Sunday, September 03, 2006

Timid And Intimidated - The Main Stream Media

By now I’m so used to our main stream media (MSM) being timid and intimidated by concern for Moslem sensitivities, that I almost didn’t notice another grievous example. Fortunately, Marc Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times columnist, called my attention to it.

Almost not in the news was the coerced conversion to Islam of two kidnapped Fox reporters. In all the TV and print news interviews, salient questions were never raised about their forced “conversions,” or if they were going to stay “converted.”

We assumed their conversions were life-saving ploys, but mustn’t there be more to the story? When will they announce publicly that it was a sham? Or is there a reason they are going to keep quiet? Do they feel their actions might affect the treatment of future captives? Inquiring minds don’t want to know, and they’re the ones who file the stories we see on TV or in the newspapers. Apparently, as far as our news makers are concerned, if you avoided noticing the elephant sitting on the sofa in the middle of the room, it didn’t exist.

Is this another case of the MSM compromising their journalistic ethics to spare Moslem sensibilities? If so, why no similar concern for Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist feelings? Shouldn’t Christians have been spared pictures of such “art” as Piss Christ, or Virgin Mary Decorated with Elephant Dung and Vagina Photos? Shouldn’t Jews be spared “cartoons” such as a nude Ariel Sharon devouring Arab babies? Why did Moslems sanction the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas?

Myself, and many much, much wider read bloggers (Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Atlas Shrugs, Power Line, Captains Quarters), reported extensively on the Danish Mohammad cartoons. The MSM didn’t.

Bloggers have exposed Reuters, Associated, CBS News, etc., not reporting faked and staged news and photos. The MSM haven’t. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one of the International Red Cross ambulance “hit by an Israeli rocket” screams out that it wasn’t, that the Red Cross and Lebanese lied about the attack, and that the silence of the MSM sanctions the lie.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Look at the picture. The hole is where an air vent was removed.

Look at the next picture. No blast or burn damage at all. A Fourth of July rocket would have done more damage.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

MSM, are you trying to tell us that not one of you had the news sense, the common sense, to see photos that couldn’t possibly support the story of a rocket attack? And then, when it is obvious that the MSM has fallen for a crude deception, how can that not become a major story? Are all the MSM journalists pledged to cover their colleagues’ butts?

I wrote The San Francisco Chronicle about the above, and remarked that “journalistic integrity” is an oxymoron. The Chronicle studiously avoids any discussions of journalistic shortcomings, while headlining stories such as “A Smashing Finale to Lunar Mission,” superimposed on an enormous photo/artist’s conception of a European spacecraft and the Moon. This was an event that was to occur later in the day, with the kind of soft news significance that might place it in the middle of the first section on a slow news day.

Less than a month ago, a photojournalist named Bryan Denton unequivocally posted on that he personally witnessed staged photo shoots in Lebanon involving dead bodies, including some unearthed from graves to be posed and photographed. Naturally, he was attacked by fellow photojournalists for impugning the profession in the eyes of the public. Some predicted terrible consequences, such as right-wing bloggers seizing upon his disclosure to heap criticism on biased war coverage. They got that right. Few seemed concerned that the profession should be vigilant to avoid giving cause for criticism. They seem to have got that right, too, since the MSM has absolutely no interest in cleaning up their own act.

I’ve noted that journalists have only one marketable commodity, one that’s hard to describe with one word. It actually is a concept, encompassing objectivity, integrity, honesty, judgment, professionalism – oh, now I remember. It’s called “journalism.”

Somehow, given recent events, it’s hard to imagine that journalism once aspired to those high ideals. Maybe it never did, and it took bloggers independently analyzing photos and cross-checking facts to uncover the secret of journalism’s rotten core.

If you’re a member of the “MSM club,” that’s the sort of thing you don’t do.

ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE (I wish. It doesn't look like anything will light a fire under the MSM.)

By Andy Levin: This post by LS Bryan Denton now confirms some of the questions about the staging of photos. While I personally have come to the conclusion that all of this is secondary to the horror of this war, the idea that this is going on in Lebanon is unsavory and undercuts the work of all photographers, including those who I am certain find this distasteful and do not want to participate in it. I am glad that someone had the courage to come forward and speak openly about this—and it’s understandable why anyone still in the field wouldn’t. Here is the post:

i have been working in Lebanon since all this started, and seeing the behavior of many of the Lebanese wire service photographers has been a bit unsettling. while hajj has garnered a lot of attention for his doctoring of images digitally, whether guilty or not, i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one case where a group of wire photogs were coreographing the unearthing of bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and this itself is a bigger ethical problem.

whatever the case is—lack of training, a personal drive as a photographer to show what is happening to your country in as powerful a way as possible, or all out competitiveness, i think that the onus is on the wire services themselves, because they act as the employer/filter of their photogs work. standards should be in place or else the rest of us end up paying the price. and i’m not against the idea of local wire photographers, but after seeing it over and over for the past month, i think it is something that is worth addressing. while i walk away from a situation like that, one wire shooter sets up a situation, and the rest of them follow…....

by Bryan Denton Fri Aug 11 07:36:08 UTC 2006 Beirut, Lebanon

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