21 December 2006

More on media disingenuous reactions...

The MSM has a problem: it refuses to be held accountable for reporting.

The highest levels of MSM reporting are that of the 'Great Ones' who put out great and grand pontifications upon events and swayed the Nation. Cronkite, Brinkley and Murrow are individuals who reported on things and gave their personal insight and commentary on events and so moved the Nation because they were seen as actually knowing what they were talking about. Pointing to Cronkite and Viet Nam, so many on the Left demonstrate that the MSM has validity because of what was said about that war. Further they point to the fact that Cronkite had been a reporter during the Second World War and knew what 'war was all about'. And in fact he did have an inkling... of Total War waged to remove a Nation State from power via the use of Arms. Viet Nam was not that kind of war, however, and his view of it 'going nowhere' reflected not that the Administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson had failed to give reason for that war, but had failed to carry out their policy in a way in which he could understand. His viewpoint was actually the correct one on what the aims of war in the modern age are, as he had seen it first hand: remove a Nation State from power via armed conflict. When he went to Viet Nam and saw that this was not happening he did, rightly, conclude that the war was not being conducted as he was used to it being conducted.

What that did not do, however, was make him *right* in his assessment or that it was a 'lost cause'. He did not put the conflict into the larger context of the Cold War nor did he give evaluation of *why* North Viet Nam was not being addressed in the form of warfare that he understood. By criticizing without placing his knowledge into context and asking: 'Why are we not moving in to CAPTURE and DEFEAT North Viet Nam?' he did the Nation a grave disservice. Through criticism without context and analyzing without offering solution, he put forth a negative position with no justification and, in point of fact, by leaving behind his entire wartime correspondent background. He put his personal concerns for the troops *first* and the concerns for the Nation *second* and drew the conclusion that the cost was not worth the expense and did not then put forth what WAS worth the expense.

That was a critical and vital refusal to look at the National policy, put it into context and ask just 'why' the Nation is not going in to remove North Viet Nam from power. That led to the removal of support for that conflict without addressing the underlying National Foreign Policy issues that drove that war. It was defeatism because Mr. Cronkite lacked the ability to put what he was seeing within the context he already knew and put forth that the means and aims of the war were not being achieved from his World War II perspective. The stakes for the neighboring Nations was high, and they paid the immediate price for the 'safe haven' of easy defeatism that the Left pushed upon the Nation. And there are long term consequences to that on a National scale and for the MSM.

Having looked at those National consequences, turning to the MSM is natural and the effects of a journalist crossing the ethical lines between reporting, commentary and analysis are grave. And because such a high profile figure did this, the rest of the media took that as a 'green light' to rush forward and into the new era in which they would no longer even attempt to separate news from facts from analysis, and everything would be about 'The Story'. And as the Conkite attack was seen as anti-government, and the Watergate Scandal elevated reporters in an anti-government role, the MSM moved from being a 'government watchdog' or 'muckraker' to become anti-government, also. Journalists, coming through the elite media schools, also found themselves aligning with the anti-Capitalist view of Socialists and Communists, who had gained a strong hold within academia, and pushed forth their nostrums on how things should work. Mind you, the MSM has never done a thorough reporting, analysis and going over of the foundations of Socialism nor its problematical attempts to gain power in a way that Marx would *not* applaud.

That movement from watchdog to 'advocate' changed the way the MSM viewed itself, viewed its role and viewed the Public. Taking the elitist academic and Socialist viewpoint, the People became the Masses which needed to be 'educated'. Thus the movement from complex reporting to simpler and simplistic reporting, so as to drive these 'Stories' beyond the lowest common denominator to the lowest possible denominator so as to treat the Public as morons. Over time this has led from actual, factual based reporting of times past, to something that is more akin to 'reporting on rumors'. Some of this is driven by the media type, itself, with limited 'air time' pushing to soundbites and reduction of ideas to little tidbits. If it can't fit in 30 seconds, then it goes unreported as *news*. Then 20 seconds. Then 15 seconds. Then 10 seconds. Soon we will be down to the Blipvert and people exploding in their chairs as the information gets compressed down to non-comprehensible noise.

