Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Political Tuesdays: Media and a Crisis of Confidence

As I've been following news coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict, it has been dawning on me that I cannot trust the news media to present developing events in an unbiased manner.

This is really nothing new.  I was backstage at the Rally for Life in 1990 when a crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands spontaneously turned to the media enclosure and chanted "tell the truth" for quite some time, in protest of entrenched media bias against the pro-life movement.  It was an iconic moment, and since then I've never quite been able to accept at face value the formula dished out by mainstream media.  I'm still a news junkie, just a somewhat cynical and suspicious news junkie.

The kind of coverage you see greatly depends upon the media outlet you choose as a consumer.  If I only read the Columbian (our local newspaper) I would know little beyond the current status of the legal marijuana shops in town.  I have an app on my Kindle that lets me read the Washington Post, and I'm enjoying having well-written articles on a world and national scale to read.  But the news feeds I choose to "like" on Facebook tend to lead in quite a different direction.  The cognitive dissonance is troubling, and leads me to question the most reputable of sources.

"Mainstream" media would have me believe that peaceful Palestinians live in Gaza under terrible threat from the warlike Israelis, who target mainly U.N.-run hospitals and schools.  Graphic photos show only one side of the story.  But the video by Dennis Prager I shared last week sticks in my mind.  I'm starting to question whether every mainstream outlet has a streak of anti-semitism.  Or is it just that Israel is a stable and relatively safe destination to fly into for journalists, and Hamas has a good public relations system and an abundant supply of gut-wrenching photos?  I don't see nearly the same amount of coverage, particularly photo coverage, from Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria -- all places where the death toll is vastly more than in Gaza.  But how safe would it be for a reporter to visit these places (assuming there was any desire to cover atrocities committed by Muslims)?  Maybe the very abundance of pictures from Israel tells us something about the stability and security of Israel -- and the laziness and corruption of those who publish only one side of the story.

If it bleeds, it leads.  As long as you have pictures and pre-packaged text that supports your

No comments: