11 Comments


  • Bush supporters have succeeded in suppressing awareness of the findings of a whole series of high-profile reports about prewar Iraq that have been blazoned across the headlines of newspapers and prompted extensive, high-profile and agonizing reflection. The fact that a large portion of Americans say they are unaware that the original reasons that the US took military action — and for which Americans continue to die on a daily basis — are not turning out to be valid, are probably not due to a simple failure to pay attention to the news.

    Could it have anything to do with the active denigration of news outlets by the right, and the corresponding rise of newsspeak outlets like Fox and Drudge?

    October 21, 2004
  • I think you’re right, though WHY Americans should be so susceptible to such manipulation is the larger question. I think it taps into the latent American strain of anti-intellectualism. Too many Americans have a preference for easy, unambiguous answers, and Fox News and its ideological brethren are shameless about pandering to that preference, only slightly more so than the major network news outlets.

    October 21, 2004
  • Ahh..Fox News. America’s own little Al Jazeera

    October 21, 2004
  • Plus when TV news is unpleasant and sensationalized to the point of being traumatic, one can want to shy away from it. People don’t like bad news, and very little good news gets reported. Ergo, many people avoid news like the plague. (I speak with some embarrassment as one who is trying to dig herself out of that particular pit of ignorance.)

    October 22, 2004
  • Have you seen Control Room? Al Jazeera may in fact be more balanced than Fox.

    October 22, 2004
  • That’s depressing indeed. To have such ignorance in an age of such universal literacy is inexcusable. I guess literacy is no good if the only things you ever read are the Bible and Reader’s Digest. These sources don’t exact train one to think critically.

    October 22, 2004
  • When I was a newswriting student, almost the first thing my professor said to us was “This is an MFA course: Murders, Fires and Accidents.” Journalism at its most basic is telling stories, and stories need drama. Usually the dramatic stories the world provides don’t have happy endings.

    TV news, of course, is that principle distilled to its essence: not merely drama, but telegenic drama that can be explained in 25 (small) words. Even the sainted Jim Lehrer must bow to that convention sometimes.

    October 22, 2004
  • Only the apostates read Reader’s Digest.

    But you’re right: it’s fucking inexcusable. Reliable news coverage has NEVER been easier to hand for most Americans, yet a significant portion of them will get their information for the least accurate, least thoughtful sources. Again, I lay this tendency at the feet of our anti-intellectual, evangelical tradition.

    October 22, 2004
  • Usually the dramatic stories the world provides don’t have happy endings.

    I would submit that it’s more that happy endings are anticlimactic, and thus don’t make top-story status often. Sure, we like happy endings, but only after much horror and strife.

    I’ve long had the thought of starting the Good News Channel (or Website), wherein people can come to read about all the interesting and pleasant things happening in the world. Not just what’s commonly called “human interest” stories, but little tidbits that show the other side of the world, the side that’s not all about beheadings and car-bombs and tribal conflicts.

    October 22, 2004
  • And yet. This channel/website/newspaper says one thing, that one another contradictory thing. Everyone seems to have an agenda, rendering their stories suspect. If you dive in fresh as a newborn babe, how do you know who to believe, who to trust?

    And frankly, “reliable” news coverage may be out there, but I ain’t seein’ it on TV or in the newspapers, and there are so many damned websites that it’s hard to know which ones are legit. What I’m seeing in the news these days is sensationalized crap without a hint of investigative journalism or objective analysis. I am weary of being spoon-fed what both sides of an issue say, without any digging into to the veracity of either claim. And that makes me reluctant to look at the news at all.

    I am not an anti-intellectual, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone less evangelical than me. I was raised in a family that values education and rational thought. Hell, I was raised a Unitarian; I could argue cogently before I could ride a bike. But it can be overwhelming trying to learn about what’s really going on in the world when every corner huckster has something to sell.

    October 22, 2004
  • This and your other post, above, require a longer answer than I can give it right now: good questions. I think I’ll write a whole essay on news, good and bad, and journalism. Maybe tomorrow.

    October 22, 2004

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