Journalism: the best option for creative writing majors who can’t seem to finish their first novel.
Not convinced? I know it may seem to be a daunting transition, but apparently investigating and reporting the straight facts is more difficult than churning out a mass work of fiction.
I am not talking about every journalist out there. Some of them really try to get to the bottom of things. But those endeavors tend to take up too much time, and for news outlets trying to crank out news round the clock, it’s a hassle they’re less willing to put up with. It’s not as if the public will ever stop watching or reading the news, so what is the harm in dressing a dry turkey in cranberry sauce to make it more appealing?
The people who participate in or condone this kind of journalism don’t care a lick about media consumers. They care about our money. Hence, the heinous coverage of the two explosions at the Boston Marathon.
First, it was the “Saudi national” described over and over as a “person of interest.”
What’s his ethnicity got to do with anything?
Why was he considered a POI?
A “civilian” saw the man running from the explosion, ran after him and tackled him. Police followed the man to the hospital and questioned him. I think I might run away from an explosion, too.
Wouldn’t anybody? Finally, the media clarified he was being treated as a witness, but it was too late to take back that kind of damage.
Salah Eddin Barhoum was featured on the front page of the New York Post with his friend Yassine Zaime. The headline: “Bag men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.” Barhoum told The Associated Press he has been afraid to go outside ever since for fear of being blamed for the attack.
The Tsarnaev brothers of Chechnya were soon the target of slanted media coverage. The evidence is piled up pretty high; it would be hard to argue that they probably aren’t the culprits. But news coverage insisted on the Islamic-extremist angle. These are a few of my most hated things:
Mother Jones, self-described source of “smart, fearless journalism,” published “What These Tweets Tell Us About Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.” In the lead to the story, the magazine editorializes, telling the reader the selected tweets are odd, mundane and chilling. This tweet is included in the introduction: “The value of human life ain’t shit nowadays.” But near the end of the piece, you see what the tweet actually said:
“The value of human life ain’t shit nowadays that’s #tragic.”
Slate.com published “Meet the Muslims Quoted, Cited, and Favorited by the Boston Bombing Suspects.”
TheDailyBeast.com published “The Sheikh Who May Have Influenced Boston’s Tsarnaev Brothers.”
Bloomberg.com published “Chechen Conflict Spawned Terrorism With Separatist Jihad.”
Here is the problem with these headlines and the pathetic attempts at journalism that follow: They make this crime about more than the suspects. The stories attempt to establish a connection between the suspects and Islam. Ever since 9/11, there has been a limited subset of the Muslim community represented in our media.
We see bodies, gun fire and explosions. We also saw just a slice of life there, which is all that the media portrays.
There are endless perspectives; nobody sees eye to eye on everything, and we never will. But we put ourselves in a dangerous position when we limit ourselves to the few viewpoints available in the mainstream media. There is no objectivity. We have our perspective. It is informed by our biological tendencies — DNA and such — and everything we experience from birth until death. The mainstream media is such a ubiquitous part of our lives now that it is essential we view it through a critical lens. Everything you see may be there in reality, but that doesn’t mean it is an accurate portrayal. It is one of many possible ways of seeing, none of which is wrong, just different. See what’s out there, and make up your own mind about what you believe.