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I haven't even finished the NYRB article, yet, but several things jumped out at me:

1. I saw this repeated several times yesterday, and again at the beginning of the NYRB article: "Today's political pressures too often breed in journalists a tendency toward self-censorship..." Self-censorship implies to me that the person doing the censoring has decided on their own to do the censoring. The implication in the article, however, seems to be that this "self-censoring" is being "forced" on journalists. Seems like an oxymoron to me. Am I missing something here? Sounds to me like journalists are their own worst enemy.

2. The NYRB article quotes a memo from an LA Times reporter to his editor:

"I am completely exasperated by this approach to the news. The idea seems to be that we go out to report but when it comes time to write we turn our brains off and repeat the spin from both sides. God forbid we should...attempt to fairly assess what we see with our own eyes. "Balanced" is not fair, it's just an easy way of avoiding real reporting and shirking our responsibility to inform readers."

What a load of crap!

Isn't "...we go out to report..." and "...repeat the spin from both sides..." called "reporting the news," and "...attempt to fairly assess what we see with our own eyes..." called opinion and commentary? As the reporter concludes, that *is* the problem. Only thing is, he has it backasswards. And, I love the way he says "fairly assess." Uh, yeah, right, Mr. "Balanced-is-not-fair."

I live in a town big enough to have the usual urban stories. Bums, crack, cops, stealing and politicos. I know which are the cop bars, the drug bars, the working bars and the beautiful people bars. I know which bartenders have been at it for forty years. I know old cab drivers that used to be fishermen and carpenters till their bodies gave out. So I know where to find someone who knows, before the bodies turn up. None of the local reporters know these people. I've met the town reporters for the local rag. Not bad people, but clueless and all time serving until the big league papers call. They don't, even after years, know what's going on in town. Reality for them is doing a local slant on a big paper story a few weeks later after. The vast majority of Americans are working class, and small business. Say 80 percent. The news business covers crack crime and celebrities. I don't know of a business that ignores 80% of the customers base and expects to thrive, save journalist. The phrase "Stuck on stupid", comes to mind.

This is admittedly slightly off-topic but it goes to press coverage and the quality thereof. I'm referring to the story of the ice rink collapse in southern Germany. It's certainly a sad occasion and all of our sympathies should go to the victims and their families who have had such a bad start to the new year.

However, one thing I haven't seen in the coverage (at least on this side of the ocean) is how this situation is symptomatic of the decline and fall of German society. "They don't care about the children!", etc., etc. Yes, I'm being a bit absurd, but I can't help but think about the German press's tendency to take every natural and man-made disaster in the US and turn it into a judgment about the moral worth of an entire country. As I said in a previous post, things happen, people die, sometimes people are to blame even (as is possibly the case here). But there is a certain sense of perspective that the German press seems to have thrown entirely out the window when it comes to the US that fortunately we haven't reciprocated. So far, all the news reports I've seen on the ice rink disaster (desastre?) are just that, news reports. To borrow a phrase from the post above, they haven't become "stuck on stupid" in the way much of the reporting of the US seems to fall prey to.

I'll agree with kcom; all of the reporting I seen on that so far has been "this is what happened, this is when it happened, this is who it happened to", which to me is what reporting should be.

@Carl: You are absolutely correct. I live in a town that is probably about the same size as yours. I have met some media people here, and most of them are just punching the clock while waiting for the call-up from a larger media outlet. Massing's article did contain one tiny grain of truth, when he mentioned how celebrity-obsessed the media is and how they are cut off from the disadvantaged. Only he missed the extent of it: the media people are cut off not only from the disadvantaged, but from pretty much *all* other Americans. I've been getting a chuckle lately about this panic the media has created concerning the real estate "bubble" that supposedly exists in the United States. Of course they have reached this conclusion based on what they see happening (or what they want to happen) in Manhattan and Hollywood -- markets that are anomalous even in comparison to other big U.S. cities, not to mention the rest of America.

"Journos" are also getting laid off, hence the econ doom-and-gloom.

Gee,

This looks more like a book report on a book review. Do you realize, in most educational institutions if you were to present something like this you would end up appearing in front of some student honor court.

Is this the level of professionalism euro M$M wants for the US?

Interesting how in the New York Review of Books article, the system is portrayed as not allowing reporters to be as "left" as they would like--toning down anti-Bush, anti-(Republican) Congress, anti-business, and anti-Iraq War sentiments. I didn't notice a single scathing expose of a liberal individual or issue getting blocked. The mainstream press in the U.S. certainly tilts left, but apparently not as far as many reporters would like.

And these reporters seeming impotence about doing stories doesn't seem to have infected bloggers, who have far fewer resources than a reporter for the NY Times or CBS, but presevere none the less. These whinning reporters not only want to be able to portray their prejudices as news, they want to be pampered, praised, spoiled and well-paid as they do so.

OT, but you might want to give this its own thread, Mark Steyn - a long one but straight to the point.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007760

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries....

what's this about d-man?
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3242

hey sandypants, just because your lame ass hasnt started to fight doesnt mean we've lost, ok? hmm?

doom-and-gloom, sign of coward...

what's this about d-man?
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3242

hey sandypants, just because your lame ass hasnt started to fight doesnt mean we've lost, ok? hmm?

doom-and-gloom, sign of coward...