This slow ascendancy of 'The Story' did grow out of the idea of 'Getting the Scoop' or being the first to report on a major event. That, in actuality, gave little in the way of prestige to any news organizations, save in the era when travel was time consuming and getting any report out of a far-off land required having someone there to actually report on it. As that era died, the immediacy of 'The Scoop' started to press things at the bounds of reporting from credible witnesses down to the witness of one. And then that individual became the center of the 'The Story'. If anyone remembers the era before the 'Up Close and Personal' era of 'The Story', then one remembers that era in which trying to make sense of the news actually required having some background on what was going on and putting it into a contextual framework. By moving to the 'Personal' that requirement disappears as anyone can give opinion from personal perspective. What that rarely is, however, is *news*. Nor is it likely a reporting on assured *facts*.

These simultaneous forces arrived us to the last decade of reporting in which scare mongering and 'Personal Stories' drove reporting. Suddenly it was all about individuals! Who would it be this week? Monica! Chandra! Jon Benet! Laci! Anette! Personal suffering then gets applied to the entire set of the Masses, so things like 'The Summer of the Shark' were inflicted upon the Public, even those who had never seen an ocean. Mind you some interesting tid bits are put forth, but the actual chance of getting bitten by a Bull Shark while succumbing to the flotsam of the Mississippi are quite low. Infinitesimal, really. This is what the majority of news comes down to in these days: getting 'The Story' on the 'Up Close and Personal' scale. And damn the facts if they don't happen to fall neatly into those.

Of course that has not stopped the MSM! Now, instead of facts driving 'The Story', it is now determined that facts can be created to support 'The Story'.... any 'Story'. Thus we come to an era of 'Fake, but Accurate' reporting, which is an oxymoron as the fake and falsified are not portraying the actual and accurate picture of what is being presented. Making up things is creating something known as: Fiction.

Mind you, Walter Duranty was able to do just that when no one could check up on him. And to get slanted, State supplied stories from a dictator, CNN Chief News Executive Eason Jordan agreed to muzzle its reporting of Iraq starting in 1990 so as to 'get access' to the Nation so that we could get such created incidents as the claim that bombing a suspected chem/bio weapons complex was actually the bombing of a 'Baby Milk Factory', by Peter Arnett. So when we get to Dan Rather doing a hit piece on President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard based on phony documents, the field had been well prepared to put fiction forward as 'truth'. Thus the MSM, itself, could now have the nefarious 'gate' suffix applied to it: Rathergate was born. And in 1999, Columbia Journalism Review did a piece on the Bloopers of the Century by John Leo, which gives fair background to the misprinted, misapprehended and outright fraudulent media reports of the 20th century.

In another area, the clear warnings about misrepresentation and fabrication had been signaled a decade before the problem actually cropped up in a noticeable manner. This is in the area of photo-manipulation via software so that images are no longer an accurate depiction of what is seen in them. Of course this had been an MSM mainstay for decades, and the grocery store yellow press has always had fun crafting together heads and bodies and suchlike to put sensational news stories forward. The Public knows this is sensationalism, not 'real reporting', and treats it as such. More conspicuously, however, was the attempts by the USSR and other Communist Nations to manipulate their photo-archives so as to eliminate people who had fallen out of favor and become 'undesirable'. Only the printed versions remained in archives, and it took a good reader with long memory to spot the changes. Often years would go by before they would come to light.

As scanning technology and digital image capture came into being, the ability to encapsulate that entire suite of tools into software also emerged. Personal memories of attending print and new media forums, such as the Seybold Seminars and PRINT meetings, brought this issue up as far back as 1994 and regularly thereafter. The ability to manipulate images impinges upon the capture of actual, real reality, and suddenly makes still and motion image capture untrustworthy as a source document for history. This was addressed, as was the eroding newspaper reading numbers, by the MSM with the idea that: 'don't worry, we can handle it, it is not a problem'. To take such a cavalier attitude by those that like to think that news is the 'first cut' of history itself, is somewhat amazing.

Do note that they still haven't addressed their declining readership numbers, either.

Thus when the entire 'fauxtography' problem came to light during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the MSM reaction was one of indignation, first, then finally admitting to one instance of photomanipulation by one individual. Then a second one from that individual. Then a third... Reuters was forced to pull ALL of that individual's photographs and *still* would not admit to lack of oversight or even interest beyond its reputation. And now that one part of the MSM has still not come clean on this, and the tools are cheap and prevalent to do photomanipulation, suspicion arises of other images.

