August 19, 2004
Reactions to "What if Everything Changed for American Journalists on September 11th?"
Here's my exchange with Washington Post reporter Michael Powell about his own re-thinking after 09/11, plus other reactions. Like: "I find myself a little disturbed by this talk. Are you arguing for censorship?" (I wasn't.) "Don't let 9-11 re-invent journalism," said one. No Rupture after 9/11, said others.
Back from vacation with lots to report about reactions to my last post, What if Everything Changed for American Journalists on September 11th?
Much that was adequate in my own understanding on September 10th, I found useless by the morning of the 12th; and people who say things like, “everything changed on nine eleven” are not so much September 11th people as they are struck by a strangeness recalled from the morning of the 12th. I am one of them. We think there was a rupture.
A rupture for journalists— or not? Responses varied along that fault. Michael Powell, New York bureau chief for the Washington Post, is someone I have talked with over the years. He sent me a piece he wrote two Sundays ago for the Post’s Outlook Section, after terror warnings for New York’s financial institutions were received. “It’s not an answer to your question, so much as a stab at some variety of response.” Powell in his e-mail:
My sense is that clearly we were all in some fashion changed by that day. This is not to argue that it changed, for example, my larger politics and concerns. I’ve written a lot since that day on the erosion of civil liberties, on the sad decline of Little Pakistan in Brooklyn, and on several particularly egregious individual cases. At the same time, well, of course that day changed me, and my sense of terrible possibility.
And he attached a copy of his Outlook essay: “Recognizing the Once and Future Threat: Where Some Feel Safer In Denial.” (Aug. 8, 2004)
On Monday morning, as reports emerged that the Bush administration may have overstated the clear and present danger of the recent alert, my e-mail inbox filled with messages from friends and neighbors. I read their eloquent talk of Orwell and disinformation, and their expectations that those among us who had been worried must feel better now.
I called an old friend on this, writing him back that all this good cheer felt like foolish denial. He responded after a while with the suggestion that those of us — myself and his wife, among others — who came within the shadow of the falling towers on Sept. 11 had acquired an intimate view of terror. The question, which he was generous enough to leave entirely open-ended, is whether such experience renders us captives of irrational fear, or allows us to discern the terrible shape of a possible future.
A more intimate view of terror. That interests me. I think it exists, but it is neither restricted nor guaranteed to those who were there, or “came within the shadow of the falling towers.” Or those who lost someone in the attacks. It’s more a matter of imagination— private and public. Powell writes about 09/11: “the day seemed to open a clarifying window into a realm of terrible possibility. To know what could come meant confronting all manner of questions, from how to defend ourselves to where my family might live.”
Here’s the rest of our e-mail exchange:
Rosen: “Am I so confident of my own rationality in such matters?” I like that graceful way of putting it. To me it’s amazing how many people equate “changed my thinking” with “abandoned my beliefs.” Any political scientist would tell you that people abandon core beliefs very rarely, and so if that’s the test of whether a decisive change has been felt, it’s poor test design at work.
Powell: You’re right, to my mind, to draw a distinction between core belief and a more subtle shift in how one views the world. (Although a neo-con might argue that a change in world view can lead to a change in core belief—the liberal who was mugged by reality trope). I tend to place myself in the second category, the subtler shift in world view, although that varies day to day.
I received a great outpouring of emails after my Outlook piece, and I was intrigued by how many writers assumed that I was now a card-carrying Republican, which is not the case.
The difficulty of raising such a queston with an American journalist is complicated. As you’re very well aware, we are trained, ritually and habitually, to deny harboring a world view and a politics. It’s a conceit, but it runs deep. It perhaps has virtues as well as drawbacks, but it tends not to encourage such reflection.
Rosen: We agree that to deny harboring a world view and a politics is a professional conceit, but common in American journalism; that it runs deep; that it has virtues as well as drawbacks. To reckon with one but not the other is unwise. We agree, as well, that having to maintain such a strange state of innocence—no world view, no politics going on here—tends not to encourage deep reflection.
Some people think the press should take the historic step and abandon the conceit of No Worldview Whatsoever. But in favor of what?
“Admit your biases” is fine as a slogan, and there is a basic honesty there that might help. But as you said “we are trained, ritually and habitually, to deny harboring a world view and a politics.” And there are costs to that training, which to some degree is miseducating journalists and cutting them off from the debate, the discussion— frankly, some of the disgust with their work.
Suppose it were junked— the denial, and the training in it, the habit of saying: we’re just the disinterested observer and take no view of our own. I wonder what would be the problems—practical, political, professional, personal—if journalists were trained to develop a world view, one that was right for their project in journalism, for it claims, its commitments. Seems to me if you are conscious in trying to develop it, you can more easily disclose it.
Powell: At one level, the cult of objectivity always has struck me as fundamentally immature as an intellectual position. Subjectively, during the past few years, I’ve found it incredibly refreshing to read the British papers, where journalists make a cleaner breast of their politics. On the other hand, some of the deepest and best investigative reporting comes from the American tradition, in part because that tradition forces reporters to wrestle with conflicting points of view.
I worked as a tenant organizer for several years in the 1980s and a sense of political engagement carried me into journalism. I can’t imagine not caring about the issues I cover. That said, in the course of time, I’ve learned that passions must be leavened with rigor. So we learn to challenge our biases, or so we hope, right?
An example: When I moved to Washington and began covering District politics in 1996, I found that liberals had nothing to say of interest. They had for complicated reasons simply abdicated. The only sustained critiques of the District’s politics, economics and corruption came from conservative analysts, black and white. [End e-mail exchange]
Here’s David Weinberger talking back to the same conceit Powell talked about:
“Imagine if American journalists could write about the advance of US troops in Najaf without having to hide the fact that they’re surrounded by Marines who are protecting them from Iraqis who are trying to kill them, that they hope the US wins the battle, that they understand the US’s motives better than Sadr’s, that they know the daily US briefings are full of shit but at least they’re in English, that if push came to shove, they’d pick up a rifle and fire at the Iraqis rather than die with the Marines, but they’d never pick up a rifle and fire at the Marines. Everyone knows this anyway. Why try to hide it?”
