Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Credibility, Honesty,Reliability and Authenticity

I wish I could write a convincing and objective essay on this topic, but if I were to attempt doing so it would consist mostly of wishful thinking on my part, and, consequently, clearly my subjective view of an objective problem.

I make no claim for being an exhaustive, knowledgable nor thorough source for anything Internet or Main Stream Media related, but I have come to think that there are Internet sources which often provide stuff which is not likely to be found in the Main Stream Media, and stuff which is not so easily labelled compliant with the wishes of the administration, and the current occupant, as Garrison Keillor calls him.

The Main Stream Media, MSM, relies for it's survival on selling enough papers and/or getting enough hits on its web site ads, to make a profit, or at least to achieve a positive cash flow. It must rely on connections to so-called reliable, but all too frequently, anonymous sources, for providing grist for its News Mill.

Those publications, which are generally considered to be of the MSM, are not often whistle blowers, unless they think that they can scoop their competition on a hot topic. They assume, and understand, perhaps accurately, that the main stream market is mostly composed of an audience of people who are pretty much engaged in their immediate needs, taking care of business, day to day, but can be grabbed in the short term by "Extra, extra, read all about it", the shout of the newsboy on the streets of long ago, like the old lamp lighter of long, long ago who made the night a little brighter.

I wish to make a case for the value of media sources other than the so-called MSM because I do not believe that the MSM is sufficiently objective nor thorough in what it offers to the American consumer of news.

The MSM has been the recognized source of news for years because of its ability to get people to pay for what it offered, the news of the day and editorial comments on that news. Its continued existence is dependent on the ongoing opinion of its consumers, its readers, that it is still a reliable and objective source of news.

There is no such thing as total objectivity. The very fact that someone makes an observation, however much that someone wants to be objective, the observation is a product of the observer who, however well intended, cannot be totally objective. The very fact that an observer makes a choice about a topic of observation is in itself proof of subjectivity of the observer. What was the observer's motive in choosing the topic, while dismissing all other possible topics? Clearly the choice is, by definition, a personal one, made by the subject of the observation, revealing and exposing the importance of the topic to the observer, who chose the subject.

I wouldn't be surprised if I lost you here. If so I apologize for my need to be as objective as possible about the subjective:-) Those of you who think in logic tight compartments as I often do might have enjoyed the maze.

The MSM has become adept at the subtlety of expressing opinion while ostensibly reporting facts. It's all in what facts they choose to report and where in their publications they choose to report them. Stuff can be brought to life on the front page and above the fold, buried well back in other sections, or printed anywhere in between.

Internet sources of news might not be more objective than the MSM, but perhaps they are more honest about their subjectivity, their opinion, point of view; and perhaps they are more willing than the MSM to keep digging into the story, which often is later revealed to be innacurate, if not bogus, when the MSM is looking for the next "Extra, Extra, Read All About It".

The New York Times has, for the most part, been considered to have a liberal bias, as has the Washington Post. Yet in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the Times' Judith Miller beat the war drums for the administration, and now and then the Post seems to an apologist for the Bush administration.

Some might see these offerings as examples of fairness and objectivity. I do not. I see these offerings, not as fairness, nor even anomalies, but examples of compliance with the wishes of the current powers that be, "the current occupants" of power, as Garrison Keillor calls them, in order to preserve their access to reliable and anonymous sources, which they are convinced and believe they need to provide the Extra, Extra, Read All About It sensational and therefore, irrestible story which sells newspapers.

Reading Alternet, Truthout, Truthdig, The Huffington Post, one can clearly see that they are not supporters of the Far Right. Reading The Weekly Standard and The Drudge Report, in contrast, makes one aware that they are not supporters of the Far Left.

Here's my pitch for the Internet news sources as a worthy and valuable addition to, not a substitution for, the MSM sources of news.

Long after the major newspapers, the MSM, drop their coverage of events, and/or bury them in the back pages, the Internet News Media is likely to follow the story with some digging, which might turn the original, "Extra, Extra, Read All About It" story on its ear. Case in point: The Strait of Hormuz event of a week or so ago.

Here is a classic example of what I'm writing about. The MSM hyped this as a confrontation between Iran and the US. Why? Because it is an Extra, Extra, Read All About It kind of story. The Bush/Cheney administration loved it because it just so happened to coincide with Bush's first day in his junket to the Middle East, where it was made clear that he wanted to awaken our so-called allies to what he claims is the threat posed by Iran.

How convenient.

Is there anyone out there who still believes, however laudibly wishful, that what the adminstraton puts out is honest and reliable?

Some of us who have lived through many traumas and are simply tired, if not exhausted, honestly and understandably hope and wish that we could trust those in positions of power, who tell us all is well, tell us to go shopping, and not be troubled by reports of attrocities in far off lands, because they are happening in far off lands.

In doing so they appeal to the basest instincts of our species.

Lighthouse Keeper

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