An interview with ex-Reuters bureau chief Andrew MacGregor Marshall is here, in Russia Today. Of course, you already know that the mainstream media are censored. Marshall describes how this censorship is implemented, without any conspiracy or direct interference. It is merely the subtle and persistent pressure of certain editorial norms, and biased standards of evidence.
There are some things that are safe to say and we become conditioned that they are safe to say, and there are other things that … if we say them we are mocked or delegitimized.
Marshall makes the obvious but important point that other people don’t share our prejudices. News stories that seem unbiased to us may sound like total propaganda to them. He cites some examples from his experience in Iraq. This is why we must develop the ability to question and critique all news sources, and seek out differing points of view.
Without the freedom to report on politics and strategy, coverage of the Iraq war(s) degenerated into a daily body count, like the box score of some macabre sporting event. Viewers have no way to process this contextless violence, and so they tune out. They click on a story about – Marshall’s example – Paris Hilton instead.
Jeremiah complains all the time about stupid viewers of stupid stories, and this discussion points to a solution. If a news outlet could show, in some detail, who is behind the violence – and why – that might garner an audience. Why did the Iraqi army disintegrate, for instance? Whose policy mistake was that?
If someone started a news outlet that would place the day’s tragedy in its political and historical context, so that readers could make sense of it, people might just generate actionable ideas that would make a positive change in the world. One can hope.
See also: Written by the Victors