Cori Dauber, author of the weblog Rantingprofs, is an academic interested in the media coverage of the war on terror. Not a journalist, but she studies what they do and say. She makes an astute observation when she says: “the press never seems all that interested in looking in the mirror except under circumstances where they already know they’re going to like what they’ll see.”
She gives an example: “It was interesting to me that in the aftermath of September 11th, say, the year or so after, there were all sorts of panels that I saw (C-SPAN) looking back. But those panels were inevitably journalists looking back on their performance on the day itself, and happily valorizing themselves.” (My italics.) I have witnessed this too: journalists tell war stories, and that qualifies as “looking back.”
Powell tells a good story about looking back. He goes to the public library about five or six weeks after the attacks, hoping to work on an unrelated story about the Jersey Journal. Leafing through some “yellowed bits of newsprint,” he comes upon stories about “a different plot, the near-catastrophic plan hatched in the summer of 1993 by followers of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.” Their strike, planned for July 4 of that year, would have sent suicide truck bombs to blow up the United Nations building, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge.
Reading these pieces, he is struck by how little the story meant to him then. “This conspiracy registered then as another of those obscure plots with an obscure one-eyed sheik out of central casting.” Now this is the sentence that interests me:
Only in the fall of 2001, sitting in that library with a smoke plume spiraling up from the hole that was Ground Zero, did that long-ago plot take coherent and frightening form in my mind’s eye.
That’s part of what I meant by, “We have to start the story over.” Powell is writing about his sense of how near to catastrophe were were then— and are now. In this specific sense (how near?) I think everything has changed for Michael Powell of the Washington Post. Cori Dauber again:
In my research I found example after example of people associated with journalism saying that they were finding their calling again, in those first months. Just take a look at this article for a few examples. They recognized that part of the reason the American people were so shocked to discover the rage “out there,” part of the reason for agonized questioning (“why do they hate us?”) was that [journalists] had failed us in the ’90s.
And realization of a profound failure can have profound effects. Here are some other reactions to my Aug. 13 post:
“My critique must now be founded in two areas rather than one.” Blogger Daily Pundit gives an example of how he was changed.
9/11 changed my world-view from one of business as usual to America at war, and everything is—and must be—viewed through that prism. Do I approve of all the new security “programs?” No, not at all— in fact, I despise many aspects of them. But my critique must now be founded in two areas rather than one. Not just, “Does this infringe on civil liberties?” but also, “is this infringement effective in making Americans safer, and is the tradeoff between the infringement and the safety tolerable in the changed circumstances of wartime post 9/11?
Mark McPherson in comments here:
So what do you propose? That we be “protected” from being frightened by being kept artificially blind by a knowing press? You think too little of the ability of the audience to be discriminating in their thinking. The Press is continually reporting, and then telling the audience what the reporting means, as if people didn’t already do this for themselves. I have zero confidence in the ability of the press to find its way through the maze of truth, hidden truth, willful ignorance and deceit your “Changed America” envisions.
Report the news without sensationalism and wild speculation and flippant analysis. We’ll figure out for ourselves what it all means.
Michael McCanles, who calls himself a “retired academic Renaissance literary scholar and critic with an amateur’s interest in military matters” at comments here.
(1) War works as much by threats of attack as by attack. Movements of troops, visible manifestations of military planning, readiness, etc.—are in fact modes of communicating threats.
(2) The “protection racket” factor: Terrorism is a present act intended to remembered in the future. It’s message is the following: “If you do what I want I will protect you from attack, i.e., from myself. If you don’t, I won’t.”
And those are two reasons I asked: Are journalists who inform citizens of the most powerful and influentual nation in the world participants in the war on terror? This prompted a response from journalist and weblogger Ed Cone:
First, let’s define “the war on terror.” Does it mean whatever a particular administration says it means?
If so, is it just the press that should fall into line, or should political discussion of the war’s direction be silenced, too? Let’s be clear on the differences between patriotism and rote agreement with any particular government policy, during wartime or not.
Cone added as an aside: “I’m a little tired of the ‘I was there’ argument on 9/11. Physical proximity to the events does not confer moral authority on the witness.” I agree with that. On the evidence of this column, Cone supports the “no fundamental change called for,” and no rupture interpretation, which was a definite theme in the responses.
JD Lasica spoke up strongly in comments:
My guess is that the “we’re at war!” crowd would like the press to be nothing more than an adjunct of the U.S. government. (Fox News, with the American flag on anchors’ lapels, long ago fell into line.) I can think of nothing else so dangerous. Isn’t this docile, deferential approach to authority what got us into our current mess in Iraq? That’s certainly one of the takeaways of Howard Kurtz’ expose of newsroom practices that appeared in the Washington Post this week.
Some perspective, please: There were 61 million lives lost in World War 2, without any wholesale changes in press freedoms or redefinition of journalism. Tragically, 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11 (thousands more in Iraq, but that war has had nothing to do with terrorism until recently).
I had also said “modern terrorism incorporates modern journalism,” and that I found it “impossible to believe that people in the news tribe are unaware of their tribe’s incorporation by terror, their inadvertent, unwished-for status as accessories to the act.”
Over at BOP News, where I cross posted my piece, a reader named Simon said: “I find myself a little disturbed by this talk. Are you arguing for censorship? Should the news media be prevented from reporting acts of terror?” In a later comment he decided I was talking about self-censorship: “he is asking journalists to restrict what they print.”
Actually, I wasn’t. That is all imported into the post. I limited myself to the possible benefits of journalist’s re-explaining the world to themselves in the wake of 09/11, of going back over the story that tells them what they are doing to see if it still fits— and whether anything crucial was left out.
But how did Simon (and others) get there—censorship follows!—so easily? Matt Stoller of BOP had part of the answer. Apparently if you say things like “journalism changed after 09/11” you sound like a fellow traveler with Fox, and with the Right’s work-the-refs view that “journalists are unpatriotic and bad because they show bad stuff on TV which undermines Amerca,” as Stoller put it. Use language like “duty to the nation” and you sound like a winger.
Well… I think any journalist of any persuasion would have been wise to wear a little American flag on their lapel after 09/11, and even wiser to explain what the symbol meant in that context, going on air with the news. If necessary, fight about the flag and what it says when worn in a gesture of solidarity.
