OT: Media Reponsiblity and Fairness

p@mast3rs wrote on 6/2/2005, 4:28 PM
As the school year is winding down and sub days lessen for me, I found myself watching Court TV and their coverage of the Jackson trial. Now granted, its a legal and law channel with shows hosted by former prosecutors so I expect some slanted journalism. But the end that these so called prosecutors turned journalists will go to sway its viewers against accused parties is absurd and pathetic. Now I have no clue whether Jackson is guilty or not nor do I really much care either way. What I do have a problem with is the irresponsbile nature that the media practice these days.

It just seems as justice in its truest form is the least of their goals more so they either show or cover only the facts and rumors that lend to their position or agenda. As much as I dislike Bush, Michael Moore is guilty of the same thing.

I am all for freedom of speech and expression but with that comes a great deal of responsiblity to report fairly and accurately without taking sides. The media has proven time and again that it can no longer be trusted to be impartial and objective in its coverage. Nancy Grace is a disgrace to justice and honest reporters everywhere. It really makes me wonder just what it is they teach potential lawyers in school these days.

Sorry for the rant but its about time we hold the media accountable for the crap they cause and the injustices they contribute to.


winrockpost wrote on 6/2/2005, 4:57 PM
court tv and journalism shouldnt be used in the same paragraph.

It is pure entertainment , kind of a Jerry Springer goes to court .

Not that lots of so called news shows are much better.
p@mast3rs wrote on 6/2/2005, 5:09 PM
I disagree. Its marketed as media and a true outlet for the news dealing with the legal system and its cases. While Im positive that they would lose viewership if they reported fairly, they tout "experts" to support their network's agenda and when they have opposing experts, they cut them off whenever a point is made against their agenda.

While it may be entertainment to some, it is owned by CNN and the majority of these reporters/lawyers are also on CNN.

We once lived in a world that believe we are all innocent until proven guilty but in today's media, once charged you are guilty until proved innocent and if you are acquitted it had to be some activist judge or jury or some "great" defense on a legal loophole.

PossibilityX wrote on 6/2/2005, 6:35 PM
On NPR's "Talk Of The Nation" this afternoon, the host spoke with Ed Bradley of CBS' 60 MINUTES.

Ed told an interesting story. Early in his career he did a story which included a shot of a revolving door spinning around.

His boss, on watching the piece, asked him: "Did you spin that door?"

Ed said, "No, people were actually using the door. We just waited until no people were in the shot so we could show just the spinning door..."

Ed explained that it was considered UNETHICAL in those days for a reporter or crew member to even spin the door---to re-enact something---even something ordinary like a revolving door!

He also said William Paley didn't care if the news division didn't pay its own way. CBS was making enough $$$ in other areas and could subsidize the news division.

Contrast that with the Monkey Festivals we stare at these days.

I am certainly no world traveller, but having been in Europe three times in the past 18 months, and watching German and Austrian news programs while there, I can tell you this: There's an enormous world of difference between the quality and depth of their broadcasts and our broadcasts. And it boils down, I think, to our worship of profit uber alles. When profit is the ONLY thing that matters, everything else suffers. News channels are going to report on what people will watch, and in ways that encourage them to watch---not neccesarily on stuff that might actually be important, in ways that might be more likely to stimulate the mind instead of the emotions.

Interestingly, while typing the above, I accidentally typed "our prodcasts" instead of "broadcasts." If that ain't a Freudian slip, I don't know what is. Prodcasting: Welcome to Amerika. Let us entertain you. News as product.

Americans as a whole would much rather be entertained than informed.

Watch Leno's "Jay Walking" segment sometime. I used to wonder how hard he had to search to find the handful of people stupid enough to appear on the segment.

