Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, December 04, 2006

Circle The Wagons Tighter, Boys!

Yesterday, I wrote about the questions of AP's reporting in Iraq,
And so it goes with criticisms of mainstream media. The MSM themselves circle the wagons. An attack on AP is an attack on the NYT is an attack on the LAT is an attack on WaPo ... is an attack on the Globe.
Today, NYT business writer Tom Zeller proved me right, as he hitched the NYT wagon a few feet closer to AP's in a piece that presumably probed all elements of the story ... but in the end, ended up supporting AP's view:
Then there was The Associated Press itself, which by Friday had come to view the continued scrutiny of its article as evidence that everyone — the military, the blogosphere, even other media outlets tracking the back-and-forth — was either agenda-driven, insolent, or both, but not legitimately curious.
Zeller never pulls back to look at this incident in perspective, which is why he can goose-step so well with AP. He doesn't report on the ongoing reporting by blogs of false reports and photos that have dogged the media in this conflict as in no other. Over the years, there have been dozens of stories of doctoring the news by Reuters, AP, the NYT and others, but if you look at the howl over Hurriyah alone, you can easily see it as far too much adieu about far too little.

Instead of reporting this history of inquiry, he launches into to asides: The military and the Iraqi government try to spin the news too ...

As The Associated Press reminded everyone in September, the Pentagon is not without its own public relations agenda. It awarded a $12 million, two-year contract to the Lincoln Group, a public relations firm in Washington, to keep tabs on English and Arabic media sources and produce “public-relations-type products” for American forces in Iraq, A.P. reported. This is the same company that was found last year to be buying positive coverage in Iraqi newspapers as part of an American military operation.

There are also important questions that can be raised about the steps taken by Iraq’s interior ministry to control reporting on the streets, to steer journalists toward “official” channels of information, and to threaten those who seek independent sources.

... and all this inquiry raises the troubling spectre of restrictions on freedom of the press:

Iraq’s interior ministry wielded the article like a bludgeon and used it as an opportunity to create a press monitoring unit that suggested, in no uncertain terms, that reporters in Baghdad should come to its press officers for “real, true news.” A ministry spokesman promised “legal action” — whatever that might mean — against journalists who publish information the agency deemed wrong.

As to the Lincoln Group, their existence would not be necessary if we had a press corps made up of Ernie Pyles. But so long as the press does not see itself as American and in support of America's security and peace, Lincoln Groups are necessary. As a PR person myself, I am certain that their work is scrutinized by lawyers and military officials to ensure accuracy, because if they're caught just once in an inaccuracy, they're toast.

Unlike AP.

As for the threats against their journalistic integrity, how about showing some? What's wrong, after all, with going to the Iraqi government for confirmation of a story before running it? Well, for starters, it would get in the way of a juicy headline, if the Iraqi government had been given the chance to tell AP before it ran the story, that according to their records, the primary sources of the story, Capt Jamil Hussein, simply does not exist.

News organizations are utterly blind to their biases because they worship before the Goddess of Objectivity and must see themselves as pure. To do this, they've simply created their own definition of pureness, and by this definition they've done well with their reporting of the incident at Hurriyah. It's just that the real world doesn't share their definition.

Related Tags: , , , , ,