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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Best & Worst of Journalism? (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Best & Worst of Journalism?
Member # 1860

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The uplift series are both great. The Postman is actually a pretty good book for what it is, too.

I just wanted to know if you like his style, he wrote a great essay a while ago.


You won't agree with everything in it (heck, I don't) but it's more than worth the read.

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Sorry I haven't had a chance to read and post for a while, but I'm back!
KnightEnder wrote: If nothing else I THINK that everybody should try to find someone on the OTHER side that they can bear to watch to know what the other side is saying. Thus hopefully bring us closer together, or combat that which we cannot find common ground on.

Matteo522 wrote: The Factor is really smart about bringing on powerful people from opposing sides to debate. You'll get the head of the ACLU vs. the head of the Boy Scouts of America arguing. You'll get a high-ranking Democratic strategist vs. a high-ranking Republican strategist. And that way, no matter which side of the issue you fall on.. you'll hear what you want to hear. Hopefully you'll also hear the other side... but you'll definitely hear the points you want to hear.

I think you're both half right. The problem is that talking about the "other side" of issues too often implies that we should boil everything down to liberal/conservative, Rep/Dem, good/evil, etc. Reality is not that simple. And yet people like O'Reilly (whom I dislike) and Olbermann (whom I like) continue to try and convince us it "us versus them." That may make us stroke our self-righteousness, but I don't think it makes us a better informed people.
Matteo522 wrote: Honestly, the news I read online is all from Google News.
Hmm, interesting. Thanks, I think I'll try that, along with the websites for print news like New York Times and Wall Street Journal. All are new web territory for me. And I welcome any other suggestions (which is the selfish reason I started this thread in the first place).
Matteo522 wrote: ...but I could've sworn [Jon Stewart] views his show as important. Not necessarily legitimate news... and definitely comedy... but still important. Maybe he means important as in it's important to laugh at yourself?
I'm not sure what he meant, but I definitely agree with that. Satire is my favorite form of comedy, because it allows you to take a deep ideological breath and see the absurdity in everything. South Park and The Daily Show are my favorite satirical TV shows.

For example, I'm LDS (Mormon). South Park did an episode where a Mormon family came to town. Each time the family would share some of the story of Joseph Smith, they'd cut to a cheesy musical version of the story. It really showed how utterly absurd some of Joseph Smith's claims could seem to non-Mormons. And it was so helarious, I almost wet myself.

Was I offended? Not in the least. It actually showed Mormons as a good, decent, friendly, family-centered, and people... who just happen to believe in some pretty outlandish stuff. In fact, I found it helpful as someone who BELIEVES in this "absurd" and "outlandish" stuff. It helps me understand others' perspective. And that makes me less likely to ignorantly offend others. It also makes me less likely to make too many assumptions when I explain my beliefs.

Satire is great stuff. But in today's easily offended atmosphere -- where everyone takes themselves too seriously, and wants little that challenges them -- satire hasn't been very prevalent. Political cartoonists, for example, are more likely to be scolded than appreciated. Very few of us seem to see the value in admitting that ANY and ALL of our beliefs, ideologies, and truths can be pretty absurd (and even dangerous) if not balanced by other truths. Especially those things we believe most strongly.

Sheesh, too long. I'm just very interested in the ideas you guys are bringing up, and can't help waxing on. [Smile]

[ October 24, 2006, 09:50 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Glad to have you back, drewmie. And a very good post to mark your return.
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Yet another example of hackery over journalism on Fox News's The Big Story w/ John Gibson.
GIBSON: Tony Snow, Thanks very much for joining us. Is it true the president has abandoned the line we’re staying the course and the new explanation of Iraq is there is a time line in place?

SNOW: This a great story, because we went back and looked today and could only find eight times where he ever used the phrase stay the course.

Unfortunately, if you use "the Google" (as Bush says), you'll find that Bush himself has used the phrase at least 30 times. But did John Gibson make the correction? Of course not. He simply allowed the propoganda, since that what his show is about. Another example on the front page of his site today:
I stand by my comment that if Democrats who hate Bush and the Iraq war win, the insurgents win.
Now, such a comment MIGHT be journalism if he backed it up in a careful, objective, well-researched, and well-reasoned way. But he didn't. He merely spouts the party line.