But I’m also intrigued with the idea of the flag-less press, which shows no signs of membership, no solidarity, except the fraternity of fellow observers.
The pseudonymous Simon, who occasionally posts long, critical responses to posts at BOP news, went on in this vein:
To say I’m shocked by Jay’s piece is an understatement. I am still unsure if Jay really means to say all of this, but while he’s posted a few responses, Jay has not explicitly corrected people on his comments who have given this interpretation.
And he was not the only one shocked. Shaula Evans: “I, too, hope I have grossly misunderstood the gist of Jay’s article.” (See also this book review in BOP.) Another BOP reader, Sasha, hit the mark with this comment, which I basically agree with:
It is easy to fulminate against the press and cry out that a new role must be found. It is very, very hard to figure out what that role would be. How would a reporter decide what should be reported and what should go unsaid for the good of the country? Indeed, how can the reporter be so sure what the good of the country is when we are all engaged in profound debate over that very question. No reporter, professor or politician truly knows the answer, and it is very dangerous to allow them to act at their discretion as if they did.
The phrase, “allow them to act,” shows us that social control, and not only the difficulty of knowing the public good, is at work here. JD Lasica again: “For a news organization, is it more patriotic to learn about the ease with which once can smuggle nuclear materials into this country and then report it only to federal officials (who are the ones guilty of lax oversight in the first place) — or to disseminate that information to the public?”
Stephen Waters—blogger, newspaper publisher and PressThink reader—thought the big lesson was: “Don’t let 9-11 re-invent journalism.”
Journalism may need to change, but through no special impetus from the 9-11 attacks. It is the close proximity of the 9-11 attacks to the author that creates the impression that it is an event of such magnitude that journalistic roots should be shaken. Much larger calamities come easily to mind…. The processes that make up fair, full, balanced, and useful reporting have been forged through lifetimes of hard experience and serious retrospection and ought to be changed for good reason rather than out of fear, vengeance, or proximity to the 9-11 disaster.
Fear, vengeance and “I was there, dammit” being bad reasons, I wonder if searching introspection, agonized re-assessment and a radical questioning of received views in the profession are good reasons for some re-arranging of journalism at the roots. In comments, Waters is optimistic that “the positive effect to journalism from blogs over time will far outweigh any wrenching navel-gazing resulting from 9-11.” Navel-gazing is clearly the category my post belongs in, from his perspective. We’ll put Walters in the No Rupture column.
Michael Hollihan at Half Bakered (a Memphis blog) wrote a lengthy, twisty response:
Somewhere between the Forties and the Seventies, a conservative press sympathetic to those in power and willing to accept censorship for the sake of the national good (inside the “America” container) became an oppositional, liberal press divorced from an “America” container that many viewed with disdain. That arm’s-length distance, that freedom of movement and distance, worked because the wars and enemies were “out there” somewhere.
Even as modern terrorism moved closer and closer, the distance remained. I think many to most Americans expected that the press might collapse back to a Forties-style, pro-America, compliant model. It hasn’t and the problems with that outsider viewpoint are becoming clearer every day. It’s a component of the success of Fox News, in my opinion. I also think it’s part of what drove the earlier success of talk radio — a desire to hear from a press that considers itself American.
“A desire to hear from a press that considers itself American.” Now what do we make of that? Here’s what Hodding Carter III made of it in his fiery speech before journalism professors in Toronto (Aug. 5, 2004):
We practiced journalism with zeal and, occasionally, foolhardy abandon. We took up the implicit demands—the implicit responsibility inherent in the First Amendment—and let people know our editorial mind when most of them would have happily been spared that opportunity. We covered our region, warts and all.
And we participated in the life and civic causes of our town—Greenville, Mississippi—with avocational fervor. We saw ourselves as citizens as well as journalists. We saw ourselves not simply as a mirror reflecting what was happening in the community, or as its critics, but as indivisible from it, a piece of the community’s fabric.
Indivisible from: there’s a journalism ethic with long roots. But how well does it fit with modern, cosmopolitan, “without fear or favor” press think? Here is how Carter concluded that speech:
More to the point, we are a democracy in danger, expressly because of the vast gulfs that separate us from each other. Most particularly, both media and the academy stand too far apart.
This was a luxury not much given to small-town journalists of my early years. We knew we shared a common destiny with what are now termed “markets.” Folks, we still do.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links….
Jeff Jarvis has some questions: Journalism at eye-level (Aug. 21)
Do we admit we are human and have a human reaction to the event? Do we allow ourselves to root for our side in this war — which requires recognizing that we are at war and what side we are on? And if we don’t — if we act as if we do not have our own worldviews, as Jay puts it — doesn’t that too often end up perverting our coverage so, in a futile and misguided effort to be objective, we try to be fair to terrorists (did anybody worry after 1933 about being fair to Hitler?)? Just because you have a worldview doesn’t mean you have to do nothing but argue for it; it doesn’t mean you can’t ask tough and uncomfortable questions; it only means that your questions have some context.
This is really about admitting that we are human. As a human being, you must have a reaction to 9/11 and to deny it, to hide it, is to lie to those to whom you are trying to be truthful, your public. To instead be human, and admit your reaction and the worldview it reshapes, is to give a context to what you say so your public can better judge it. Isn’t that more honest? Isn’t that thus better journalism?
Ed Cone responds to this post: “Before 9/11, journalists had an obligation to be fearless and tell the truth and not screw up national security. Those obligations only deepened in the aftermath. What changed was perhaps the complacency of the profession. We need to be careful — not to get our soldiers and civilians killed, but also not to allow our government to act without accountability in the name of security.”
Don’t miss The Revealer’s coverage of the resignation of Deal Hudson, President Bush’s adviser and liason to Catholics. “Hudson’s influence is a truly big story the secular press should have brought to us four years ago. It’s not too late,” writes Editor Jeff Sharlet.
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit back on Aug. 13: “ROSEN has a number of thoughts on how the press didn’t change after 9/11, and what that’s likely to mean for the future. He certainly captures some of the things that have frustrated me, and many other bloggers.”
Earlier PressThink post on things related: This Summer Will Tell Us If We’re Serious: Tom Bettag Brings Realism Before the Tribe of Murrow.
