An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘CNN’

Obamacare Lives, and CNN and Fox News FAIL

Yeah, there are a lot of things to talk about, and we thought we would break it down one by one.  The first part is that the Health Care Reform Act, aka. Obamacare, passed.  In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld the law.  One of the big names who was not expected to vote for the side of this bill was the swing vote they needed.  Justice John Roberts, a man who all the conservatives were sure was going to be against this, since he is a very conservative man, voted in favor of the Health Care Reform Act.  He chose to look at the law for what it is, and be impartial.  As one can imagine, the conservatives are up in arms about that.

Now, there are some issues that I personally have with the Health Care Reform Act. For one thing, the insurance mandate part is totally useless without a public option.  In fact, I do think that it does harm.  But, for what I have to look at, I will say, the liberal community should feel some pride.  I think we should have universal health care, but this is at least a step in the right direction, which is more than Obama has been able to do for the bulk of his presidency.  Of course, if he had actually fought for it, we might have the public option, but that is neither here nor there.

However, when the news broke about the ruling, there was a bit of a mix-up of information, and the source is a couple that you might not expect.  Fox News and CNN, when this ruling news broke, reported it wrong.  They reported that a 5-4 vote was in favor of it not passing.  That they ruled against it.  That’s a HUGE gaff for a news company to make.

Source Fed, a news organization who is both fun and informative about some oddball issues and some very hard news, had a very good point to make about this.  While this most certainly makes Fox News and CNN look stupid and like bad journalists, the problem of this does come from our culture of immediacy.  Granted, one can be quick and be thorough, which NBC poked fun at in a response from their PR person.  But when people want the information right then, at that moment, and not have to wait, there is a good point to be made that mistakes are going to be made.

The field of journalism is trying to find a place to exist in this new world, but perhaps the public does have some accountability to be had in regards to massive mistakes like this being made.

This is a huge issue, and a lot of people are celebrating, as they should be.  But this isn’t over.  This Reform Act is not good enough.  There needs to be more battle with this culture for universal health care.  Since I have no faith in the corrupt and bureaucratic politicians who could give a damn about the public, we have to push for this as a community.  Liberals must end their timidity and stand tall, demanding universal health care, something that will save America money, along with families money.

But given how absolutely dumb this country’s culture is, that might be dreaming a little bit beyond my ken.

The Truth about 24-Hour News Networks

This should be short but sweet. Here is a video telling the ultimate truth about what 24-hour networks are like.

Learn something?

Peace out,

Lefty

Amanda Knox and the Failure of the Media

It is getting a little bit too annoying, really.  When we are in a societal calamity.  The EU is in real economic trouble.  America’s economy is heading in the wrong direction again.  The Middle East is still in chaos.  There are problems that are everywhere.  The vote on Pebble Mine is just around the corner.  The Alaskan economy isn’t all that great right now either.  All of this is going on, and what does the media see fit to either have as “Breaking News” or as the “Top Story” is the story of Amanda Knox coming back to America.

The story goes that there is a girl named Amanda Knox.  She was an exchange student in Italy.  Her roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found with her throat slit.  Knox and her boyfriend at the time, were charged and found guilty for the crime.  That was four years ago.  The rest is history, until recently.  The verdict of her appeal acquitted her, and now she has returned home.  And what has the news seen fit to do – talk about it to death!  I am starting to agree with Jon Stewart about what 24-hour news networks are designed to do

24 hour news networks are built for one thing, and that’s 9/11, and the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatus that exists in this building and exists at the other 24-hour are perfectly suited to cover.  In the absence of that, they’re not just gonna say, ‘there’s not that much that’s urgent or important or conflicted happening today, so we are going to gin up, we are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism because we want you to continue watching us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when the news doesn’t necessarily warrant that type of behavior.'”

Really, this whole event how shined a spotlight, to me anyway, of something that really does need to be examined in the world of professional journalism – where the priorities are.  Stewart is absolutely right.  These networks won’t just admit that they don’t have anything that is worthwhile to talk about.  Thankfully, NPR, PBS, BBC, and the alternative media sources are doing the smart thing and giving this issue the attention that it deserves.  But really, when one examines this issue critically, it has to be pointed out that what does this matter?

