Pages

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Rush to Judgment

Just about every other J-blog is covering the news that it was in fact NOT Israel who caused the deaths of the picnicking Palestinians a few days ago, but more likely a mine placed by Hamas.

Other blogs are covering the news that Karl Rove will in fact not be indicted for anything, contrary to the hopes and claims of many on the left over the past year or so.

I think that these two stories point to a serious problem that has long been pointed to but never been addressed: The complete and utter irresponsibility of our news media to learn the facts of a story before reporting it.

On top of this, when the truth does later come out, the story gets nowhere near the coverage it did originally - unless you're a serious news follower, you will forever be under the impression that the original story reported was true, when in fact it was completely false. As Meryl Yourish pointed out today:
When the Gaza incident hit, within a very short time, there were thousands of news items on the incident all around the world. There are currently 114 news items about the IDF report denying responsibility.
Isn't it beyond ridiculous already? How much longer are we the people going to allow our news media to get away with this willful lack of standards? Think through the major stories that were breathlessly reported over the past couple of years - how many have been proven false as the dust clears:
Valerie Plame's outing. Tens of thousands dead during Katrina. Black people left to die during Katrina. Tens of thousands dead at the Superdome. Israel kills seven at beach. Israel kills. Israel kills. Israel kills. Haditha. Missile attack in Afghanistan by US soldiers wipes out village. Karl Rove to be indicted. Vice President Cheney to be indicted. Military recruitment down. US torturing people at secret camps in Europe. US tapping domestic phone calls. US compiling all phone records from phone companies. Speaker Hastert to be investigated.
The list goes on and on. All of the above were major headlines for at least a day or two - some for much longer. All turned out to be false or very different than originally reported. In many cases, the truth could have been discovered quickly simply by asking the right people (as discussed previously). It is absolutely pathetic that the news media reports with no compunction, with no fear of backlash, with no worry that their irresponsibility may one day hurt them. It simply never does.

What kind of standards are we holding our news media to?

Apparently, none.

22 comments:

  1. The disconnect between the media and the real world is very scary.

    It used to be that they would go out of their way to bring the people "the truth" now they have this complex that they are more protectors of the concept of bringing the truth that to show people they don't back down from anyone they proudly rush to report these stories.

    It also may have something to do with the fact that since there is so much competition between news organizations, they rush to beat the other outlets to the story, thus compromising making sure the story is indeed true.

    Do we remember the not so long ago coal miners "are all alive .... oops only one person made it" fiasco?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely - the rush to beat the other networks et al definitely compounds the problem... but if they were serious about honesty they would be able to gain of the others' rushing. The inability of major news media to admit when they've made a mistake would destroy their credibility - if only one of the others would point it out.

    If one network decided to be more careful in their reporting, they would quickly gain from the recognizance of people that they are far more trustworthy than the others. When they start noting that it is "contrary to the earlier unfounded reports of other major news media", they would look even better.

    But that's not going to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow.
    Everyone posts on important stuff and I go post about the world cup.
    I'm soooo deep.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The news media have certainly shown very little interest in the details of the Plame case. You have to go to the Internet for this story. But the Israeli government didn't know it was a mine the day it happened, so you cannot blame the media who were not on-site. You can certainly blame the media for assuming Americans are not really interested in foreign news.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Tens of thousands dead at the Superdome!?" Even on Kos I didn't hear that one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. BE - I can blame them for not properly retracting it, certainly. And the 5-digit figures were MSM.

    ReplyDelete
  7. sad but true. The big headline on the cover can never be taken away by the small retraction on page 9.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The 114 news items are shameful. OTOH Yourish is talking about the media in every country in the world, and they have not yet had a full day on this story?

    Big, splashy, violent events get more press than quiet, civil events even if you are trying to be responsible.

    ReplyDelete
  9. BE - Nevertheless, the media jumps on certain stories without qualification but on others they qualify heavily even when it is clear what happened. See Life-of-Rubin's posts today along with StillRuleAll.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ezzie- thanks for correcting me. I suspect I was still asleep when I posted, and just saw those headlines...

    ReplyDelete
  11. blueenclave, most of the world has finished their day. here in the West we are behind. Most countries are ahead time wise.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Observations:
    The Israeli retraction was running on the CNN crawl on Larry King. It was not paired with another story.
    NYT puts "ISRAELI STRIKE KILLS 10 IN GAZA" as first headline and "But Officials Reject Blame For 7 Deaths on Friday" directly under it. The story is next to the rightmost column, which has Bush's visit to Iraq.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Times will only pair headlines positive to Israel with ones that are negative; and only in language that leaves doubt.

    Why is it unequivocal that Israelis killed 10 in Gaza, but "Officials" only who reject the blame for Friday?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Military recruitment down. US torturing people at secret camps in Europe. US tapping domestic phone calls. US compiling all phone records from phone companies.

    These aren't true?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Military recruitment is up.

    There was a report this week that to date no claims of secret camps have been substantiated.

    The US does not tap any domestic calls - all calls involve one international end.

    Both Verizon and BellSouth denied giving over any records to the US.

    And you've proven my point: You weren't even aware of any of these.

    ReplyDelete
  16. [or were pointedly ignoring them]

    ReplyDelete
  17. I had to pore over my paper with a magnifying glass to find anything about Israel not being responsible for the gaza blast. It was buried at the end of a long article about Fatah protests on the west bank.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The J-S isn't exactly known for its pro-Israel stance...

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think that pointedly ignoring them is the correct response.
    He threw you softballs and you knocked them right out of the park.

    ReplyDelete