Developing into a must read is TomDispatch.com, sponsored by the Nation Institute, compiled, edited and frequently written by Tom Engelhardt, an editor in publishing houses for the last 25 years, specializing in serious nonfiction on political and cultural themes. He wrote The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War era. I know Tom. He knows a lot of stuff. He’s against the war. He sees himself as “antidote to the mainstream media.” He’s in favor of good writing that is also angry writing. And he’s an editor, so he edits himself.
Englehardt on the missing stories from Iraq.
See this dissent from the Kerry convention’s unified front on the Iraq war, from Englehardt and one of the writers whose books he has edited, Jonathan Schell, also of The Nation.
Writer, blogger and Reason contributor Matt Welch, from Sept. 2003, Blogworld: The new amateur journalists weigh in (Columbia Journalism Review):
… Like just about everything else, blogging changed forever on September 11, 2001. The destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon created a huge appetite on the part of the public to be part of The Conversation, to vent and analyze and publicly ponder or mourn. Many, too, were unsatisfied with what they read and saw in the mainstream media. Glenn Reynolds, proprietor of the wildly popular InstaPundit.com blog, thought the mainstream analysis was terrible. “All the talking heads … kept saying that ‘we’re gonna have to grow up, we’re gonna have to give up a lot of our freedoms,’” he says. “Or it was the ‘Why do they hate us’ sort of teeth-gnashing. And I think there was a deep dissatisfaction with that.” The daily op-ed diet of Column Left and Column Right often fell way off the mark…
Welch’s sense then was that The Conversation was not going to be opened up by Big Journalism, which participated in closing it down. Bloggers soon grabbed the momentum in opinion writing. See for purposes of reflection today Matt Welch at his weblog back in December, 2001: Two Ships Passing in the New Media Night.
Posted by Jay Rosen at August 19, 2004 4:58 PM
This is an interesting set of responses you've gathered. The comment from Sasha comes very close to my view that framing the duty of journalism in terms of national service only compounds the problem when we recognize that we are at least two nations with mutually exclusive views of threat, security and appropriate domestic adjustments.
I would also add that for me the American nation includes a commitment to Enlightenment values. That means we support the country when it is right and try to correct its course when we think it is wrong. Many present day Americans clearly disagree with that stance.
It strikes me that the tired, undescriptive, and to my mind wrong-headed phrase "war on terror" can hardly be excluded from this search for what has changed since 9/11.
Some think we are at war with al Quaeda. Some think we are at war with all Muslims. Some think we are at war with Wahabbists. Some think we are at war with anyone who happens to live near strategic resources. Some think we are at war with people who hate our freedom. Some think we are at war with people who hate our middle east policy.
Different definitions of threat require different AND MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE strategies.
From my perspective prioritizing Iraq undermined the search for al-Quaeda and led to subcontracting it out to the Northern Alliance. If we are to defeat the al-Quaeda movement ideologically, invading middle eastern countries exactly how not to go about it.
Obviously the PNAC formula argues otherwise, though the pretense that the road to peace in Israel and Palestine goes through Baghdad surely can be safely laid to rest at this point.
The point I'm lumbering toward is that "reporting" is not an effective site for the nation or its interests to be defined. Surely that should be and is done by policy makers, regional experts, and strategic thinkers. Today, our competing sets of policy makers, regional experts, and strategic thinkers live in opposed and mutually exclusive worlds. That is a daunting task for a journalist to deal with. To my mind, we are nearly in a state of ideological civil war. What are the duties of the press in a time of civil war?
Perhaps we might ask for more historically informed journalism on the development of the party system in the US and its changing function with shifts in media technology?
Markos at daily Kos sees web-based Democratic party affiliated organizations as inevitably displacing the ineffective and out-dated party apparatus in the very near future. The telephone and typewriter era parties we have now just can't compete.
In what ways do party interests tend to trump national interest? In what ways do they overlap, intersect, or contradict one another?
If each side thinks the other is actively endangering the nation it is difficult to compromise or forgive. How should the press respond to such a situation?
Isn't media deregulation at least as epochal as 9/11 in this context?
It is hard to think of an answer that doesn't include the construction of competing media systems that promote and work through the implications of the competing world views as is clearly happening on talk radio and in the blogosphere's division of labor. In that context, it is also easy to predict that the traditional definition of the media as neutral observers will constantly be interpreted as collaboration with the enemy within, enabling the enemy without--by both sides. I don't see any exit for the press short of an exit from the two-nations-in-one situation we currently find ourselves in.
Or seeking employment in one of the avowedly partisan media systems that have been constructed over the last twenty years.
A more intimate view of terror.
I think it exists, too. I think it needs to be understood and examined, not only for what we've seen, but because of what has been predicted and gone unheeded
as inevitable for decades.
I think it is a "lessons learned" question, rather than a change in core beliefs that derives from that intimate view, that is important. It may be a greater understanding of what violence as propaganda is. It might mean a greater sensitivity or awareness to its impact, not just first-order effects but second and third order (or more) as well. It might be a greater desire for order and security (the liberal that has been mugged trope?). It might also be the loss of innocence, naivety, or idealism that results from living through an act of willful senselessness.
To reckon with one but not the other is unwise. We agree, as well, that having to maintain such a strange state of innocence--no world view, no politics going on here--tends not to encourage deep reflection.
Some people think the press should take the historic step and abandon the conceit of No Worldview Whatsoever. But in favor of what?
I agree more with the idea that journalism clings to a supra-national worldview conceit than a "No Worldview Whatsoever" conceit. Perhaps more an All Worldview, than a No Worldview. It may be important to understand what your conceits are when being reflective.
I could be wrong about the journalistic Worldview stereotype. Perhaps it is BBC's All Worldview, CNN International's No Worldview, New York Time's a New Yorker's Worldview, NPR's My America Wrong Worldview and Fox New's My America Right Worldview.
..., Dauber wonders what happened to the heightened sense of calling the press felt in the months after the attacks.
That deserves a link back to This Summer Will Tell Us If We're Serious: Tom Bettag Brings Realism Before the Tribe of Murrow
, and this quote from the 24th Annual Ralph McGill Lecture
, "I know a guy who was on one of those government terrorism commissions who used to say I ought to talk to him. I never did." I was busy, not just with Bill and Monica but with other things as well. . .Anyway, I never wrote about the terrorist threat to this country. I was negligent. ‘But I was not alone. The press in general did a miserable job preparing the American people for what happened on September 11,’ Cohen said."
I doubt that those that advocate for no change, are advocating for repeating the same failure. But isn't that what they are doing? Let's keep the same model, but do it better? Do what better? What are the lessons learned?
No one plans to fail, but many fail to plan. Was a failure of 9/11 the "No Worldview Whatsoever" conceit that could not comprehend, or warn a nation's public, of a nationalistic threat? Is it the news value of watchdog journalism that dedicated resources to Condit's cavorting rather than Cohen's failure?
If the Iraq war is a distraction in the war on terror, is the media being irresponsible by being distracted by it?
Sasha's comment is both insightful and naive. Naive because she fails to go on to recognize that reporters and editors decide what should be reported and what should go unsaid every day, whether for the good of the country or their business interests. Naive because it denies the concept of a 4th Establishment press without expressly stating that a necessary change in the journalistic Worldview. So why not ask in a public forum if those interests should not recognize that journalists are participants in the war on terror - defined as a worldwide struggle for democracy, freedom and markets - or something else?
I'm not sure why liberal journalists would not want to win that struggle, might announce it and develop a worldview to map reality to succeed in that struggle, and then report on the effectiveness of efforts by newsmakers involved in that struggle.
Ben: These friends find it strange that all the victims have somehow become American, both in the press coverage and in the formal funeral observances. Doesn't bringing nation and journalism together also carry with it blinders that may misleadingly domesticate terror or erase non-American aspects of the world before our eyes?
An eloquent point, eloquently stated. I'm trying to remember how other countries' media covered terrorist attacks in their country when foreigners/Americans were killed - especially if they were the intended target albeit the minority of the victims (as in the African embassies, for example). That might be an interesting contrast.
I agree that America circled its wagons after the 9/11 attack. Your international 9/11 worldview is well taken.
sbw: That presumes that the Iraq war IS a distraction in the war on terror.
I wrote it with the presumption that some journalists have come to that conclusion, right or wrong, but reasonably. And it was really meant as a question for those journalists.
I personally think it would be irresponsible not to report the struggle in Iraq as part of the war on terror. I'm saddened that the struggle in Afghanistan is not reported more.
I'm frustrated that the struggle in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is not reported better. I'm frustrated that Turkey has fallen into a journalistic hole.
I wish that we as Americans, including myself, were better informed about Arab culture and history since WWI. The reporting on the GWOT seems uninterested in framing current events with more than a superficial nod to history - perhaps to appear disinterested, perhaps diffident to venture past a positivistic view.
If I had a choice, I would choose less of the celebrity justice/tabloid news to make room for more of the above. But I think that whatever changed after 9/11 has changed back to pre-9/11, and I don't think there has been much learning from in the journey back to where we were journalistically. It reads like we're heading back to Condit and the summer of 2001 all over again.
While I agree with much of what Tom Grey has to say, I think it is out of place in this subject (otherwise, I'd have said some of it).
I think, as I mentioned in the previous threat, that the press needs to think about events that are far from normal, and consider those situations. The reason is that far from normal events actually happen, and since they are relatively unthinkable, people are often not prepared- especially mentally. A lot of the emergency organizations have considered these kinds of scenarious - has the media? Has the media asked if public safety groups are ready for these events? Does the media go on the exercises?
The "War on Terror" so far has done little that makes special requirements of the press.
I bring up examples where there are toughter problems:
-Suppose highly credible word leaks to one outlet that there is a nuke under Manhattan, what do you do?
-If terrorists attack with contagious biological weapons, preventing panic is usually important for the citizenry, as are quarantines, roadblocks, evacuation routes, etc. Does the press accept a request to hold off on something juicy that could contribute to the panic?
-People in part of town start falling to the ground and dying quickly. Others run from the scene, some not making it far. Panic develops in the periphery of live people. What's happening? What should be reported?
-If Washington, D.C. disappears in a nuclear explosion, what does it mean (other than a shortage of beltway bandits and politicians)? People around the country demand retaliation. The government (if one exists) has its own ideas. What does the press do?
-Like today, there is a war and election on simultaneously. The press very much wants to get rid of the incumbent. How much spiking and twisting of news is done to aid the press' goal?
Okay - the last one doesn't fit the discussion. Just feeling ornery.
Side comments... there are some remarks above I wanted to answer...
JD Lasica writes:My guess is that the "we're at war!" crowd would like the press to be nothing more than an adjunct of the U.S. government. (Fox News, with the American flag on anchors' lapels, long ago fell into line.)
This is ludicrous. Fox, always with an eye on the bottom line, chose a patriotic look and flags on the anchors. Its embeds actually stayed with the troops (unlike a number of other outfits, who stayed away from them). It is more friendly to the administration that the rest of the mainstream press, but that is hardly being an adjunct of the U.S. Government. If nothing else, O'Reilly, the most highly rated cable news guy, is quite independent (and a royal pain in the rear in my opinion). I watch Fox a lot and what I see is a lot of cases where both sides (assuming a dichotomous issue) get a fair airing. SBVT attacks Kerry, one of their spokesman and one of Kerry's get's time to speak.
Furthermore, I've seen no evidence (other than the music and the flag pins if they still have them) that Fox has changed post 9-11.
Stoller's ""journalists are unpatriotic and bad because they show bad stuff on TV which undermines Amerca," is a charicature of right wing views
Only in very special cases have I have argued that the Abu Ghraib pictures shouldn't have been shown because of their inflamatory nature to potential enemies, not the American people (this gets conditional in detail - for example, were they going to come out anyway?). Meanwhile the Kerry camp has filed a suit to stop the SBVT from running their ads.
A journalist who is inherently a transnational is going to have trouble being patriotic, since the philosophy is against having fealty to one country. That's also true for a farmer.
I want my journaliists to feel part of America, no part of "the world" and there are a lot of complaints that I have heard that journalists act like the latter. If your rights are affirmed by the first amendment then it seems appropriate that you consider your loyalty to be to the USA.
I would argue, I would hope that the left would agree, that some things should not be said or shown because presenting them would hurt the nation in a way significant enough to justify their suppression (or delay).
The press itself decided not to adequately cover the SBVT press conference on May 5 - for no reason I can see other than coverage would hurt Kerry.
"It occurs to me that the abstraction, or national frame of our discussions on media gate-keeping may play a part in how our views of what gets covered could differ so markedly."
Any abstraction, which by definition frames the starting viewpoint to begin with and the inputs and outputs that proceed from that starting point.. ..Well any abstraction WILL PLAY A PART in views (whether they are in agreement or disagreement doesn't matter a lick).
How big a part depends on how much bias is attached to the abstraction.
The meme that eliminating bias is a negative, therefore, would be one of the most biased and self-serving views a journalist would attempt to posit. Or Journalists, if you prefer (or my preference: pseudo-journalists on blogs).
"Consequently, I bridle when it is said that "the print media" is dominated by Democratic opinion. In the midwest/Illinois region, that is objectively untrue."
I read the Sun Times mainly, but that was prior to age 14 when we moved from Chi-town and, iirc, I mainly read sports and comics anyhoo. Similarly, Columbus Dispatch is only remaining paper.
So what? I'm eagerly awaiting some explanation from pseudo-Ben or anybody, about that 12 to 1 ratio, and the implications. (Just getting back into reading these threads, in case that has been discussed rather than avoided. The comments being almost entirely from those pseudo-enlightened by their own definition, I may have a hard time doing more than skimming...)-;
"Has anyone seen surveys of the personal politics of newspaper owners and editors?"
It doesn't matter as much as you would like, liar-Ben. There has, apparently, been a balance reached that owners have outta necessity largely ceeded editorial control to Libertarian's and those with Lobotomies, in return for being allowed to corner the marketspaces.
Iow, I believe the owners decided ownership was more important than editorial input, and they couldn't manage to have it both ways.
Just like reporters can't have it both ways:
A 12 to 1 ratio is a good thing, and bias is actually a good thing in reporting.
Well, actually they can have it both ways and do, but some will notice.
By way of example:
"By the way, based on Japanese news coverage ALL my Japanese friends are convinced that Gearge W. Bush is toast. Kerry will obviously be elected the next president because so many things have gone wrong the last three years."
It would probably not cross your mind that friends of somebody falsely-playing the role of "Ben Franklin" would likely be as stupid as the imposter himself, would it "Ben"...??
Nor would it cross the minds of any of you who have gotten a EL-Lobotomy would notice that not all of the things that have gone wrong past 3 years can be layed at President Bush's doorstep.
Well, again, the meme could be floated and is. Some see past it, some don't.
"I'm sure it will amuse several of you that I spend quite a lot of time trying to persuade them, that, no, for reasons that escape me..."
"They've been a little frightened by US nationalism since 9/11, so they're not shocked by the idea."
Yeah, the U.S. protecting it's citizens would be shocking to some.
"But I always have the feeling that they don't really believe me."
The are, perhaps, smarter than I gave them credit for...;-D
"The ruling party is militantly pro-Bush, but most of the news coverage sends the message that the US is not getting what it wants, that American interests are generally being reversed, rather than advanced.
Alliance with Bush actually suits Koizumi quite well. He's been taking a much more unapologetically nationalist line about a lot of things. The war on terror fits in to his agenda perfectly."
Which is basically the same scam the World Press is doing on President Bush.
Funny you can see the scam in the Japanese media, but not the World Press, pseudo-"lover of freedom".
"I might add that the Japanese response to the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks was actually very similar to the US response to 9/11 in terms of social psychology."
Yeah, that psychology being seeing murderers as people to be dealt with.
Funny people who are almost completely and entirely stupid are attempting to claim an "enlightened" view would be otherwise.
I guess seeing murderers as people to be dealt with just isn't rocket-science ENOUGH for some people to even understand.
Nup, I'm not gonna be likely to stomach much more on this thread..
"I wouldn't be so self-satisfied."
Ha! I don't remain self-satisfied for long, which is how I learn faster than stupid people like you, Ben.
"What my friends can't believe is that Americans could possibly think the way you do."
Let them talk to me, and I'll make believers outta 'em. Maybe not believers, in the sense you know the term... Believers in the sense that they could, at least, believe somebody could talk the way I do. You wouldn't want that tho, would ya, pseudo-Ben...?
"They are particularly mystified by the claim that we are "defending American citizens" in Iraq. Their problem is with you, not me."
It's been noted before that they wouldn't be your friends, if they looked at things logically. So of course their problem is not with you, you ex-pat.
"The response to the sarin gas attacks was a new police attitude that members of all religious groups are guilty until proven innocent regardless of having no connection with previous threats other than some form of religious belief. "
I'm not familiar enough. But I would guess this is your usual lies and exaggerations. My guess is that the Japanese Police have noticed that "innocent until proven guilty" is an ideal worth dying for, yet not everybody bording a plane or subway is necessarily innocent either.
"The second response was a rise in nationalism driven by veteran's groups to revise Japanese history and claim in official government approved high school history textbooks that they didn't invade Manchuria or China, they liberated it. That there were no murders or rapes in Nanjing, that that is a calumny invented by Chinese propagandists. They even claim that it was Chinese who killed and raped Chinese in Nanjing. They insist that anyone who believes that Japanese soldiers committed atrocities in China is a masochistic, traitorous tool of Japan's enemies who is betraying their country. Sound familiar?"
No, and if you are implying some connection between what the Japanese have done and what was done in Abu Ghraib, then you'd be guilty of treason if you weren't an ex-pat, in my mind.
"So, no, it wasn't a 'let's deal with murderers seriously' question of 'rocket science.' It was a question of let's assume guilt by association with no rational justification, remove civil liberties to screw with groups we've never liked sort of "rocket science." All new religions are criminally suspect. That will make Japan safe--from religious freedom."
Excuse me, but you lost me.
You bringing up the subject of "rational justification" is an oxymoron on your part, and somewhat of a sick joke.. and one I'm not gonna play here with the likes of "you" and "Jeb".
Btw, false-tongued "Ben", you are attempting to remove my civil liberty to survive on this planet, so you ain't 'zactly home free in that department, fool.
Btw, I finished re-reading the first post on this thread, and had forgotten it was (presumably, don't ya luv this form of anonymous communication) you're antonym, "Ben Franklin". You wouldn't actually know ANYthing about the issues you 'spoke' to, is my main point.
