Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Another voice

Stories like this one let me know I'm not completely out on a limb with my "Media Revolt Manifesto" -- some respected media folks are feeling the same way:
Esteemed journalist lectures on ethics

The media industry has been infested by the rise of pseudo-journalists who go against journalism's long tradition to serve the public with accurate information, Los Angeles Times Editor John S. Carroll told a packed room in the Gerlinger Lounge on Thursday.
Carroll delivered the annual Ruhl Lecture, titled "The Wolf in Reporter's Clothing: The Rise of Pseudo-Journalism in America." The lecture was sponsored by the School of Journalism and Communication.

"All over the country there are offices that look like newsrooms and there are people in those offices that look for all the world just like journalists, but they are not practicing journalism," he said. "They regard the audience with a cold cynicism. They are practicing something I call a pseudo-journalism, and they view their audience as something to be manipulated."

These feelings aren't simply liberal angst. They've been substantiated by a fact that Carroll discussed: the high numbers of Americans who believed that Iraq was directly connected to 9/11, and similar false "facts" propagated by the media:
Carroll cited a study released last year that showed Americans had three main misconceptions about Iraq: That weapons of mass destruction had been found, a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq had been demonstrated and that the world approved of U.S intervention in Iraq. He said 80 percent of people who primarily got their news from Fox believed at least one of the misconceptions. He said the figure was more than 57 percentage points higher than people who get their news from public news broadcasting.

"How in the world could Fox have left its listeners so deeply in the dark?" Carroll asked.

I think the study Carroll is thinking of can be found here. It's important to note that while Fox is the worst offender, and TV news generally is the bane of accurate reporting, the success of false propagandistic "facts" is pervasive across nearly all media:
A new study based on a series of seven nationwide polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the Iraq war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq.

The polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals’ primary source of news.

Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.

As American Assembler observed:
The ramifications of this study are far reaching. For one, it confirms the long held suspicion that corporate controlled television networks are not only failing to provide necessary information to viewers, but are in fact providing false information.

It also confirms that, at least among the news networks, liberal bias is a complete fabrication which, because of this report, is easier to believe since a significant percentage of viewers believe liberal media bias exist because they heard it on TV news.

But a larger issue exist[s] here. The report shows a clear link between misinformation and support for Bush's war. Here's where the Orwellian factor comes in. Not only did Bush & co. mislead the public into war, but they had ready accomplices in the network news organizations.

This forces serious questions about the motives of those who hold the sacred trust of the public airwaves. It also demonstrates how powerful TV news is at affecting public perceptions and consequently, public policy.

As PIPA recently reported [PDF file] these misperceptions actually continue to persist to the present day.

No comments: