March 2008 Archives
He's not the only one. Numerous media commentators and reporters have characterized Wright's sermons as "hate speech" or "racist." Even Hillary Clinton agreed that the sermons constitute "hate speech."
Now, if I were a working journalist, this would be the time for me to go do some research. I would actually listen to all of these sermons and try to detect any kind of anti-white bias. I would look for any examples of stoking anti-white hatred -- any calls to exterminate whites, any declarations of white inferiority, any gross generalizations about the behavior or motivations of all white people. Because to me, that's what constitutes "racism" or "hate speech." (Of course, "hate speech" as a legal concept is ridiculous in the first place, but let's assume for the moment that it isn't.)
Have any journalists done this research? Have any of them actually looked into these accusations and figured out whether or not Wright is actually making the same kinds of generalizations about whites that, say, John Hagee -- who recently endorsed John McCain -- has made on the record about Muslims, Catholics and gays?
No. Of course not.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2008 election -- like the 2004 election and the 2003 decision to invade Iraq -- will be won and lost not by the politicians, but by the media who cover them.
Having worked in the media monitoring industry for the past six years, I've learned to approach all media with a healthy skepticism, but when it comes to broadcast media, that skepticism borders on cynicism. It's the result of seeing day in and day out not only the extent to which corporate interest and public relations firms are able to exert their control over the news, but also just how often media outlets simply get their stories wrong, or are not detailed enough to offer a complete picture of the story being reported. Nowhere are both of these aspects more prevalent than in health news segments.
It's no secret that most affiliates of the four major networks make heavy use of packaged news and that through this means corporations are able to promote their products, denigrate their competitors, and build PR for their brands. I'll leave that discussion for another time, though, as today I am more concerned with reports that are incomplete or, worse, incorrect. When it comes to local news -- crime, fires, terrorist threats...
Local ultra-alternative, anti-corporate weekly paper Velocity, the be-all-end-all of everything awesome involving really cool nightclubs and really cooler people, runs a column called "What I'm Into", where readers get to learn about some of the incredibly interesting people in our little burg. Like most things in Velocity, it's a completely original idea; no one in Louisville has ever done anything like it before. Also like most things in Velocity, it only addresses the most fascinating subjects and does so with, dare I say it, Pulitzer-quality writing. Honestly, thank fucking god for Velocity.
This week it's a real treat to learn everything we can about local singer-songwriter Justin Lewis. Justin is into all kinds of unique and interesting things, such as movies, reading, and eating shows. Why aren't the people I know this interesting? I should let the man speak for himself:
"... I'm a sucker for SpongeBob SquarePants... I'm a sucker for novels... I'm a big sucker for Lynn's Paradise Cafe... "
Well, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that Justin is a sucker. Or at least, that's what the harsh, intense journalistic light Velocity shines on him has told me.
Of course, I could be getting the wrong idea. He is a musician, which ostensibly speaks, to some modicum of creativity, and he's going with Hearts in Motion to Guatemala to try to help people in need. Checking out the organization, I couldn't even find any religious affiliations on their website to sneer at. Maybe there's more to this guy than his almost freakishly unique love for "Forrest Gump" and Bob Dylan. I'll have to read more in Velocity to find out!
Oh, wait, the primaries are the lead story, but this useless, mindless idiocy that passes for news (celebrity worship) is the second story, over a child porn sting, american troops throwing a puppy off a cliff, and wow, nothing about Blackwater shooting random civilians for entertainment.
So their thumbs up and Kudos candy bar are both revoked and then spat upon.
I'm a fan of feuds. I could read about people who have beef with one another, all day. I love it. In fact, my favorite beef that I've ever read was between 'The Incredible Inman' and Richard Marx. That's 'Mr. Marx' to the rest of us.
That said, is this the kind of beef you want to try and bring, Velocity? Seriously?
For starters, your cover story is about losing weight, a highly edgy story, that only magazines like 'Elle' or 'Glamour' touch on, a real niche audience. I'd say at least half of the paper is advertisements. The other half is pictures of people at parties (something I've always wanted to learn more about, thank you), clever blogs, and an article about saving money. I have no issue with this, but let's call a duck a goddamned duck. This shit quacks, son.
My favorite bit though, and I definitely saved this for last, is the line about LEO being corporate. Holy shit. I'm in awe of this. Understand, I don't care which paper out indie's the other. It doesn't matter. This is pissing in a fan and I love seeing people do this. What I don't understand is how a paper that's owned by Gannett can print one word about how corporate someone else is. I may be mistaken, but isn't Gannett, like -the- corporate newspaper company? I was under the impression that it was the clear channel of the printed word. I was under that impression, because it's the truth. Funny how that works out.
You may want to reinforce your glass, fellas.
Over at the Skeptic Magazine website, author, essayist, musician, and skeptic Steve Salerno has an excellent overview of the ways in which broadcast media is fundamentally flawed as a means of communicating a message to the public at large. The crux of Salerno's essay is not that our broadcast media is sloppy or unprofessional, nor that it has become the tool of a particular political agenda, nor even that the rise of new media has lessened broadcast's stranglehold on the means of communication. Instead, Salerno rightly focuses on an aspect of broadcast media that many folks simply do not consider: the delivery of news is an enterprise whose means of survival is to produce profit (by bumping ratings). Unfortunately, this very fact means that in order to survive, broadcast media must do exactly the opposite of what should be its prime directive, sacrificing the delivery of accurate, balanced, and broad news coverage in favor of a grossly unbalanced focus on the sensational. I'll let Salerno speak for himself.
It's interesting to see how this impacts even the seemingly harmless portions of the news, such as the weather. I've learned from a somewhat inside source that the meteorologists at one of our major local affiliates in Louisville are given certain words that they're highly encouraged to fit into their forecasts. Every week, analysts working for the parent company send in the list of "buzz words" that are likely to catch the attention of viewers and boost ratings. Refusal to use the words results in disciplinary action, never mind if the forecast actually calls for these words. This practice is likely mirrored at other stations, though I've only learned of it specifically at one in particular. Nevertheless, even without this manipulation of the language, it's clear that even the mildest of wet weather is cause enough for many of the local stations to commandeer primetime slots, breaking into the shows people actually want to watch in order to subject the viewing public to a stagnant radar image and hyperbolic fear-mongering. That's what draws the ratings, and, therefore, the money.