Find you manage to get a lotta people agree with you in part, which is the scary thing about all this.
Excuse me, but you have no intimate understanding of what is important, and what is not important. For you to impune The Holy Qu'ran and convolute it with my name is a misconcoction... As I've 'said' before, a misconcoction is so base because based on a concoction, not even a concept.
You are being false yet again and you're, to that use semi-hateful blog parlance, iaw, not on the cluetrain or clueless.
I was gonna let this slide at first, until I put it in the context of the entire bloggin' piece of bloggin' blog.
I have no idea
If you (and a few other people I notice) would-a stopped right here, I could have agreed.
what meme you think this is supposed to be promoting, but you've piqued my curiosity as a former anthropologist. Pray tell.
To me, it refers to the Spanish government's false charges that Basque separatists bombed the train before the elections. It was these lies and the governments' fixation on domestic enemies rather than foreign terrorists that got them voted out of office. The Spanish people couldn't figure why they should have a dog in the US's misguided fight. So they elected a government that will defend their national interest rather than Bush's version of US national interest.
Your version would be?
My version is that is precisely, pretty much exactly 100%, one of the limbals I figured most would get.
Which implies other limbals... Moreso, this was the conclusion.
Phone call, so that concludes some-a this (to me) nonsense.. for now.
Perhaps, but perhaps also my views are too liberal for you in other respects. As for the following:
"Given that the Spanish government lied about who the terrorists were, it's hard to see how reporting that would be other than a truth 'meme.' You don't seem to care much for those."
The Spanish government initially lied about who the terrorists were, but did you see the word 'terrorists' in this article...?
And the conclusion of this article is genuine, ya say...? Why is this news being continuously pumped out like elevator-news...?? Musac-like news-ack, iaw, bloggin' blogs... Why is this still be reported, and 'master narrative' can only be called on to save yer butt a few times, not every time.
And ya say yer name is "Ben Franklin", speaking of liking "truth memes".
@pseudo-jeb: Masking the source of the attacks sure didn't work for the ousted political party in Spain, true. Masking the attacks in France a couple weeks later sure HAS worked to reinforce the meme that the Iraq invasion would only spread Al Quaida attacks further, I would observe.
Look up, especially throughout the blog-wad known as a 'sphere'.. references to attack on Spain vs. references to attack on France, quantitatively or qualitatively, either one..
And especially since a few months back when they happened. Which meme continues on.. and on.. and on.. and on........... falsely on. And don't give me the equation that these things, in The Press, are measured according to how many lives are sacrificed at the altars.. because I notice some times The Press skews it that way and other times it chooses not to.
Get a count on these two attacks, and measure it according to the implications instead of the bodies.
Now, why is (only) one of these attacks (still) being reported on almost-daily-basis...?? Do the math.
(I grow weary of this non-debate...)-;
"How did the press get that kind of power?"
Simple: Same way bloggers got credentialed to be journalists.
Combo of No checks, No balances, and No "clueless" need apply.
And most of the journalists who are into bloggers, and those who are into blogging themselves, and those who've been into this for years.. Well, they are saying they're protecting our freedoms and keeping The Press honest.
How many times, seen these memes...??
And the results, how COULD they be so CONTRADICTORY to that, in reality. (How could they NOT be, I'd ask.. and Ed Cone isn't near the worst, just because he's now decided to be a political activist and all... Both Party's needed to be taken over by somebody, so Ed Cone et al may as well have one and the other's can have the other, right?)
Would it was otherwise, Mr. or Ms. "doodah"...)-;
Any non-anonymous comments, wise or otherwise...?? Btw, if Ed Cone et al and all actually HAVE any answers (even just one) in either of these, I'd like to see them.
But they'll keep bloggin' like always, 'cause it's just plain fun.
Excuse me for interrupting, and perhaps only provide more 'gossip'.. but do I even need to provide my views on this:
"All of this makes Iraq a rather unique rebellion, guerilla operation, civil war, or whatever you want to call it. Comparisons to other guerilla wars will be difficult, because the size of the population supporting the guerillas has a direct bearing on the chances of the guerillas succeeding. In Iraq, the small portion of the population supporting guerilla operations indicates that the possibility of success is very low. But the fighting could go on for a while. The Malay insurrection of 1948-60 was carried out largely by the Chinese minority (37 percent of the population of 6.2 million)."
"whatever you want to call it"...?
Unfortunately, the people supporting these wars would be, also, the people in Iraq who do not care to defend themselves militarily.
I would add that "Comparisons to other guerilla wars will be difficult," (other than the continuing conflicts in Afghanistan?,) because why...?!?
And the economics of warfare being what it is, you can do SO much more with SO few. (I gather the $1 BILLION cost and RISING is very largely "credited" to 250 of the "Trippi Tribe & Cult". So if they could each just supply.. say $6,000,000 each.. then we could all just call this even-Steven...)-;
I thought the recent analysis in Arab News, (SO SOrry, forget Amir's? byline) on the current options was so badly superior to this analysis so I'm not sorry I called this a blog.
Must be a bloggin' reader, I'd guess, or somebody who relates closely to those who do...
Outta here, perhaps now, for now??
What else would you look for, and where...? These are always the essence of the questions, afaik.
The seeds generally are found near the plants, but not always.. right or left?
"Lord, give me the strength to be direct and loving with my neighbors.
Help me resist involving others needlessly when differences arise."
Happened to see this, in my 'rounds':
To "sbw", I should have written "also say, in addition.. [what you said]". Anyone can and can't help but, see parts of their own bias. It is laziness disguised to say otherWise. Sometimes large parts. Show some respect yourself, to yourself and your craft.
Speaking of which:
"Free Poll Alone Can Empower Iraqis
Amir Taheri, Arab News"
And did Mr. Schwartz' blog explain why I even need to type in any brackets, whatsoever, yet?!?
And this is journalism?? Or is not-journalism, ie a blog-like dyslogic.
"Being a doctor and being a soldier are not conflicting duties, said Martha Huggins, an author, sociologist and longtime torture researcher from Tulane University who spoke in June at an American Association for the Advancement of Science (news - web sites) conference on the topic. "
Even if officers or other military personnel were abusing prisoners and detainees, it doesn't mean the system expects a doctor to be complicit, she said."
