Irritating media coverage

It's quite irritating about what our media reports.

The Sri Lankan government decided to launch a final offensive against the breakaway Tamil country in the north and its military advances for months. Finally, an end to this quarter century-long Sri Lankan Civil War is in sight.
What do many reporters do? Call for a ceasefire because civilians are trapped (actually kept hostage by the Tamil Tigers, as it seems).
Germans have a saying: "Besser ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende." (Better end with terror than terror without end.)

A Narco war is raging in a Mexican city and journalists from the Western world descend on Mexico City (because, after all, the city with all that killing is way too dangerous as a permanent base for the journalists). One of many influenza virus appears in Mexico City (actually having begun in September 2008) and what happens?
Many reporters in that place, so a mediocre event becomes a global scare.
Seriously nuts.

The government of Pakistan attempts appeasement with the Taliban, fails, decides to act militarily in SWAT valley (as was demanded by the West since the initial appeasement).
Our reporters can of course not report from SWAT valley (hey, even a Pakistani journalist was killed there, so ours certainly don't go there!).
What do they see? Troops moving in at truck speed (so not that much visible) and civilians fleeing at walking pace (actually the most normal thing in warfare ever).
News: Civilians are suffering, fleeing, terrible, human tragedy...blabla.
Of course are humans suffering. It's about violence. There's no way to get rid of the problem but violence. The Pakistani government really tried, but non-violent methods failed.
So reporters, STFU about side effects and stop delivering badly distorted news! We want to know whether the Pakistani army succeeds in combat!

I'm none of those who generally bash the media, especially not about bias. The "bias" that many see in certain media outlets is defined by the relative position of the media to the observer; the same source can feel like being too far left, balanced or too far right - depending on the position of the observer.

Certain other media defects are apparent, though. The news filtering performance seems to be unacceptable. Our societies should develop means to correct this in order to get better news.

Maybe the end of centralized news filtering has come anyway, though. The internet allows everyone to filter himself - maybe that's the fix for the problem that's so badly needed. A decentralized, partially international news provider. It's no wonder that the newspaper business is in decline in many countries.

One problem remains with the internet, though: How to finance investigative journalism that cannot be replaced by intrinsically interested and unfunded people writing blogs and homepages?

The really, really sad thing in this is that our democracy rests on information for every voter. We need information and we need the information-providing agents (media). Our democracy sucks if our media sucks. Our politics cannot be better than our media in the long term.
A good (quantitatively and qualitatively) supply of news is vital for our freedom, well-being and for our democracy.

Sven Ortmann

P.S.: I'm no right-wing "kill 'em all!" guy. In fact, I identify myself most with the German liberals (not comparable with U.S. "liberals"). BS can exceed my tolerance threshold, though.

1 comment:

  1. FDP voter? That's probably the German party I'm most sympathetic with, greens are alright, but I wouldn't touch the CDU or SPD with a twenty-nine and a half foot pole. Next time I'm in Germany I'll be sure to ask my German friends if they want to play paintball. Anyway, to the topic at hand.

    I believe the western media is the single most dangerous threat to freedom in the world. There is such a lack of critical thinking and analysis by "journalists" in the mainstream media. It basically serves as a propaganda platform for special interests, politicians, and big business. The enthusiastic sensationalism and blatant mainstream political bias of at least the American press makes it difficult for the average person to read through the hype and spin and understand what's actually happening. At least in the American press(my experience with european press is limited, but from what I can tell it isn't too disimilar), the only people ever interviewed are people who have vested political interests and partisan talking points. The media has become an echo chamber in which politicians scream and their message reverberates without criticism; or, if there is criticism, it consists of another echo from the opposing party. This is more propaganda than journalism.

    I give you as an example the western coverage of the South Ossetia conflict. It was shamelessly pro-Georgia the entire time. Saakashvili(sp?) was even on CNN for christ's sake! Pictures of Tskinvalli(sp?) were glossed over and footage was endlessly looped of the one apartment building in Gori that got hit by a small bomb. Not that I'm siding with Russia or anything, but compared to what the US would have done they were responsible and restrained.