm...

by Nomad on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 02:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopefully her American History student never ask her about anything but American History!
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 02:51:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is the American journalist typically clueless about what they are writing about? This is for a number of reasons which feed each other.
First, journalism training is, generally speaking, pretty specialized, a branch of speech and communications. Like accountants, one is not educated in a subject, one is trained in a craft. Knowledge of the subject one is going to write about is a good asset to have, but certainly not required. The proof? This article migeru is citing, where not only the journalist, but her editor(s), are clearly clueless about major parts of the story she's writing about in the (so-called) paper of American record.

I can vouch that this was indeed the case where I studied.  I did not study journalism, but my school offered one of the most prestigious journalism programs in the country.  In fact, I would love to have taken journalism, but the school was so insulated from the rest of the university that no one outside it was able to take classes in it.  I studied broadcasting in depth, radio, TV and film production, and absolutely every aspect of media production and consumption.  But journalism was off limits.  And I never once ran into journalism students in the broadcast and media history and ethics classes I took.  I did know many students in this school of journalism who also studied international relations.  But they didn't study, say, Russian history.  They studied International relations.  Which is like studying, say, Journalism and not studying, say, Media and nationalism.  It's like they were living in bizarro world.  Most of the undergraduates I knew in the school of journalism aspired to be anchors.  It was a "fame" thing.  Not a "constitutional responsibility" thing.

Second, the American educational system does little to nothing to teach Americans about the rest of the world (the secondary schools being egregiously bad on this score), and the US is a very insular place to begin with. I'd reckon that if maybe a little more than half of American students with a college diploma can locate Belgium on a map (and forget about those with only high school diplomas), maybe one in five hundred can identify the two main linguistic communities there much less give you a bit of color and background as to the history and culture of these. They go to cover a land they know little to nothing about, and unsurprisingly they become unwitting vessels for whatever ignorant crap happens to be in the air the time deadline hits. I especially loved this one's treatment of vlaams belang in this regard.

Really, this is the crux of the matter of all discussion of America and what it is doing.  I was somehow lucky with my teachers.  But I was a weird kid who would rather hang out with my teachers then other students, and my inquisitiveness was rewarded.  I should add, the American educational system, yes (and trust me, it's not that the teachers don't want to teach this stuff, but that they are given little ability to) but the American parental system doesn't really do anything to demand it.  Those who would demand it send their kids to private school.    

Third, and this is probably the most damning, you have to be the child of wealthy parents to become a journalist in the US these days. How's this? First, j-school is not cheap by any means. Second, you don't make money to help pay for j-school or attendant expenses on summer holiday. No, if you want to work for the NY Times one day, that resume better be full of some good internships, starting now. And those internships, in the US they're mostly non-paid. So daddy and mommy are going to have to foot the bill for more than just school. And, once you're done with j-school? Another internship, this time perhaps paid (though quite poorly). Journalism is not a well paid profession when one is getting one's start. Want to get the Time's attention and catch on as a cub reporter? Probably best to work in New York. Not a cheap place to live, New York. So, daddy and mommy are going to have to foot some more bills. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what sorts of parents can afford to give their erstwhile budding reporter this kind of shot at big time journalism.

You probably have to be a child of wealthy parents to write for the WaPo or NYT.  My mom went to a dinky journalism school in southern Illinois and did investigative reporting for FOX News in St. Louis (of all places, but the local FOX news outlets really aren't so bad as the FOX cable news.)

And on that note, let me tell you what you left out.  My mom -who, in a nutshell, had the same values and writing talent as I- did investigative reporting for FOX News.  Between the time her stories were typed up and the time they aired, they'd undergone so much editing and polishing that any substance she'd put into them was gone.  There are a thousand excuses for this.  But my broadcast teacher once said, before a final exam, "If you don't know the answer, remember, the answer is always 'money.'"  News outlets have to make money.  News outlets want to make money.  News outlets are willing to chuck the news when it gets in the way of making money.  Requires too much attention or knowledge?  Not exciting and lurid enough?  Doesn't promote the agenda of advertisers?  Doesn't win you friends in high places?  Chuck it.  White House threatens to ruin your career if you report it?  Chuck it.

And it's the news.  So if it isn't reported, it didn't happen.  Right?  