'They put you in that position. They have validated that they want you to be a doctor,' and that means doing no harm, Huggins said."
I mean, given the oath that was quoted, and given the war on terror is primarily against non-uniformed 'soldiers "of fortune/survivalism"'. 'Perhaps' Ms. Huggins is not familiar with the duties of somebody in uniform (of any kind, but especially the uniform of armed forces). And, if not, she should recuse herself and those with her views from this discussion or any further discussion along these lines.
So the first question of all the 'ethics' involved to be solved is who are the combatants and how are they to be identified...?
Period. (Question mark.)
Combatants not generally wanting to make themselves visible, nor identified in any way if possible, afaik.
(Lacking that.. this is a blogger of an article of faith, so to speak...)-;
And the point would BE that very few have willingly PUT themselves INTO the positions they find themselves. That position being: Pawns of "the not-quite-plainly-visible 'global warrior' caste". (Even violent business-people/tribes understand this, I believe.)
At least, this is part of what is plainly non-obvious to me.
What is obvious is there is a clear and present danger in believing ALL 'scientific evidence', especially that of socialogists, and even more, psychologists in these matters of ethics.
Ethics being a similarly non-exact science, but in most other ways non-similar.
A blog is a technological innovation. Bloggers are people who write or read information using this technology. Many blogs allow readers to comment. Most blogs link to other blogs, both in a "blogroll" and in articles.
Generalizations beyond that start breaking down. You need to subclass the blogs and bloggers.
It is perfectly possible for professional or amateur journalists to practice real journalism using blog technology. But that doesn't make all or most or many bloggers "journalists." On the other hand, non-journalist blogs can be very valuable in a number of ways.
Other forms of information can be disseminated using blogs, and blogs can form communities.
Some blogs are personal diaries. Others are focused on specific areas - science, a narrow subset of a specific science, activism for one group, advocacy, support groups, etc. In other words, a blog is a very general purpose tool. What it is used for depends on the blogmaster and sometimes, the community of commenters.
Other than forums for discussion, my main use of blogs is to keep track of certain areas in national and international news. In that sense, several blogs serve as indexes, pointing into other blogs with timely articles or online articles from traditional journalism.
J. Toran comments:
Btw, in reply to "Useful", I would note that America, Europe and also Arabia, Africa and ALL ELSEWHERE also have racist aspects to them. Some more than others... Thus your specific point is an area where one CAN apply some generalizations.
I disagree with the conclusion of this. Americans, unless they have been in some of these highly racist societies with a friendly (and truthful) native, are going to have trouble appreciating the radical differences vs. our society, and how racism is an extremely critical part. Japanese, in particular, have a subtle set of rules of interaction, and you would never, ever realize that racism was a critical part of some interaction you have.
I am sure there are other cultures which are radically different, but the only two I have personal experience with are Japan and Korea. Others have seemed much more consistent, probably because they are descendents of European colonialism.
If you travel the world, you come to realize how relatively non-racist are the US and Western Europe (with the exception of its growing antisemitism, and its hidden racist confusion with Islamic immigrants).
It's called a "ruthless crap detector". And btw, I dominate discussions by using it, although it's not an infallible tool. You're full of crap, iow, especially if you read the posts from today.
But I catch the drift that you'd rather I not post so that, in actual fact, would make you the bully. And notwithstanding your attempt:
I mis-read your post, regarding "the latter..."
What was it in my post you didn't understand, as I thought it plainly obvious...??
I'm sick of bloggers and even more sick of journalists sinking to the levels of bloggers. And even more, journalist/bloggers taking over the political parties.
So I'm sick of The Press, in actual fact, controlling the Government through manipulating the vote. Just because you all nearly-perfected the process with the Tripp-D campaign, (by bloggers controlling/mis-leading this The Press, obviously,) that just makes me even MORE against this what-you-hold-so-dear, The Blog.
And I'm especially sick of people taking over political parties, and taking over anything they CAN take over, and doing it in the name of "liberating the po' peeps". Like Linus Torvalds did before you.
Now SOME of this was obviously not mentioned in the post. But wasn't most of this pretty plain?
Or what was there that was not plain, in that post and any others, Ed...??
"I am sure there are other cultures which are radically different, but the only two I have personal experience with are Japan and Korea."
And you don't see how this influences your mis-statements??
"Japanese, in particular, have a subtle set of rules of interaction, and you would never, ever realize that racism was a critical part of some interaction you have."
The first movie I ever saw, iirc and I believe I do, was To Kill a Mockingbird, but I've already written on that.
And limiting racism, conceptually, is a poor starting point. Classism is a form of racism, as is sexism. There are many forms, not hard to see.
World travelers tend towards calling themselves 'cosmopolitans' or 'bloggers'. I'm not impressed, in fact impressed negatively by these so-called self-proclaimed 'experts their field' and 'experts in all fields' types. Not everybody who has crayons is a Rembrandt. I'm more impressed by experience. I've worked for and with black people, white racists, a Muslim, homosexuals, Jews and many others. I've had all of these groups of different people, as well as others, working for me, other than I don't recall hiring any Jews or Muslims. (Back in the day, ('bout a decade ago,) I had a small staff, from 2.5 to 8, usually very few.)
My point is, self-exhaltation about how world-traveled one is only leads me to conclude you are a blogger. And probably the easiest way to find a friendly and truthful native to guide you, these days, is to read a blogger and note that almost everything they write is tinged with self-advertising. An admixture of partial-facts and wholly-false-lies and mostly air from intelligent air-heads... No matter how subtle, almost everything they write will be friendly and the near-perfect opposite of anything resembling 'truth'. A truth that is so partial it is less than useless, because it gives the appearance of being SO useful.
"Appearances can be deceiving"
The exceptions are so rare. But the lies and mis-statements are not, perhaps to some, so readily apparent.
Btw, from the 'Useful Fools' site I finally today had chance to review SPJ's code of Journalism Ethics, which are good. Even better would be if journalists could follow some of these ethics, at least on occasion.
Finally, "keep promises" is not (properly speaking) a subject of Journalism, as it's the essence of any ethics-based systems. I've promised myself I wouldn't waste time and energy blogging, but did again today.