Some may argue that John Gibson should not be held to hard journalism standards, because he is merely a news commentator (or some such title). The problem, as I've said before, is that this defense is in direct opposition to the fact that John Gibson SAYS HE IS A JOURNALIST AND A NEWS MAN, and spouts the "fair and balanced news" comment on his show. Another example right at the bottom of his show's web page:
John Gibson's Bio: Learn more about Gibson's extensive news experience!
As long as people call what they do news and journalism, an honest public should be highly critical of anyone who chooses to report partisan propoganda or entertainment instead of real, objective, fact-based, well-researched, relevant news.

Frankly, I don't really care how many times President Bush used the "stay the course" phrase. I just expect those newspeople who think it is relevant to report it factually.

It is a blatant example of a huge problem. Americans of all political stripes would increasingly rather hear what supports their own ideology spouted back at them, even if it means getting incomplete, misleading, or outright false information.

[ October 26, 2006, 10:58 AM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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On the other hand, there are examples good journalism treating subjects fairly, even when that subject is a point of view, and even when that point of view is widely considered wrong. One example was on PBS's The Newshour, which on Monday, October 23, 2006 ran a story entitled Deadly Month in Iraq Bolsters Calls for Withdrawal:
Eighty-six U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in October, making it one of the war's deadliest months. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies considers a withdrawal of U.S. troops in this first part of a series on Iraq views.
I watched this conversation, and I seriously disagreed with the guest's suggestion that we pull out our troops. But I was so impressed by a number of positive things about the conversation.

First, I never heard the term "cut and run," nor the term "stay the course." Both are terms for political advantage, and only serve to prejudice viewers.

Second, the interviewer Ray Suarez asked very tough and pointed questions, but never gave a personal point of view. He understood that his job was not as a commentator, but as a reporter who is responsible to ask the questions to illicit answers that will give the greatest amount of information to viewers. The reporter doesn't matter. Popular opinion and ratings don't matter. Ideologies don't matter. Reporting the news does.

Third, I didn't hear a Straw Man, "an argument which is different from, and usually weaker than, the opposition's best argument." For the first time, I heard the best argument I've ever heard for withdrawal. I've never heard an argument for so-called "cut and run" nearly this good, since it is usually treated as a sound bite. It was well-reasoned, apolitical, an showed a thorough knowledge of the subject. I still disagree with it, but I certainly am better informed -- about both the position AND about Iraq -- for having heard it.

Fourth, the guest was not a "pretty person." The Newshour regularly has people who are frumpy, weird-looking, and far from charismatic. Such a concern is irrelevant to real news, but is a top priority for almost all private television news organizations. Charisma usually trumps competence.

Fifth, the very next day The Newshour had another conversation with a differing point of view, Plan Floated to Divide Iraq Along Ethnic Lines:
As the debate continues over the United States' next steps in Iraq, some proposals have called for sectioning the country along ethnic lines. Former State Department official Peter Galbraith discusses the de-centralization of Iraq in this second of a Newshour series on the future of Iraq.
This "series" shows a true journalistic desire to report the best of many points of view on the subject. It doesn't reduce everything to two sides. Instead, it explores many points of view and treats a complex subject with its due complexity. Again, a very intelligent and apolitical interview. And again, no Straw Man, but the best argument I've ever heard on a point of view I currently disagree with. I didn't see yesterday's program, but I'm very interested on what comes next.

Great journalism satisfies a hunger for knowledge and understanding. Bad journalism satisfies the needs of the juvenile, the antagonistic, and the inordinately stupid.

P.S.- For the record, I honestly have no idea what we should do in Iraq. I feel like I have fewer answers as the conflict goes on. But it is comforting to have news sources that give me more confidence in my understanding of the situation and the options available.

[ October 26, 2006, 11:49 AM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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