I should add that the American public is generally aware of all of this.  And it is a contributing factor in the popularity of Right Wing Radio.  They know they are not being told the truth in traditional outlets.  They know the celebrity journalists belong to and elite class with no clue about how the rest of us live.  They know they are bought and paid for.  And this is in part why Right Wing Radio is so popular.  It acknowledges these fears and concerns and preys upon them.  Though I believe an equally strong factor in its popularity is that it's the last safe place to vocally hate blacks, Jews, liberals, women, Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone else they deem The Other.  

...

Frontline recently did a documentary on the state of journalism in America, News War, and I HIGHLY recommend that anyone who can watch it all.  It really drives home everything we are discussing here.  Very well done and worth the time.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 12:06:00 PM EST
my broadcast teacher once said, before a final exam, "If you don't know the answer, remember, the answer is always 'money'."

WOW!  That is THE key thought after reading news that make no sense and a fantastic sig line.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Sep 29th, 2007 at 07:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
brilliant piece..

But do not forget that journalisms also are what other people expect them to be.

For example.. if in the university .. the teach you to be accurate , inform you.. and so on.. (as they do here in UPF university)... you will reach the newsroom waiting for action and learning.. and all that stuff...

When you see  what newsroom actually care for... want... expect... then you adapt.. and if they expect a good use of the money.. well.. there you have it..

Just to add it to the brilliant list of this diary...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 01:03:35 PM EST
You ask me for English-language newspapers worth reading? Aside from the Independent, I can't really think of any.

Then how about one or two examples of quality journalism, in your esteem?  I am very curious to read what you -- and anyone else -- would consider an actual piece of good, solid journalism.

It would be interesting and informative to compile a list of such articles and to try to identify common criteria that make all of them deemed "good journalism".

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 02:21:05 PM EST
Here is, for example, McClatchy on the US President's speech to the UN the other day, and how a real journalist would set that speech up, put it in contemporary historical context::

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the president called for renewed efforts to enforce the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a striking point of emphasis for a leader who's widely accused of violating human rights in waging war against terrorism.

Bush didn't mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA's "rendition" kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world.

"At first read, it's little more than an exercise in hypocrisy. His words about human rights ring hollow because his credibility is nonexistent," said Curt Goering, the deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA. "The gap between the rhetoric and the actual record is stunning. I can't help but believe many people in the audience were thinking, 'What was this man thinking?' "

For contrast, here's how the New York Times covered that speech. You'll note that, unlike the McClatchy piece, the supposed "paper of record" quotes only White House officials, says nothing of the obvious credibility gap the speech once again demonstrated, says nothing of the cold reception the American President received, and ends by playing up a Bush-supported bill tightening sanctions on Iran. Basic stenography.

Note that McClatchy is a chain of newspapers in such flaming lefty metro areas like Boise, Idaho, Wichita Kansas, Anchorage, AK or Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 03:28:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on what your definition of "real" journalism is. I think that definition has changed over the last 20 years.

More classic journalism such as what you presented in the NY Times tries to maintain strong objectivity and present facts only. It allows the reader to reason through facts and draw their own conclusion. In the case you presented the issue of Bush's actions would be a sidebar or analysis separate from the article. Or you would find it as an op-ed piece.

More current journalism that we all see takes a definite point of view and uses the facts to make that point and at times in a provocative or sensational manner in order to capture attention. With the Internet and blogging, journalism has shifted to this form, but most classically trained journalists are unaccustomed to this.

So the only issue I have is that both are forms of "real" journalism. The latter is what is used more and more being spearheaded by bloggers.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 05:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I respectfully disagree.

The McClatchy journalist is providing a full picture (the backdrop of US human rights abuses is relevant in this regard), and presenting both sides of the issue (the Amnesty International quote).

If Brezhnev were to have given a similar speech to the UN at about the time of the invasion of Afghanistan and those Soviet cluster mines in the form of toys were being strewn accross the Afghan countryside like was happening back then, I somewhat doubt the NY Times would have deadpanned the treatment of this speech in this way. They would not have limited their commentary to just the speech - I'm rather certain a reference to that invasion would have crept into the article. And further, I rather doubt they'd rely solely on Kremlin officials to provide color on the speech itself - they more than likely would have asked US State for a statement and ignored those Soviet apparatchiks entirely.

Assuming, of course, that they actually covered the speech in the first place.