What is required is accountability for these documents that are the actual source documents for historical analysis. Heretofore the MSM has not had to do that, as the cost of keeping and maintaining physical archives is prohibitive. As was noted in the Seybold Seminars of the mid-1990's THAT era was ending. Cheap digital storage would soon be seen as supplanting physical storage, and as the price per gigabyte came down from the stratosphere to dirt cheap, the ability to archive goes from an expensive proposition that is impracticable to one that is readily affordable as a 'cost of doing business'.

Indeed, there are tens, if not hundreds, of image hosting services for the Professional Graphics Artist and Photoartist, who keep track of licensing, copyright and such for a relatively low price over time. This was gone over by me previously here, in what some individuals started to call 'The Photojournalist's Code of Ethics in the Digital Age'. That was not the goal of that document, but to offer, instead, a relatively easy and practical way for those working in the photography business for news publications of events to have a way to deal with their own honesty and to demonstrate that they have nothing to hide in this era. Further it is a call for the MSM to open their full photo archives for examination and review. Doing this would then fulfill the journalistic view of being the ones to take the 'first cut of history' by saving all the bits and pieces they snipped out and making them available upon request. These are no longer sequestered documents that belong to the very few, but are a recording of people, events, times and places that can be definitively placed within History.

The MSM saying: 'Trust us. We know what we are doing' is both patronizing and paternalistic, especially when they have patently proven to NOT know what they are doing in this realm. And, as many of these very same media individuals and organizations were represented at industry forums where such things were posed as the future problems of the industry, as a whole, saying that 'we never expected this could happen' is extremely disingenuous. Condescending paternalism, patronizing attitudes and reactionary claims of ignorance are none of them trademarks of an industry that is being open and honest with the Public, which just happens to be the consumer of their output.

The 'fauxtography' problems did not end there, however, as individuals were seen as choreographing, orchestrating and creating events for journalists, so as to give good 'photo-ops'. Blindly accepting and publishing such things without *any* caveats about time, place, event and who was there beyond those seen in the images, removes such images from context. Lax editorial control and copy editing then allows images to be re-cast in any light, whatsoever, and the bias has been heavily against the United States, Israel and the West in general. By presenting staged events as 'real' events, the MSM is complicit in spreading propaganda without stating that it IS propaganda. And to actually resolve if an event is 'real' or staged, or has improperly done or manipulated photographs added TO the event requires more than just editorial board oversight. When one steps into the Image Science field covering actual sensor capability and recording artifacts, one needs those same Image Scientists and other forensic scientists to uncover fraud, staging and improper insertion or deletion of images from a timeline. A suspect photojournalist is one thing. Detecting a staged hoax or created event from distributed images amongst multiple sources is quite another. That steps beyond the realm of what an editorial board can do, save to make its archives open for investigation so that cases of fraud, deceit and manipulation can be uncovered.

These are not 'just nice things to do', but are a securing of historical events with the most openness possible so that all of humanity can come to understand what these events were, why they took place and what their final impact upon humanity actually *is*.

Finally, as the Bloopers show, the print media has had similar problems for decades, beyond mere misprints and showing headlines based on supposition. The print media and investigative journalism section of the MSM have had problems in abundance feeling the squeeze between declining circulation, decreased advertising revenues, and individuals drifting to careers in other parts of the industry. This has so damaged them that concepts like actually understanding the 'Home Beat', or local issues becomes secondary to putting out anything that is eye-grabbing. This has gone so far that the once stalwart Washington Post now no longer understands how the Federal Budgetary cycle works, running smear pieces and having no investigative reporting ability.

This has been a self-repeating process within the MSM for decades, now, that has slowly inculcated an anti-government, elitist attitude towards the Public and the Nation. In point of fact there is a sharp and hard disconnect between the MSM and the Public on perceptions of just what is and is not worth fighting for and why. The current, continual drumbeat of anti-Americanism has reached the point where the ability of the MSM to report on *anything*, save pure Hollywood Elite Paparazzi mongering, is called into question. While this does play well to Leftist Academia, which gobbles up such detritus at an alarming rate, the feedback of that Academia and Elitist culture into the MSM and then purported to be 'wisdom' gets such oxymoronic ideas as there being such things as 'Popular Armed Political Parties' that are 'legitimate' and representative of anything more than their thuggish abuse of the people under their control. That is not only anti-democratic, but it is dangerous for *any* Free People to espouse, lest the pathway back to tyranny be opened by doing so. To so twist meanings around to make an 'Armed Political Party' out as 'legitimate' is an exercise in Newspeak.