Sadly, I now believe he can probably grab the first five people he sees and be assured of having five sufficiently stupid guests.
winrockpost wrote on 6/2/2005, 7:03 PM
CNN and Court are both part of time warner, along with HBO, and a gazillion other companies. My opinion is that they are entertainment not news media, but thats just an opinion I arrived at from viewing several times during the Peterson case .Watching screaming former prosecuters now "anchors "act like complete morons. Always giving their opinions, not reporting. I wouldnt base the state of news media on court tv.
Spot|DSE wrote on 6/2/2005, 7:22 PM
IMO, there isn't very much "real" news reporting any more, even from the former die-hards like Nightline, 60 mins, etc. It's all about pretty boys and girls, reporting sound bites and nothing more. The Bob Woodwards if this world are long forsaken for the 30 second "infomercial" that has become news.
CNN has this lady, (former prosecutor from Georgia) who is not only a loudmouth bigot, she's had to eat crow on many occasions, but continues to blast right through other stories with comments like "I hope they fry Jackson, he's a pedophile, and I believe the jury will convict him." But she's a newscommentator in the guise of being an "expert" on the subject. Even Greta vanSustern, who was once a pretty good legal commentator has turned to the spectacular in her new show.
Media Responsibility? I submit that phrase today, is an oxymoron. Sum it up in less than :30, move on to the next story.
I think Stephen King predicted it just about right in "Running Man."
Coursedesign wrote on 6/2/2005, 7:46 PM
...and even NPR now is often providing just "he said, she said" reporting, without doing any independent research to find out what questions would bring out the truth.

Couldn't they save money by using minimum-wage (or better, youth-wage, which is even less money) inexperienced interns for all journalist positions?

After all, if the complicated stuff that's taught at top journalism schools is no longer used, why pay for it?
busterkeaton wrote on 6/2/2005, 8:32 PM
Spot, I think you might be talking about Nancy Grace. I think CNN has rewarded her by giving her, her own show.

Also do you mean spectacular, as in "really amazing" or do mean pursuing specatcle.

My favorite media controversy recently, though perhaps it was more of a political controversy, is Arnold Schwarzenegger has been running ads to build support for his legislative agenda. One of the ads, he is sitting down and talking with workers in a cafeteria. The ads were intended to be in a caught-on-the-fly type of documentary style. There's wierd framing where you can clearly see the Diet Pepsi bottles and potato chip wrappers on on the table. At one point they frame Arnold with a Lays/Sun Chips stand behind his head. Somebody looked into it and found that all the products were either Pepsi brands or Nestle brands. Both of which gave Arnold big contributions. Folks are wondering that this might be the first known instance of Product Placement in a political ad. The ad is no longer on Arnold's site, but you can find it on the web if you want.

There is another ad on the site that might be the oddest political ad I've ever seen. There is no diaglogue or narration and no onscreen text at all. I've never seen that in a political ad. The whole ad is just six shots of Arnold and five other people riding in a Hummer with a big REFORM1 logo with light guitar pop playing. It's almost a Dadaesque political ad. I suspect Arnold is the only politicin in the world, you could create that kind of ad for.
RalphM wrote on 6/2/2005, 8:33 PM
The "News Magazines" of TV are among the worst IMHO - they have a story to tell and they're not going to let mere facts get in the way of their message.

Spot|DSE wrote on 6/2/2005, 10:02 PM
Nancy Grace is indeed who I was referring to. She not only pursues spectacular rather than newsworthy, she creates it with her attitude. If she weren't purveying herself a journalist, it would just be more entertainment. But she scares me. More conservative than Rush Limbaugh, more angry than Lewis Black, and the sensibility of neither.
B.Verlik wrote on 6/2/2005, 10:28 PM
Jay Leno knew he didn't have to look too far on the streets to find stupid people, because he stole the entire bit from Howard Stern, who'd been doing it for years. He also stole John Melendez (aka Stuttering John) too. Of course, Jay claims he got the idea from Steve Allen. Yeah, sure. Two completely different bits, and he can't 'fess up.
Jay Leno was the greatest comedian back in the 70's, but he's just a shell of his former self since trying to replace Johnny Carson. Milquetoast compared to the old Jay Leno.
What do you mean I'm off topic of the off topic? Okay.....bye.
farss wrote on 6/3/2005, 1:26 AM
Having recently spent a few weeks in the USA and finding the majority of people I met pretty well informed about the true state of the nation and the rest of the world, I still don't understand how you good people have let it all get so out of control.
There just seems to be such a huge gap between the peoples of the USA and the way the place looks from the outside. I'm certain your media has an aweful lot to do with it, I'm certain a healthy proportion of US citizens are aware of how bad it's become but the danger is the 'fiction' you're talking about here becoming the reality.