Nope, that NY Times article is yellow through and through. Note the way they set up the Kyl-Lieberman amendment at the end. What does this have to do with human rights in Burma and Zimbabwe? The ideoloogical bias is obvious, and the stenography, which they would not have engaged in if, say, they were recounting Hugo Chavez' brilliant sulphur speech, is flagrant. Good journalism is not just presenting selected facts, as the process of selecting those facts provides the basis for a very extreme slant, as this Times article demonstrates.

Unfortunately, they suck like this on such a regular basis it gets tiring to even care.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 05:49:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  This diary and a blog post by Dan Gillmor I found called "The End of Objectivity (Version 0.91)" have gotten me thinking about what makes for a good news article.

First off, it is clear that there are different kinds of new articles, and that the criteria will vary according to these.  For instance, the McClatchy piece you pointed to and the gargantuan investigative piece by Paul Salopek that poemless points to below, while both obviously being journalism, are birds of a very different feather.  (You also call the New York Times article about Belgium that spawned this discussion a "survey", implying that this type of article has its own particular criteria that other types of articles do not.)

Having said that, there are some standards which hopefully can be expected across the board.  Dan Gillmor identified four:

  • Thoroughness
  • Accuracy
  • Fairness
  • Transparency

I would another:

- relevance (or pertinence)

For example, while applying the thoroughness or fairness criterion, a journalist may consider mentioning -- in this McClatchy piece -- Ahmadinejad's comments about gays in Iran.  However, when one applies the relevance criterion, mentioning those remarks would be overextending the piece, whose topic is Bush's remarks, and it would be a very subjective (although in the current context of U.S.-Iranian confrontation very understandable) conflation of two speeches that have no a priori relation to one another.

Similarly, by the relevance criterion, the following sentence is worth including in the article (though perhaps not obviously so), because it (may) shed some light on how the targets of Bush's speech immediately reacted to it:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat in the U.N. chamber, often checking his watch, during Bush's remarks. Cuban officials walked out during Bush's 20-minute speech.

Looking at the criticism of the article about Belgium that set off this diary, there were attacks based on the article's violation of thoroughness, fairness, accuracy, and relevance.

The article was attacked based on relevance because it mentions Vlaams Belang at all --

what is more worrying is that the  Vlaams Belang is being given credibility in the eyes of the NYT readership.

-- as well as based on fairness because not only does it mention Vlaams Belang but also

puts the Vlaams Belang at the top of their article and all the counterbalancing evidence and nuance at the bottom of the piece with no mention at all of the Cordon Sanitaire.

In a comment in that diary, you call out the article on accuracy:

For one thing, and this is important in a survey like this, Belgium wasn't created as a buffer state to contain France - an enlarged and unified Netherlands including the southern, Austrian parts, was. Well before 1830.

Belgium is the result of, in fact, a backlash against this Dutch-speaking and Protestant buffer state on the part of its Catholics (both Flemisch and French).

-- which should be easy enough to verify, as well as on thoroughness:

The NYT journalist does not seem to trouble herself with the details of this, which might open up some insights (ie, Catholic identity is increaslingly less relevant, thus perhaps too Belgium's raison d'etre?

In another comment, Jerome offers a "reality-based article" which I have yet to read.  It will be interesting to do so while thinking about these criteria of "good journalism".


Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:48:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In another comment, Jerome offers a "reality-based article" which I have yet to read.  It will be interesting to do so while thinking about these criteria of "good journalism".

Immediate difficulty becomes apparent when doing so:  in order to evaluate an article based on these criteria, the reader must already be an expert on the article's topic, or at least have more information about the topic than is covered in the article.

The burden then is on the self-styled expert to articulate specifically what is wrong with the content of the article.  That is what a proper criticism of an article involves.  Ad hominem criticisms against the author or the publication, etc. -- e.g. "controlled by corporations", "uneducated", "spoiled rich kids", etc. -- might be helpful in their proper place.  But on their own they are at best unpersuasive, irrelevant, and tiresome -- in a word, useless -- as criticisms of a news article.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 10:06:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some good English Language journalism:

Newspapers:

Last year Paul Salopek wrote a gigantic and brilliant story for the Chicago Tribune: "A tank of gas, a world of trouble."

Ben Joravsky and Michael Miner at the Chicago Reader are doing great work.

