|In anticipation of Leadership Mohawk Valley's Media Day, April 4, 2007, here is a pop quiz to examine how your knowledge of current events pierces the fog created by the popular print and electronic press:
- What is fauxtography?
- Who is the green helmet man?
- To what does Pallywood refer?
- What meeting would likely have leaked Valerie Plame?s identity to NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof?
- Who outed Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak?
- When would special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald have known who outed Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak?
- What percent of American income tax does the lowest 40% pay in taxes? The top 20%?
- Should Congress be able to inspect communications within the Executive Branch?
- Should the Executive Branch be able to inspect communications within Congress?
- Is it legal for Iranians to try captured British navy members as spies?
- How much have you read about Dianne Feinstein in the MSM (MainStream Media) this week?
- What did the federal agency that, for the last 12 years of the Republican administration, has tracked pork-barrel spending do as soon as the Congressional majority changed in the last election?
- What was Benan Savan in charge of when he received $140-160,000 he claims was from his government-pensioned aunt in Cyprus, who fell down her apartment house elevator shaft before she could testify, leaving Sevan her apartment to live in?
- What went missing from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's residence during Volker's "investigation" of the "U.N> Oil-for-Food scandal?
- Was Al Gore's polar bear family stranded by global warming?
- Is mankind the largest factor in global warming?
- Who is Jamil Hussein and has anyone outside Associated Press ever seen him?
And, while it is not required reading, the blog entries below, from most recent to older posts, offer some background about what will be discussed:
Webs of incompetence, deceit, and politics
In the rarified air of major news, a leak may lead to five more minutes of prime time or five more inches of front page. No wonder, then, that furtive conversations are fed to journalists who only loosely check them before the leaks are played for the reporter's gain. News media like the NY Times, Newsweek, NBC, the Washington Post, CNN, Time Magazine and Newsweek cut the cloth to fit their predetermined storylines. They conveniently recycled and reused pseudo-experts with obvious connections and agendas even after they have been unmasked and discredited.
Crisis? What crisis?
Journalism blithely builds bridges for others to use to transport troops into the heartland. It has lost the skill to differentiate behavior that is antithetical to any society. As a surrogate for readers, it chases what it claims to be objectivity so hard it can no longer identify and label misbehavior. It does so because journalism -- and the programs that teach journalists -- can't see what they can't see.
Contemporary journalism has circuit breakers that never seem to pop. Every day, articles get through that fail the smell test. Worse, few readers seem to care. Even if they do, complaints don't generate enough traction to change either journalism or the community. The circuit breakers don't pop because the people and press don't see the problem. Press coverage sets a narrow depth of field on the lens of coverage. They dwell on the action in the foreground -- milestones, trivia, artificial competitions, the appearance versus the reality, games, style -- the easy things at the expense of the important. The narrow depth of field leaves the background, as if it did not matter, stubbornly out of focus for the reader.
Taking on the media
The mistake is to presume the media -- in particular, CBS, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and lately, AP are populated by political activists; that they are in the campaign business as much as they are in the business of reporting the news. Not true. For one thing, such a concerted plan is beyond them, and, for another, they really aren't in the business of reporting the news and historically never tried to be. News isn't news. Grocery tabloids entertain the people with what they say. As far as luxury infotainment wrapped in pretense, the difference between the grocery tabloid and CNN is only the level of gall.
Critically critical thinking
Blogging from Iraq in "Iraq the Model," Mohammed writes, "Here in the lands of sands logic continues to find very little space in our way of thinking and is had been shrinking before a language of mostly false pride, dignity and sentimental slogans."
The lens of the media
Reporting in the media distorts reality much the same way a magnifying lens clearly represents what it focuses on while distorting it relative to what surrounds it.
So whether we speak of one individual, two or more individuals interacting, the journalist that serves as a surrogate, or a society interacting with other societies, rest assured that process counts, place in time counts, reflection on experience counts, sound thought counts, interaction with others counts -- because all we are about manufacturing civilization, for our own safety's sake.
"Fahrenheit 451" and the Media
[Ray] Bradbury's call to attention applies to individuals, media, and society because individuals, media, and society are superimposed.
In the end, only you can put yourself at the point of the sword. Only you can defend your future and that of your children. Only you can inoculate yourself against what Richard Mitchell calls the worm in the brain that looses the fog that endangers us all.