I can't say my countries doing much better either, we seem to be on the same slippery slope, more the pity.

TheHappyFriar wrote on 6/3/2005, 6:46 AM
I've got to say, it's pretty bad when the morning hosts of the local new rock radio station are more un-biased then most local TV reporters (sad really).

I've got to say that I'm really happy with one of the local news outlets here. They seem pretty unbiased which is a great change from the other who go for "attention grabbing" news & not just the news (I find myself listening to the BBC more & more).

Honestly, the ONLY time I remember any non-biased news broadcasts was durring 9/11/01 from the NYC FOX affiliate. That's it. Every other time everyone has been biased a little.
Coursedesign wrote on 6/3/2005, 8:16 AM
During the two weeks after 9/11 I was following the newscoverage both in the U.S. and in Europe.

I was more than a little surprised to find that some major events *in the U.S.* was on overseas news two days before appearing here...

It seemed somewhat surreal, as if our media had to wait for an announcement from the White House before daring to report it, even if the White House had nothing to do with it.

One example at the time was what was happening with the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). Very odd to see this told overseas two days before being announced here, and there were several other major news items too.

p@mast3rs wrote on 6/3/2005, 8:32 AM
All excellent points guys. I guess thats my problem with todays program offerings. I think that programs that advertise themselves as being news outlets need to be just that, news without the sensationalism. It just seems anymore that everyone has picked a side and those in power are afforded the chance to steer viewers to their way of thinking instead of letting its viewers think for themselves.

If it werent for college football and a few shows on IFC and Sundance, I dont think I would watch TV very much anymore. I pray to God that I never end up in a major criminal case covered by court tv because even if acquitted, the smear job they do on the accused is far more damaging then any sentence handed down from a jury.

Whether Jackson did it or not, he will NEVER recover the bias and malicious remarks made by Grace. Sadly, if he is innocent, his career is OVER and will be unable to recover because society will always think of him as a pedophile and people like Nancy Grace will continue to refer him as the accused and offer the reason for acquittal as a great defense put on by his lawyers.

Other than faith in God and in my family, I have no faith in true media journalism and even less in what we call the justice system in modern day. We truly live in a scary time.
riredale wrote on 6/3/2005, 10:36 AM
Last summer I travelled wih a local Oregon choir for 10 days through Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The people there were wonderful, and I got the impression that more than a few of them were relieved to see that these American kids and parents were normal, well-behaved and civilized people just like them. A few of the local citizens mentioned to me that we were so different from what the impressions were that they got from major news outlets such as the New York Times or the BBC.

As a person on the conservative side of the spectrum I tend to see life through a filter based on my own experiences, just as those of you on the liberal side of the spectrum have your own filters. But to me, it's obvious that much of the world gets its impressions of America from the MainStreamMedia and Hollywood, both of which are markedly to the left of center. The situation is gradually getting better, in my view, due to the rise of multiple alternative communication channels such as this wonderful thing called the Internet. Just look at the Rathergate fiasco. Twenty years ago it would have been more or less accepted at gospel truth, but the Blogosphere was able to get to the facts in an astonishingly short time.

Coursedesign wrote on 6/3/2005, 11:25 AM
I don't have time for political blogs, but I did hear indirectly that the Bush military documents weren't shown to be false.

It was only shown that they could conceivably have been done in Word today, and with no secondary source to back that up, this should not have been published.

I grew up conservative and got some very good schooling in conservative ideas, from the work of Burke (the founder of modern conservatism) to more recent ponderings.

The odd thing is that I dont recognize much or even any of those conservative ideas and ideals in the people who are calling themselves "conservative" in this country today. They should call themselves "Ayn Rand followers" ("everyone for himself/herself"). Where is the stewardship that built this country?