Magazines:

Matt Taibbi, who used to write for the eXile raking muck about the Oligarchs is now at Rolling Stone giving our corrupt system the same treament.

TV:

Bill Moyers was hosting "NOW."  He retired a few years ago.  Fortunately that was just a freak temporary thing.  He's back hosting "Bill Moyers Journal".

"Frontline" and "NOVA" are also pretty good.

Radio:  

"Worldview" is about the only place I've found doing regular, often under the radar, non-corporatey international journalism.  They also feature "Radio Netherlands" shows.  Which are great.

And of course there are the blogs we all know about.  

Lesson:

Alternative, public and local media is where it's at, with little exception.   Where are our Edward R. Murrows and Woodward & Bernsteins?  Dead and sold out...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 03:33:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  This diary has been helpful to think about what makes for good and bad journalism.  I will be following more carefully and with greater interest what journalism people on ET praise and criticize and the specific reasons they do so and whether these reasons are clear and consistent enough to be applied as criteria systematically.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 09:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the links, especially "worldview"- it's a breath of fresh air.
Moyers has been a national treasure for so long I can't remember when he wasn't there.
I have some strong ideas about media, but like all attempts to discuss social trends and changes, it really gets complex. We here on ET tend toward the clockwork world, making discussions pretty linear. That said (and with my helmet on) I'm gonna diary this soon.
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 07:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This discussion is on point, and with much reasoned analysis in the comments.  But we haven't mentioned the word propaganda yet.

Anyone looking clearly at amurkan journalism from outside can attest to the sophistication of the propaganda, 24/7, from every direction.  It's much harder to connect the dots to see how the mighty wurlitzer is programmed, but that doesn't mean it isn't.  Because the effect is so omnipresent, one doesn't see it when one is forced to swim in it.

I couldn't take it anymore, a factor in my move the Deutschland.  I have friends, quite intelligent and worldly, who missed even some of the big lies during the run up to war, much less the more intrusive continual small lies.  This machine is powerful, "well-oiled," to make a connection, and has studied the past to evolve the methods and messages of today.

We are truly looking at a last chance for free information exchange on the net, nearly as predicted more than two decades ago.  The king is dead, long live ET.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 03:35:05 PM EST
Geez I thought it was so obvious it needed no special mention.  (Though I did imply it in my remark about studying media and nationalism.)

You are a little condescending in your remark that anyone outside the US can see it.  Well, a lot of Americans can see it.

But I'd assert that the idea of propaganda being inherently negative is a rather American notion.  It originally meant "that which should be spread." The Russians thought propaganda a good thing, like evangelism.  And we now accept that ALL communication is subjective by its very nature. In fact, the concept of propaganda as inherently evil and avoidable is a real bit of American propganda in action!  It's bad when the bad guys do it.  because they are lying.  When the good guys do it, it's not propaganda.  It's a public service. :)  hahaha

Anyway, I guess you meant "subliminal propaganda supporting the war and the Administration and unchecked capitalism."  

Yes.  This is why I believe media criticism should be taught the moment a child starts school.  Even then you are already unteaching them 5 years of ingrained behavior.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 03:58:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point that propaganda had other meanings, and communication is subjective.  I never wanted to assert that no one in amurka can see it, i'm well aware of that.  But it's not condescending when so many people in amurka still believe in the NYT or the WaPo, much less the Wall St editorial pages.

The point is that sophisticated, evil propaganda works continually, even to the point of sapping the strength of those who wish to fight it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 04:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too bad I´m late for this great diary and comments.

Another requirement for a real journalist that is usually missing is the basic intangible:  What I´d call ´vocation´, passion, deep interest and whatever else one internally needs to really desire to ´inform the public about reality´.

I think I have said before, that the reading public has become an irrelevant ´side effect´ to the media, because their biggest income comes from advertising, not from subscriptions.  Therefore, "the answer is money" in all they put out because it´s meant to keep the economic-political elites happy.

As far as influencing the media, does anyone know how the news agencies work behind the scenes?  I´m talking about AP, AFP, UPI, etc. and "www.api.aggregateknowledge._" which blinks on the url address when I look at the WaPo.  Do they have much wider coverage than individual outlets at a primary level?

If they do, then blogs´ coverage is equivalent to news agencies, not just outlets and that should be our focus.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Sep 29th, 2007 at 08:30:29 AM EST


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