What possibly contributions does this event give society.  What’s more, why does everybody care so much?  There is a greater societal problem that is displayed here – that the people of this country are starting to look less like an informed populace and more like Mike Judge’s creation, Idiocrisy.  When one examines what gets in the news anymore, and where the people tend to focus their attention, it is easy to see why the socially aware are starting to lose hope in the human race and their ability to make any productive change anymore.  This is not a key issue in this debate.  In fact, Amanda Knox is nothing more than a symptom, or even less than that, but a skin mark, on the problem that is the massive ball of corpses that is America and the priorities that this country has.  She is just a sign of what is to come in the media that has grown up around the corporations of this country.

Fox News may be the great white whale of journalism, but MSNBC and CNN are not innocent of what plagues Fox News – bad journalism that is intentionally made to seem much more important than it actually is.  Does anybody remember the Casey Anthony trial?  Or maybe you remember the example that Stewart gave in his article above, about how there was the press conference after Anthony Weiner was found out for having shown his weiner to a girl.  How when Pelosi said that she wasn’t going to talk about Weiner, but rather about jobs and the economy, everybody left.  These are just a few of the many examples of how these news networks are all completely ignoring the important issues.

There is another issue that seems to have been completely ignored by the media – Rick Perry and his massive political project/blunder – the Trans-Texas Corridor.  Put simply, it was a giant complex that was intended to route all major traffic to heavy population centers of Texas.  Costly, disruptive to private property, and just a giant waste, not to mention a very big bit of ugly business.  While it looks like Perry is losing some of the clout that he had, this issue has not been raised at all in any significant way.

See, this is the problem with the news – they seem to have a hard time reporting the news.  They seem to have it all mixed up that when you are charged with reporting the news to people, which means things that are of consequence happening in the local, state, national, or worldwide level.  Something like this Corridor would be a huge thing to talk about, especially with a candidate who bashes the federal government, but then goes around and does things like this.  Call it what you like, Perry, but government by any other name is still government.  That goes for the Ron Paul fans too.

But there is hope on the horizon.  The alternative media seems to be gaining traction.  More and more people are seeking out places where they can get the news and not have it be a corporate machine.  It used to be that just the eggheads were watching shows like FRONTLINE and listening to NPR.  It used to be that the corporate machine believed that nobody cared what those on the internet had to say.  But that isn’t true, not anymore.  Now, with YouTube, journalists having blogs, and several other blogs and vlogs being watched, the world of social commentary and journalism is growing.  This is a good thing.

In a world where the economy is heading in the wrong direction again, we need to have some voices who are above the sensationalist maw and are able to take the bag of snakes and lay them out straight.

Peace out,

Lefty

Oslo Tragedy Shows Different Side of Terrorism

There was an attack in Oslo, Norway, yesterday.  It was a tragedy, and the death toll right now is over 90 people.  Seven were killed in the car bombing, and 85 people were killed in the subsequent shooting at a camp for the local labor party that was 25 miles away from the car bombing.  Now, the moment that this happened, the media instantly started to wonder who it was, and the problem here is that they all wondered the same thing – was it a Muslim terrorist?  Well, it wasn’t an Islamic terrorist group, it was a lone man with some pretty hardcore beliefs.

The perpetrator of this heinous crime was a man by the named of Anders Behring Breivik.  He is 32 years old, and not a Muslim at all.  He is a Christian fundamentalist white nationalist.  When the media first reported this attack, some of the more level-headed mindset thought that this didn’t fit the MO of an Islamic terrorist group.  It targeted a government building, which doesn’t fit the pattern.  Usually, Islamic terrorists do their crimes in an area where they can maximize the casualties, kill as many people as possible.  Of course, several Muslim groups did come out after this event and take credit, but that is what they do.  They want the world to fear them as much as possible.

But the fact is that the media all jumped on the same bandwagon – that this had to be a Muslim group, that this had to be Al Qaeda or something like that.  On Facebook there were posts where people said that even if it wasn’t any of them, it was still them because they had inspired this kind of thing.  Well, that is an interesting perspective, because the fact is that white nationalist terrorism isn’t a new thing in this world at all.

