Saturday, August 26, 2006

This is refreshing

I came across this blog posting (via Media Matters) by a reporter for the Pilly Inquirer and was really glad to see that at least one journalist has not gone crazy (unlike this guy). For far too long it seems that journalism has become the practice of just writing down what somebody says and leaving it at that. This practice, for whatever reason is called 'being objective' and while it is in a broad sense objective it leads to stories which take the following form (x said p, y said ~p) and the reporter evades any responsibility for the veracity of p.

However, the job of the reporter is to uncover the truth. That means, determining the truth value of p (x said p, p is true/false) and that gets us to some real sense of objectivity. Take, for instance, one of the issues that drove me crazy during the build-up to the Iraq war-- the aluminum tubes. The U.S. press faithfully reported the Bush administration's assertion that these were used for enriching uranium and left it at that (with the obligitory reference from the Iraqi government stating they were not used for that purpose). Yet, if you were lucky enough to listen to the reporting from the BBC at that time, it was possible to hear nuclear experts explain that the tubes could not have been used for that purpose.

I now fear that the exact same thing will happen with Iran. Right now the intelligence regarding Iran is sketchy at best, and this will allow for some Bush official to say something about the impending apocalypse. The press will be too lazy to figure out if the assertion is true and we will meander ignorantly towards another military fiasco (on the bright side, the stocks I own on Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood will go through the roof).

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