The current imbroglio with Capt. Jamil Hussein, Flopping Aces and AP is yet another episode in the disintegration of the overall MSM as their penchant for needing to create news now overtakes the actual events that ARE news. And the attitude taken by AP is exactly the same as that of Reuters: defend the reporting, deny allegations, present no corroboration of stories and attack those doing the questioning. Instead of doing their job, as they have described it [bolding is mine]:

APME Statement of Ethical Principles
(Adopted 1994 as revision to APME Code of Ethics)

These principles are a model against which news and editorial staff members can measure their performance. They have been formulated in the belief that newspapers and the people who produce them should adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct.

The public's right to know about matters of importance is paramount. The newspaper has a special responsibility as surrogate of its readers to be a vigilant watchdog of their legitimate public interests.

No statement of principles can prescribe decisions governing every situation. Common sense and good judgment are required in applying ethical principles to newspaper realities. As new technologies evolve, these principles can help guide editors to insure the credibility of the news and information they provide. Individual newspapers are encouraged to augment these APME guidelines more specifically to their own situations.


The good newspaper is fair, accurate, honest, responsible, independent and decent. Truth is its guiding principle.

It avoids practices that would conflict with the ability to report and present news in a fair, accurate and unbiased manner.

The newspaper should serve as a constructive critic of all segments of society. It should reasonably reflect, in staffing and coverage, its diverse constituencies. It should vigorously expose wrongdoing, duplicity or misuse of power, public or private. Editorially, it should advocate needed reform and innovation in the public interest. News sources should be disclosed unless there is a clear reason not to do so. When it is necessary to protect the confidentiality of a source, the reason should be explained.

The newspaper should uphold the right of free speech and freedom of the press and should respect the individual's right to privacy. The newspaper should fight vigorously for public access to news of government through open meetings and records.


The newspaper should guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortion through emphasis, omission or technological manipulation.

It should acknowledge substantive errors and correct them promptly and prominently


The newspaper should strive for impartial treatment of issues and dispassionate handling of controversial subjects. It should provide a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism, especially when such comment is opposed to its editorial positions. Editorials and expressions of personal opinion by reporters and editors should be clearly labeled. Advertising should be differentiated from news.

The newspaper should report the news without regard for its own interests, mindful of the need to disclose potential conflicts. It should not give favored news treatment to advertisers or special-interest groups.

It should report matters regarding itself or its personnel with the same vigor and candor as it would other institutions or individuals. Concern for community, business or personal interests should not cause the newspaper to distort or misrepresent the facts.

The newspaper should deal honestly with readers and newsmakers. It should keep its promises.

The newspaper should not plagiarize words or images.


The newspaper and its staff should be free of obligations to news sources and newsmakers. Even the appearance of obligation or conflict of interest should be avoided.

Newspapers should accept nothing of value from news sources or others outside the profession. Gifts and free or reduced-rate travel, entertainment, products and lodging should not be accepted. Expenses in connection with news reporting should be paid by the newspaper. Special favors and special treatment for members of the press should be avoided.

Journalists are encouraged to be involved in their communities, to the extent that such activities do not create conflicts of interest.

Involvement in politics, demonstrations and social causes that would cause a conflict of interest, or the appearance of such conflict, should be avoided.

Work by staff members for the people or institutions they cover also should be avoided.

Financial investments by staff members or other outside business interests that could create the impression of a conflict of interest should be avoided.

Stories should not be written or edited primarily for the purpose of winning awards and prizes. Self-serving journalism contests and awards that reflect unfavorably on the newspaper or the profession should be avoided.

That comes from the Ethics code: Associated Press Managing Editors 1999 updated 04 MAY 2004.

So what is being done is *not* to question the actual, physical reality of Capt. Hussein.

AP had the Ethical responsibility to answer that question and investigate any problems and report those problems to the Public. Instead it attacked those asking questions and asked 'how dare they question an organization that has such an upstanding reputation?'

Very well then.

Since AP has now made that Primary it is then absolutely and completely fair to ask:
Why are you endangering both your ethics and reputation by not answering
the question?

Those doing the original questioning were not questioning the Ethics of AP.

Now I am.

Hold yourself accountable to your own damned standards, or admit that they are worthless to you and that you only serve yourselves and NOT the Public.

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