Alex Jowski (my never edits anything useless editor) wrote this today which sparks the remainder of this weeks Sanity…
“So I read this article about the incident in Nairobi this weekend that made me angry. The tenor or the article was “… they killed women and children and some of them were Americans.” Tossing in that “some of them were Americans” felt like it was trivializing the death of other innocent people – as if the only casualties that mattered where the American ones. I’m really done with any kind of biased media at this point. Stories from AP or Reuter’s seemed to be rather fact based with “59 hostages died” regardless of race, creed or political origin. While Fox news, CNN, etc have reported “Four Americans were injured, OMG!… and then there were 59 other people that died.”
I’m just feeling jaded about the whole thing today.”
Sorry to keep beating this statement into the ground but I worked in a real newsroom for a decade as a Cameraman and an Assignment Editor*, I know how news stories are carefully prepared, edited within an inch of death and most of all manipulated to have the maximum impact on the public. Yes, manipulated, maneuvered, engineered, directed, distorted, doctored, massaged, misrepresented etc… while they always used the “facts” of the story (as far as we could confirm at the time) they steered the story as to fit what the station or news director wanted to say. For example the Nairobi shooting, this has no real relevance to a US audience in that most mercins think Nairobi is a race of aliens in Star Wars who protect Lord Vader’s kin, but if you want to get this story in your newscast you talk about how americans were hurt and NOW, all of a sudden, it has national coverage. Nairobins’? Whatever. Americans? Lets report this shit. The story is NOT about the 4 americans who were wounded (out of the 150 plus non-americans who were wounded and the 15 or so non-americans killed). This story is about how radical religious belief and terrorism coupled with the mass availability of guns coalesced into a tragedy yet to hear US news report on it this was an attack upon western values perpetrated by the enemies of freedom… in Africa… to Africans. As I said, they did not report anything that was not technically true but they manipulated how the story was told to elect a specific response. CBS News for example started their report by saying the mall in question “was very popular with westerners”. Is this relevant to the story itself? Not in the least. Does it grab the audience to attention? Very much so. Without the “american’s got hurt” angle a large portion of the US could not care less about what happened in Nairobi to Africans, but when you add that americans were tangentially involved, well then that changes it, now it affects my people. In this age of splintering loyalties and national propaganda it has become, more than ever before, about how this affects you.
Is this the fault of the newscasters? No, it is the fault of the news viewers. The newscasters know what you want in a story and they give it you, so in a very real way this is your fault that the news has devolved this far. I told that (unfortunately true) story last week about how Green Bay Packer news trumped all other national or even national security news and it sadly goes even deeper than that. When it comes to local news the local part of that is the most valued element to the news director. Most local news agencies have this attitude that since CNN, MSNBC and Faux News are out there they will only get viewers by reporting the stories that are too “local” for those larger outfits to bother with. To be fair, this is not completely misguided, CNN would never cover a Green Bay police shooting or meth bust but then again that is the point of local news isn’t it? To be local and still report the news is not a bad thing but why can’t you have a balance between local and national? This always frustrated me when I was an assignment editor, if I wanted to get a national story into the newscast I had to find a “local angle” to it. Maybe someone in the story is from here, maybe it will directly affect this area or the like and frankly this become tiresome after awhile. There were plenty of national stories that deserved coverage by us which were ignored because no “local angle” could be found.
Many outlets will write a story that is still factual yet is mangled to the point of incoherency out of pushing the agenda of the parent company. Remember that Faux News sued (and won) the right to lie and still call it news, Faux News has no credibility nor have they ever cared too, but most news agencies at least like to put up the face of being real news. So, how do you pretend you have journalistic ethics while continuing to push an agenda that is hardly median? Bury the lead. When you bury the lead you write all of your bunk science, speculation, conjecture, agenda material throughout most of the article or news piece, then at the very end, maybe the last 2 paragraphs, you give the actual facts and mention that the above was just bunk science, speculation, conjecture and agenda pushing. Burying the lead is a long standing “journalistic” practice which is borne out of the fact that many readers will lose interest or simply skim an article rather than read it fully. When you bury the lead you are wagering on the fact that most people will read your bunk science, speculation, conjecture and agenda pushing, take it in and then give up before they get to the part where you tell them you were full of shit and here are the actual facts. You can’t say they lied to you since they DID put the facts in there, it’s not their fault you didn’t see it.
It is up to you as the ingestor of the news to hold those who would alter it for unscrupulous means to a higher standard. Don’t be manipulated, look for the obvious tells of a doctored story, look for obvious shoehorning in of “americans” when it comes to international news, look for buried leads and most of all look for the fingerprints of to much production. Force them to be real journalists again, force them to have standards and most of all force them to stop pandering to you like an inbred hick.
*In journalism, an assignment editor is an editor who selects, develops and plans reporting assignments, either news events or feature stories, to be covered by reporters while collating available information.
Tell me to shut the fuck up at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to leave a comment even if it’s a nasty one (especially if it’s a nasty one).