And the new "Christians"? "Fundamentalists", no less. How come they don't advocate the teachings of Christ, but instead focus on *pre-Christian* teachings that are pretty nasty?
johnmeyer wrote on 6/3/2005, 11:34 AM
A few random thoughts on this topic:

For a great read about media responsibility, check out Breaking the News by James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly. It was written in 1996, but still relevant. I like the book because it is not about liberal or conservative "bias" but instead focuses on how journalists now cover the political aspects to the exclusion of the issues. Example: Bush proposes social security reform. Media coverage is exclusively about whether Bush wins or loses (politically), and ignores the actual merits of his proposal, or of the other counter proposals.

Journalists have become incompetent. Many of the recent media "scandals" in this country (USA) show an egregious lack of basic competence, even to the point of not understanding the basic who, what, when, where, why, how that is taught the first day of journalism school.

My doctor must pass a state exam to practice. My accountant must pass a CPA exam. My kid's teacher must be state certified. Airplane mechanics require certification. Yet, a journalist -- someone who practices in a profession so important that it has been dubbed "the fourth estate," meaning it is tantamount to the fourth branch of government -- requires no certification showing basic competence to practice his or her profession.

Bad journalism has not only become more prevalent in the past decade, I would argue it actually defines our current era. In fact, I think I can define each "recent" decade, using cynical oxymorons (contradictions in terms):

1950's: Cold war
1960's: Military intelligence
1970's: Government service
1980's: Legal ethics
1990's: Corporate responsibility
2000's: Journalistic ethics

The First Amendment protects a person's right to say something; it does not absolve them from responsibility to deal with resulting repercussions, nor does it pretend to provide any shield from rebuttals. Ask the families of the people that died in the riots that erupted after Newsweek's recent incorrect story about abuses. That is an extreme example, but someone always pays when news is reported incorrectly, including when it is shaded, slanted, or biased, intentionally or otherwise.

B.Verlik wrote on 6/3/2005, 11:37 AM
Another thing that sickens me, is that every reporter, especially on CNN or any big network, sounds like they're doing an impression of the Saturday Night Live cast doing impressions of News commentators. I guess people won't take you seriously unless you can do a bad impression of Walter Cronkite.
They condition people in any way that they can.
WedVidMan wrote on 6/3/2005, 1:02 PM
My Random House College Dictionary defines the word 'Propaganda" as 1) information or ideas methodically spread to promote or injure a cause, group, nation, etc.. and 3) the doctrines or principles propagrated by an organization or movement. I'm surprised that noone in the previous posts used this word. Bad news is goods news. The agenda? Bad new is good business because it makes money. Yellow journalist is back because it sells. There are only so many news programs and oh so many newspeople wanting to fill one of those positions. How many aren't looking for one of those sensational news events to cinch the position? Can't find one? Well, make one. Besides, can you always recognize one-sided agenda-backed reporting when you here it? Does anyone remember the USS Pueblo incident during the Vietnam conflict? Honesty has never been a national policy. Just like the separation of Church and State does not apply to Christians, just other religions. Any one want to venture how long a News program that reported only good things, or better yet, impartial reporting, would last? I wonder whether the reporting by NPR is really all that impartial. Even in Video, you can slant what you see. An angle modified by post editing, a little change in the lighting, add an audio track to enhance the ambiance or lack of.. We do it for money, the all glorious Money Shot. Our own little bit of propaganda.
Coursedesign wrote on 6/3/2005, 1:33 PM
I should have made the distinction more clear between the wonderful people who actually follow the teachings of Christ, and those whom I consider to be Christians in name only.

I am very much saddened by people who say they believe in Christ, but show through their actions that they don't respect his teachings and obviously don't believe in them.

I call them "pre-Christians," because they focus on "an eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth," and personal power for themselves (instead of the power of love). This is a huge subject, way beyond what should be covered in this forum, but I think it points to an important minimum qualification for anybody to call himself or herself a true Christian.

I apologize for accidentally painting all other Christians with the same broad brush, it was not intended.

busterkeaton wrote on 6/3/2005, 2:52 PM
I think this thread is one of the reasons The Daily Show has had such good ratings recently.

"It doesn’t matter what I’ve seen, John. It’s been widely reported. And that makes it fact-esque."