One parallel that was made about this was comparing this event to the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh.  That’s a very good comparison.  It shares a lot of the same themes.  White nationalist, Christian fundamentalist, attacking a government building in order to deal a blow to a system they are radically against.  It is very similar in all of the ways that it can be.  But really, it is just the fact that people jumped on a bandwagon so quickly that says something pretty unpleasant about society that we have today.

The fact is that terrorism comes in all shapes an sizes.  From the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords to the Oklahoma City Bombing, people need to be aware that domestic terrorism is real, and it is often something that people don’t take seriously, but really should.  Because a common bit of vernacular that comes up is that “it is only Muslim terrorists who blow people up.”  No, wrong!  The fact is that domestic terrorism is infinitely more dangerous because it can’t be defended against.  Nobody could have predicted that this lone guy was going to do this.  Nobody could have foreseen him just deciding to kill people, including a bunch of kids, who didn’t agree with him.

There was a quote by somebody or other,

One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 people who have only interests.”

And what’s more, Rupert Murdoch’s groups, Fox News, and The Sun newspaper, didn’t report on the fact he was a Christian at all.  Not one report mentions that the god this guy worships is the same one that Fox News claims that all of America is based on.  I wonder how many conservative groups posted after the Oklahoma City Bombing that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian.  The fact is that people will all go crazy and will paint a button to put on a group of people, but they close their minds to that other group, to the other, more dangerous half of America.

This brings it to the part about Fox News.  Back when Glenn Beck was on their network, whenever one of their viewers would decide to follow his insane rhetoric and go out and do something, he would scream, and cry for non-violence.  Well, this is what happens.  When you write books and go on the news and tell people that killing other people who don’t agree with you is a perfectly acceptable way to handle things, stuff like this happens.

And where are those who believe that it is all Muslims now?  They aren’t anywhere.  They aren’t talking.  Or there are those who make posts on Facebook or other blogs about how it is Al Qaeda who inspired this kind of action.  And there are those who claim this was one guy.  Yeah, not true.  Take a look at Northern Ireland right now, where this kind of violence is flaring up right now.

And what’s more, the media doesn’t think critically.  Fox News and all of the conservative groups instantly jump on the bandwagon of an Islamic terrorist group, not even bothering to think that it might be somebody else.  It was ironic to listen to Keith Olbermann talk last night and have to make it very clear that it wasn’t an Islamic terrorist.  He shouldn’t have to be that clear, because the media shouldn’t be painting pictures already.

This is where Jon Stewart was right about the modern 24-hour news networks.  They are becoming sensationalist and lazy, not doing the very hardcore and very diligent reporting that groups like NPR, PBS, and BBC are famous for.  The thing that makes it worse is that people aren’t demanding something better from the news they watch.  They aren’t demanding a better coverage and being more level-headed.  They jumped on a bandwagon because it was easy, and rode that (Fox News is still riding it) until it became apparent that their preconceived notion was wrong.

The public has to start demanding something better of their news.  Fox viewers will never demand anything better.  They don’t have the integrity to demand something better.  But for all the rest of you who watch CNN and MSNBC, you have to start demanding something better.  Because reporting like this, is a shame upon the entire field of journalism

Peace out,

Eli

The Difference Between Corporate News and Real News

Fox News has had a big event that they published on their network as being one of the major campaign hits against the liberals.  Fox News Sunday had Jon Stewart on their network.  It was an interview with Chris Wallace.  This was a pretty cool interview to watch.  Thank goodness somebody on YouTube had the sense enough to post the interview.  Part one is here.  Part two is here.  This was a great catharsis for those of us who believe in the genuine media that it is supposed to be.  For those of us who believe in real reporting, who believe that political commentary can be combined with getting all the facts, it felt good to listen to Jon Stewart bash all of the corporate news networks.

Jon Stewart had a great quote about what he believes 24-hour news networks exist for.

 24-hour news networks are built for one thing, and that’s 9/11.  And the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatues that exists in this building and exists in the other 24-news hours is perfectly suited to cover.  In the absence of that, they’re not just gonna say ‘there’s not that much that’s urgent or important or conflicted happening today, so we’re going to gin up.  We are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism because we want you to continue watching us 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  Even when the news doesn’t necessarily warrant that type of behavior.'”

