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imperialism & war | media criticism

American Journalism: Portrait of Shame

The pictures are finally beginning to trickle in: Iraqis in hoods and chains dangling electrodes, dead civilians, dead soldiers. At last, we begin to see the real cost of war. Now. When it's too fucking late.
If American journalists had done their job when the world trade center fell,
when talk of war began, when lies about weapons of mass destruction started
to pervade the airwaves, we would not be here now. Hundreds of young soldiers and thousands of innocent civilians would still be alive, and our collective soul would not be burning. But journalists did not ask questions. They beat the drums of war and their newscasts became commercials for state-sponsored terror.

We have given American journalists all the power in the world. We have allowed them to dictate the stories we believe as a culture. But they have betrayed us. They sedated us with sweet talk while bushCo dragged us over this cliff. They sat back and led cheers as bushCo sent other people's children off to war, to drop bombs on still other people's children. And they never asked why.

The names of the (American) dead so sanctimoniously pasted in silence to the nations' television screens every night now are mocked by the irony and the hypocrisy. Ted Koppel, who sang the praises of the war machine and rode around the desert in a firmly embedded tank, now wants to be the rebel journalist, wants accolades for reading the names of hundreds of dead soldiers (but no dead Iraqi civilians). Too damn late, Ted. Too damn late.

At last, someone broke bushCo's ban on publishing photographs of the returning dead. Why did they wait so long?

This isn't journalism. It's rats jumping from a sinking ship. This is
sycophantic, corporate yes-men waving flags all the way over the edge of the
cliff, and then realizing we are not back there anymore. We are not
listening, not following. Only then do they put the flags away and cry foul.

Too Damn late.

Where were the "journalists" when this could have been prevented? Why did they not ask the important questions? When bushCo set its sights on ruling the world, when the USA PATRIOT act begat the rampant erosion of civil rights here at home, when bush lied through his teeth about "weapons of mass destruction".... Where were they then?

When war was in the air, the corporate media cowered in corners and droned on about freedom, and patriotism and "our troops." And when the bombs began to rain from the Iraqi skies, on people, remember, American journalists embedded themselves with the war mongers and played the story as if it were all a sporting event.

When we spoke out and bled in the streets, they never asked us why. Instead,
they slew us with stereotypes, they ignored us, and they built consent for
police crackdowns against us. They never questioned the need for riot cops
to attack civilians in the streets of America just as they never questioned
the need for soldiers to attack civilians in the streets of Baghdad. (And all for "our freedom," no less.) These are not journalists. They are mouthpieces for the corporate police state. They have traded integrity for propaganda.
They have given away their calling as journalists and followed the money instead.

Shame. They should be ashamed. If they had done their jobs then, most of
those names they silently read each night would belong to living human
beings, not empty memories. Don't let them buy you back now with a few heavy words about the cost of war. Not when that cost is so unbearably high because they failed to ask questions when they should have.
Punch a corporate media person in the face, be patriotic! 24.May.2004 11:38


There is nothing we can do now to show our utter disgust and rejection of these devils in the media. They are guiltier than the devils in the White House because they have been acting out a fake role all along and they still have not stopped. At least Rumsfeld looks at you and admits being the most evil bastard in the world and dares you to do something about it but hese low-lives dont even have that kind of evil gumption; they are cowardly, liars, vomitable infrahumans. Punch one in the face next time you pass one!!!

When will reporters call Bush a liar? 24.May.2004 13:11

see also


More Journalists Dismayed With Profession 24.May.2004 17:13

By Jennifer Saba

Published: May 24, 2004 12:01 AM EST

NEW YORK More than half of all national journalists (51%) and almost as many local journalists (46%) believe that their profession is off the mark and headed down the wrong path, according to a comprehensive study released today by The Pew Research Center, The Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Committee of Concerned Journalists. The study surveyed 547 national and local journalists from print, online and broadcast media.

Many journalists believe that increased financial pressure is "seriously hurting" the quality of news coverage -- 66% of national newspeople and 57% of local journalists see it this way. That percentage is climbing when compared to past surveys. In 1995, for example, 41% of national and 33% of local journalists expressed this view.

Not surprisingly, those national and local journalists -- about 75% -- who have witnessed newsroom cuts firsthand are among the most worried about the effects of bottom-line pressures, the study said.

In an essay accompanying the study, Bill Kovach of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, and Tom Rosenstiel and Amy Mitchell of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, state that journalists feel that "more than ever the economic behavior of their companies is eroding the quality of journalism. In particular, they think that business pressures are making the news they produce thinner and shallower. And they report more cases of advertisers and owners breaching the independence of the newsroom."

Still, opinions vary about the profession depending on position. Within national organizations, 57% of news executives think the profession is going the right way whereas only 39% of reporters think that's the case.

While many journalists are unhappy with what they perceive as a turn for the worse, the study found no evidence that the USA Today and The New York Times scandals had any impact on their views. "The number of journalists who cite 'ethics and standards' as the biggest problem facing journalism has not grown since 1999," the study said. "In fact, just 5% of national journalists and 6% of local journalists cite ethics or a lack of standards as the biggest problem in journalism, about half as many as in the 1999 survey." And it found that journalists think that plagiarism is no more rampant now than it was in the past.

That said, the study found that credibility was mentioned more than any other concern, and more so with print journalists. Thirty-nine percent of journalists working at national newspapers, magazines and wire services say credibility with the public is the biggest problem facing the industry -- versus 15% of national broadcast journalists. It's echoed at the local level too: 33% of print journalists versus 12% of broadcast journalists.

The concern over credibility swings wildly across age groups. Only 10% of those journalists under 35 think it's the biggest issue the profession is facing while 26% of those 35-54 think it's a concern, and 33% for those 55 and over.

Furthermore, the study said that a growing number of national journalists think that stories are "increasingly full of factual and sloppy reporting from 30% in 1995 to 40% in 1999 to 45% today."

And yet, national newspapers get the highest grade in terms of quality and depth of coverage. Ninety-two percent of national journalists and 80% of local journalists give national newspapers a thumbs up, handing out A and B grades. Major media Web sites also came out on top: 70% of national and 57% of local journalists doled out an A or B.

The decline in readership is not alarming to journalists. Only 15% of print journalists at both national and local levels say it's an important issue.

Nationally 76% of journalists and 77% of local journalists say that management has been addressing ethical issues in the newsroom -- about that same as they did in 1999.

Despite fears for the future, journalists as a whole are happy with leadership in their organizations. Nationally, 30% of journalists say their management is doing an excellent job and 41% say they are doing a good job, the study found. On the local level, 22% give their leaders an excellent rating and 47% give them a good rating.

But overall, things seem grimmer than five years ago. Kovach, Rosenstiel and Mitchell's essay ends on this note: "If five years ago we saw the seeds of change, today we see a trend toward fragmentation among all players involved -- journalists, executives and the public. Not only do they disagree on solutions, they seem further apart on identifying the problems."

Jennifer Saba ( jsaba@editorandpublisher.com) is associate editor for E&P.

we owe each other... 24.May.2004 18:04


...honest journalism, truthful reporting, accurate opinion pieces. Please keep up the good work, folks-we are the media. Catwoman's right (as usual)-the corporate media is corrupt and outdated, a zombie-like corpse. Sure, indymedia is rough but it's got the right idea and is succeeding.