Just look at the Rathergate fiasco. Twenty years ago it would have been more or less accepted at gospel truth, but the Blogosphere was able to get to the facts in an astonishingly short time.
I think this is still going to hang around for a while because there is still mystery as to what the facts are.
For one thing, the investigation into Rathergate could not say the documents were forgeries. (This is even though, the investigation was co-run by Dick Thornburgh who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations and had been a long time critic of CBS and Dan Rather.) This is problably because if they attempted to do that, they would have had experts who said the documents and the signature were authentic and experts who said they weren't, just like CBS's experts said.. CBS claims its last bit of doubt about the documents dropped when the White House spokesman, Dan Barlett never questioned the documents in an on-air interview. He never said, these incidents never happened, this document is in error. In fact, he claimed his interpretation of the documents supported the White House claims.
For two, the producer who got fired got a six figure deal for her book which was described in a NY gossip columns as explosive.
For three, it's never been explained how the first person on the Internet who gave evidence the documents were fake came to his conclusions. Within four hours after the segment aired, this poster went online with detailed info about fonts, typesetting, typewriters, laser printers, etc which he said proved the documents were false. At first, it was assumed he typography expert and knew about the history of typesetting. A week or so later after the story blew up big, the LA Times found his identity and discovered he was a lawyer and political operative and had no expertise in typography. So if he wasn't tipped off, how did he do his analysis and research in the few hours after the report aired and his post online? So far he has not answered this question. He refused to tell the LA Times how he got his information. In this last part that makes me think, we will hear more about this. It was this post that got the blogosphere rolling.
johnmeyer wrote on 6/3/2005, 3:18 PM

I am not sure, from reading your post, whether you think the documents were forgeries or not. I have no comment about all the other issues surrounding this story, and no axe to grind either way, but on the narrow question of whether the documents were forgeries I can say with certainty that they were forged.

I founded a desktop publishing company and spent five years in the business. I think I could be qualified, in the legal sense, as an expert (at least I could have been back in the 1980s). However, you don't need an expert. Typewriters just couldn't create such marks back then -- only a machine called a Composer -- and no one would ever use it for a simple memo, nor would they have access to it.

Proportional spacing (the documents in question used proportional spacing) was definitely available on typewriters back then, although few were used (my dad forced his poor secretary to use one back in the late 1960s, so I am very familiar with that model of IBM Selectric and have actually typed on one). They were a royal pain in the neck, since if you hit an "i" instead of a "u" and didn't discover your error until you'd typed a few more letters, you couldn't go back and simply use correction fluid or an eraser or anything else to delete the bad character and insert the new one because there wasn't enough space.

The superscripts and subscripts were available on special font balls (you could change the font on IBM Selectrics by changing the balls), but no one would ever bother to change them while filling in a simple form. Way too much bother and time required.

Finally, even if someone did have all the equipment and wanted to spend twenty minutes doing a two minute job, the spacing still wouldn't have matched.

Why the documents were faked, who did it, and all those other fun questions, I have no answers for these. But on the narrow question of whether they were fakes, I don't need access to the originals because the defects are obvious. They are fakes.
Coursedesign wrote on 6/3/2005, 4:53 PM

My addendum:

I used IBM Selectrics to write manuals for an early word processor (before it was release-ready).

They definitely had proportional spacing available, but not justified text, ie. they couldn't spread out each line of text evenly between the left and right margins.

There were also standard typeballs that had regular text + common superscripts such as "th", "rd", etc. No need to switch while typing.

The more expensive models of IBM Selectric had a Correction button that went back to the previous character and typed it again, but using a "White-Out" type dry ribbon. Very clean, actually.

I just don't see how you can say based on typography that these documents were for sure forged. They may very well be, but in the absence of clear human corroboration we may never know.

Sidenote: In those days, when a typewriter needed service, the IBM repair man (100% were men) always brought it back to the user's desk, together with a red rose for the secretary (of which nearly 100% were women).
ReneH wrote on 6/3/2005, 5:21 PM
I am always suspicious of the media, given the fact it is owned by large corporations. Just the other day I watched a badly narrated documentary on Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan "Dictator" (as our media portrays him), and it was badly narrated and not very factual. I'm beginiing to think, as I read/watch more on Venezuela, that our government is "preparing" the masses to agree to yet another "war on terrorism." I've come across too many articles in newspapers that are in accurrate to say the least. Sorry for the of topic reply...