Thursday, January 31, 2008

Letter from kids - does the media lie?

So I should write part III, but it is 5:30 am and I am just getting done for the day, so I thought I would share this instead. A couple of California high school students who are studying about journalism, asked The Grump if I thought the media lied about current events. Here is my response. I'll get part III out this weekend unless I get a breakthrough on a few projects I am working here. By projects, I of course mean scumbags we want out of the picture.

Thank you for your letter, and your question. I am no expert on the news business, but I will give you my perspective.

Whether or not reporters tell the truth is a rather difficult question to answer. While there may be a few reporters out there who do lie to further their own careers, I think that most journalist start their careers with honorable intentions and a desire to tell the truth. And most never lie on purpose, but fail to do a good job of checking their facts. The reality is, especially in a place like Iraq, the truth is very hard to discern. And most reporters here never leave Baghdad, so anything you read in the paper was probably told to the reporter by a source, or a local Iraqi who called the reporter. And sometimes reporters simply report what other reporters wrote.

Plus there is the fact that most Western reporters do not speak the local language, and this will be true for reporting in any non-English speaking country, so all the information comes through an interpreter. The interpreter may get it wrong because they aren't very good in English, and sometimes the interpreter tells the reporter the wrong thing on purpose. Pretty messy and complicated isn't it?

While I have been here in Iraq, I have personally been involved in 2 incidents which were reported in the international media. I saw these things happen with my own eyes and yet they were reported wrong in every report I read. Not 100% wrong, but some important facts were wrong in every news article, and each news article got different things wrong.

This is of course called the Fog of War, and for good reason. I submit that no one knows what the hell is going on in Iraq - it is just too complicated, and everyone reporting information has alterior motives for their reporting, and every time in gets passed on it mutates a little. Like the telephone game on crack.

7 comments:

madtom said...

I would say that's a good answer.
Their best bet, is to read TFW every day. :>

Katana said...

good answer - i'm always a little bit relieved when you'r chillin' online again. glad to know that you are, once again, safe.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Hope said...

KAT!! Are you going soft mama? hehehehehe...I was WAAAAAAAAAY relieved, too.

"D" AKA CI-Roller Dude said...

Grumpy,
How about: USMC takes fire from a house...calls in USAF. USAF jockey drops 1 J-DAM 500 LB- a dude. USMC dude calls for another, also a dude. The 3rd JDAM works, and sets off the first 2 dudes for a total of 1,500 LBS of explosives.
What does the news paper report:
USAF DROPS 3 Smart bombs on insurgent strong hold and destroys it. (no mention of 2 dud very expensive bombs.) But, that's what the news media was told because they were hundreds of miles away in the friggen safe Green Zone...sipping cold beer.

Bag Blog said...

And there is the agenda of the media. Depending on who a reporter writes for, will depend on what gets published and sometimes the spin he/she puts on the report.

"D" AKA CI-Roller Dude said...

Grumpy,
After having been a cop for so long and talked to reporters in person, on the phone and having sent them Press Releases as part of my job...I really think that some of them are just stupid and don't know sh--. In so many cases I've had to explain things like I'm explaining them to a 5 year old and they still don't get it.

If they're spoon fed crap while sitting in the Green Zone,they're just going to report what they're told and then put their stupidness into it and get all the facts mixed up because they don't know anything anyway.