January 27 2005
OLD MEDIA FAILING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BADLY: The
election in Iraq this coming Monday is easily the biggest
story of the year thus far and could arguably be one of
the most consequential events since the attacks of September
11 or the fall of the Berlin Wall. Given its importance,
you would expect the mainstream media to devote a significant
amount of resources to covering and analyzing the run up
to the election. But aside from a few notable exceptions,
that just isn't happening - especially in the major daily
newspapers across the country.
what little coverage we get of the Iraqi election is either
bundled into or completely overshadowed by astonishingly
negative stories that get front page treatment with blaring
headlines. Take yesterday, for example. Here are the front
page images and stories from four of the nation's largest
Pushes Deficit To Record"
The Cost at Home"
Deficit Projected at $427 Billion"
Campaign of Intimidation"
front page story about the Iraqi election - and a rather
negative one at that - among papers with a combined circulation
of nearly 2.5 million daily readers. Interestingly, these
papers are also all owned by the Tribune
Company, though the negative coverage in them was hardly
unique. The vast majority of newspapers around the country
also treated the deficit as the most important story of
the day, providing little or no front page coverage of the
elections in Iraq.
morning, ironically, on a day when The Baltimore Sun
used the death toll from what looks to be an accidental
helicopter crash to sprawl across the top of its page the
banner headline "Deadliest
Day for U.S. in Iraq War," Thomas Sowell wrote
in the Sun's opinion section about the
pernicious effect of the press' relentlessly negative bias
in covering the War in Iraq:
a battle ends with Americans killing a hundred guerrillas
and terrorists, while sustaining 10 fatalities, that is
an American victory. But not in the mainstream media.
The headline is more likely to read: "Ten More Americans
Killed in Iraq."
kind of journalism can turn victory into defeat. Kept
up long enough, it can even end up with real defeat, when
support for the war collapses at home and abroad.
I've singled out The Baltimore Sun, but they are
hardly the only example. Click through the hundreds of images
of newspaper front pages around the country available
here to see just how depressingly uniform the press
was in reporting this story.
complaint (and Sowell's) isn't that these stories aren't
news or that they shouldn't be reported. Nor is it that
the facts reported in them aren't accurate in a technical
sense. The MSM's biggest failing, which we've seen becoming
more pronounced as new outlets for information become available
to the public, is the priority, emphasis, and the complete
lack of balance and context with which they treat these
part of this failing is driven by liberal bias. Another
part of it is that the MSM has become utterly reactive and
entrenched in the mind set that carnage and chaos sells
new media, however, isn't burdened by any such orthodoxy.
Just take a look at the new Iraqi election web site/blog,
of Democracy that is being edited by Michael
J. Totten. It's a collection of reports from local Iraqis,
none of which are trained journalists. The first hand accounts
are interesting, informative and by no means Pollyannaish.
they provide a completely different context through which
people in America can watch the Iraqi election unfold, one
that isn't overshadowed by the "if it bleeds it leads"
mentality and the ideological baggage of the U.S. press
old media is failing the American public badly - and the
worst part about it is that they don't seem to have a clue.
Even as viewers change the channel and readers drop subscriptions,
many in the traditional media keep playing the same tune,
unwilling or unable to address the ever-growing number of
justifiable criticisms of the way they choose to package
and deliver news and information. - T. Bevan 1:00
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