These whinning reporters not only want to be able to portray their prejudices as news,...

That's the insult

they want to be pampered, praised, spoiled and well-paid as they do so.

And that's adding injury to the insult. Not only do they want us to accept their bias as actual news, they want praise for it and lots of money, too. And then on top of that they want us to buy the proposition that they are being "brave" in saying what they say. They aren't brave. When is the last time any reporter anywhere in the US (or Germany, for that matter) got fired, jailed, or killed for expressing an opinion. Calling themselves brave is an insult to every journalist in every country around the world who takes his life in his hands every time he reports - for instance in Lebanon (two recent assassinations), in Zimbabwe (arrests and torture), in Iraq, in Egypt, in Cuba, etc. etc. etc.

Oops, I got my insult and injury switched around. My mistake.

Here in the USA this would get you fired or you would resign.

The news is who, what, when and where; all confirmed via mutliple sources. What often passes for news isn't.

No, it's not plagerism. It's groupthink.

And this is going to be my own personal pinata party.

The coverage of Katrina was not bold. It was shameless sensationalism. How many people died in the Superdome? How many rapes were there? blah blah blah. To note the failures of FEMA took about as much boldness as it takes me to cross the street.

In a previous article, I described many of the external pressures besetting journalists today, including a hostile White House, aggressive conservative critics, and greedy corporate owners

Show me a White House that has not been hostile to the press. Washington journos masterbate in public over their obligation to the public to play the role of adversary to the WH - 'speak truth to power' - and then note the inevitable result in a sulk. The Clintons didn't love you either.

Aggressive conservative critics? The 'agressive' in that phrase means that they no longer can be ignored. Guess what? All that accountiblity you want everyone else to be held to? Be careful what you ask for. "Greedy' corporations - I love this one. The MSM is losing money hand over fist and is answerable to stockholders. Don't like it? Start a newsletter and see if anyone is willing to pay your sorry ass for it.

but rather on the structural problems that keep the press from fulfilling its responsibilities to serve as a witness to injustice and a watchdog over the powerful.

What structural problem prevented CNN from reporting on the atrocities committed by Saddam, a 'responsibility' they confessed to abdicating?
Well, let's see:
a reliance on "access," an excessive striving for "balance," an uncritical fascination with celebrities. Equally important is the increasing isolation of much of the profession from disadvantaged Americans and the difficulties they face. Finally, and most significantly, there's the political climate in which journalists work. Today's political pressures too often breed in journalists a tendency toward self-censorship, toward shying away from the pursuit of truths that might prove unpopular, whether with official authorities or the public.

Yeah. If they had reported the truth from Baghdad, Saddam would have at best kicked them out and CNN would have lost out to its competitors, which led to self-censorship and shying away from truths that might have proved unpopular with the Baath party and Uday and Qusay, those paragons of truth, tolerance and free speech.

Do you see where I can go with this?

It is so much more clever to bootstrap one's pathological need for self-praise by bemoaning moral failures in the face of supposed voting irregularities in St. Louis. All you have to do is apologize to every race pimp in the country. It sure beats having to face the surviving families of all those people Saddam was murdering while you protected your asses - oh - access.

@Niko
(A) Terrorist Yassir Arafat being rushed in critical condition to a hospital,

Niko, Niko, Niko. You omitted the salient point. Allow me:
(A) Terrorist Yassir Arafat being rushed in critical condition to a hospital,in Fwance

You're welcome. See you tomorrow.

My husband was with 2 friends w/whom we disagree in politics.

My husband stated he was dead - they were very surprised. what the hell did they think by his condition was stable?

room temperature stable.

You can't hide the fact that the German Press is very cynical of the U.S.A. Negativity is what sells in the press. But thank God the Germans, and all free people, have the right to be cynical if they want to be. I just hope they will make their decisions and choices based on truth and not on poor translations. (Which I've seen a lot of by living in Germany.)

I've lived in Germany several years now and I've seen this negativity towards the U.S.A. and even twisting of the facts. The U.S.A. tries to see Germany in a positive way, almost always. Most white Americans and Canadians are part German, and they want to take pride in their German heritage. They are happy to buy your BMW's and Mercedes and VW's, and think of them as status symbols.
They will be coming to your country to watch the World Cup too, and will invest millions here.

However the Russians didn't have any German Heritage. Stalin, had he taken all of Germany, and if he wasn't under any restraints of the U.S.A., would have slaughtered most Germans. He had no problem slaughtering his own people, why would he hesitate slaughtering the enemy? After all, 20 million Russians lost their lives due to Germany's desire for WWII. We think 1000 dead people are lot!

In my opinion, Germany needs an 'attitude of gratitude'. So many worst things could have happened to Germany. The worst scenario would have been Hitler winning WWII, and killing off whoever he hated in mass death camps. When would the bloodshed ever end if Hitler would have won? There would be no justice left in Europe right now. And probably no Internet! It was the Americans who invested in Computers during WWII. The Nazis didn't think it was a worth while pursuit. Another bad decision on their part...

Its easy to be cynical of the Big Guy. But lucky for Germany that the Big Guy loves little Germany, despite it being such an ungrateful and cynical pain in the ass sometimes. Many Blessings!

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