A long quote, yes, but absolutely correct, and horribly brutal against the networks who do 24-hour broadcasts.  Sure, I get my political commentary from Keith Olbermann (so glad he’s back!), Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Lawrenece O’Donnell, but there is a reason that all straight news that this reporter gets is from BBC or PBS Newshour.  The major corporate media is not designed for the kind of news that isn’t in conflict, isn’t sensational.  Because let’s face it – the news is boring.  To most people, who don’t care two craps what happens in the world, news is not something fun.

Watch the BBC news or PBS Newshour and you’ll see for yourself.  The news is generally delievered in a monotonous way that doesn’t seem all that entertaining.  The talk in a very low-key way.  They do this because the bulk of information that matters isn’t sensational.  It’s important, yes, but it’s often dull.   Talking about politics can be pretty fun.  Finding the funny side of things is the reason that Jon Stewart has a job in the first place.  But it also needs to be taken seriously, which is how O’Donnell, Maddow, and Olbermann tend to treat it.  But the fact is that raw news is rarely a lot of fun.

You can drive in your car and have NPR playing, and most times, you won’t listen all that hard.  It’s not a bad thing to be that way.  It’s the way of the world.  You perk up and turn the radio up when something really catches your interest.  That’s how people work.  There are different things that interest different people.  But to even listen to something on a topic you like in the monotonous way that NPR reporters talk takes an amount of dedication and, I guess it would be patience, that the bulk of people in this country don’t have.  So, how does the corporate media make up for this?  They sensationalize.

Does anybody remember the backlash after Anthony Weiner was found out for having sent images of his junk to other women?  The media went off their nut about this!  Jon Stewart brought this up as an example.  After he decided to capitulate to the six-year-old (in spirit) members of Congress and step down, Nancy Pelosi was going to make a press conference.  Everybody from the major media organizations was expecting her to blast Weiner (I think the only reason people got upset about this is because the guy’s name is Weiner).  They thought she was going to come out with both barrels blazing.  And what happened?  She decided not to let the six-year-old American audience rule her, and talk about things that matter, like jobs, the economy, stuff like that.  Stewart asked Wallace what happened after she said that –

What did everybody do? (Stewart?)
Left (Wallace)

Stewart went on to make another REALLY good point –

The embarrassment is that I am given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does.

Stewart went on the attack against Wallace, which was great.  It was great to listen to a guy who is openly a political satirist getting bitter and upset with being called biased.  He said that his bias first is comedy, next comes politics.  The problem with the corporate media like MSNBC, CNN, and Fox is that they go out of their way to make things exponentially bigger than they actually are.  Fox blew the Shirley Sharrod thing totally out of proportion.  Anderson Cooper on CNN has introduced stories in the most cataclysmic of tones that even his guests agree was nothing.  MSNBC has had Ed Schultz go off on tangents.  There is a reason that Rachel Maddow has such respect on that network – because she had an obsession with the fact, connecting dots, and getting the information to people.  I think she is the person who has done the least amoung of sensationalizing on MSNBC.

Stewart closed his interview stating that he has seen no significant change with how things are run in this country after the fall of this economy, which is a great point.

But the fact is that people believe that they are being given the correct news by the big corporate 24-hour networks, but they aren’t.  They are being given news that is sensational, and news that is often either blown out of proportion, or dumbed-down so that people won’t think about it too critically.  But people need to realize that that isn’t what the news is always, or in my opinion, even often, about.  There real reporters like my friend, Heather Aronno.  She did her first report on APRN today.  Here’s a link to it.  Check this it, it’s good stuff.  It’s fair reporting about a pretty nifty topic – teaching young people how filmmaking is done.  People think that all media is biased.  I agree, but not to the same extent that they believe it is biased.  I think true objective reporting isn’t possible, because nobody is completely objective, but I do also believe that the bias is not so big, and most reporters genuinely want to get all the facts, or as many as they can fit.

Peace out,

Eli

The Newspaper’s Job

There was a recent discussion that I had had with a young man here at the college.  Normally, speaking about one’s self in a professional way with a newspaper or media outlet is not generally acceptable, but in this case, there really was no other way to do this.  This young man had the belief that the college newspaper here at UAA was nothing more than junk.  His contention was that it was a joke, not worthy of even the slightest consideration other than the articles that are written by me.  This man didn’t seem to realize what he had said, and how horrible a thing that it is to say until it was said.

There is a contention among the politically motivated in this country on both the left and the right that the media’s job is to do something other than what it is doing.  People seem to believe that the media’s job is to report dark secrets, expose corruption, keep everybody accountable, and never let anything that they care about go unreported.  The media’s job, the new’s job, is not that.  The job of people in the news is to report on things of consequence.  That is really all it is.  It is to report on things that matter in the real world. 

“You know, when was the last time you turned on the news and you saw a story about how there were no massive fires in your town that day?  Or how there weren’t any horrific car accidents, or rapes, or murders, or how- that nobody was killed in Iraq today?  I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume, never really happened,” said Glenn Beck on his syndicated (and ending at the end of the year) talk show on the hopelessly biased network Fox News.  This line of thought was absolutely foolish in every single regard.  And the sad fact is that Fox News has brought up and issue that the aforementioned young man put into perspective- the fact that there is no real respect for the media these days.

It isn’t exactly a mystery that most people believe that the media is biased these day.  Even the great zions of straight reporting, like the BBC, NPR, PBS, etc. are considered biased.  Of course, since they are in favor of an open discussion and exchange of ideas and examining both sides, people generally tend to believe that they have a liberal bias.  Another false assumption in this country is the idea that there is a liberal media in the same way that there is a conservative media.  There isn’t.  But people believe that it is.  People believe that there is a hardcore effort to either sway people one direction or the other.  But that isn’t the case. 

The fact is is that most reporters and most news organizations that aren’t on the major networks (CNN, MSNBC, Fox) are not biased.  In fact, there are codes of ethics that are pretty clear about what a news organization is supposed to be.  Of course, say that to a typical American, and they won’t believe you.  That’s how it goes in this country.  It is people like the student mentioned at the top who are responsible for this belief that there is bias.  People like him are what is wrong with this country.

Left or right, the problem in this country is that everybody is trying to be a pariah for a cause.  And we have networks who cater to this image.  There are certain liberal pundits who are just as bad at tarnishing the image of fair and balanced (the real kind) news.  Every time that Ed Schultz is on television, I have a deep feeling of revulsion go through me when I listen to his clearly biased form of talking about political news. 

But then there are people like Rachel Maddow, who is dedicated to seeking the truth.  She has an obsession with facts that shows in her reporting.  She doesn’t miss details, and doesn’t let the fact that she has a bias influence how she looks into something.  She is one of those reporters that is in line with how Bill Moyer, my favorite journalist, said a reporter should be- having a bias, but is open about it, and still seeks the truth. 

The great reporters throughout history have all had bias.  True objective reporting is a myth.  Personal bias will influence what you do in one form or another if you get into the job of reporting for a news organization.  However, it is when you are able to work with your own bias, and are able to create something of substance, that you are making your job worthwhile.

And that is where it comes back to what was said at the top.  The job of the news isn’t to expose dark secrets, or corruption.  The job of the news is to talk about events.  Things of consequence that happen in our world.  And people who believe that the job of the news is to report on the dark going-ons, and to act as a hammer of justice, don’t realize that there is more to this world than politics.  There are a lot of things that happen, and it is the job of the media to look at all aspects of this world. 

And to this young man- I take great offense to what you said.  The young man mentioned that the only reason that he read the paper The Northern Light is simply because I write for it.  I mean this in the most sincere way when I ask him to stop reading the newspaper if that is all he reads it for.  Those who work for this paper work very hard.  We are all volunteers who are donating our time to this job.  We don’t have the biggest newspaper in the world, and our readership is very small.  However, that is not what matters.  What matters is the fact that we are trying.  We are doing our best.  And when we hear that somebody thinks that our paper is a joke, I honestly don’t want people who think that way to read my articles and to tell me that that is all they think the paper is worth.  I don’t want that kind of burden on my shoulders.

This paper means something to those who write for it.  We work hard.  If people think it is a joke, I would appreciate it if you kept that to yourself.

Peace out,

Eli

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