Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Unfair And Unbalanced

Interesting column on TomDispatch, Michael Massing on Iraq coverage and the election. It touches on media bias, and how it cuts both ways. There's an interesting part at the beginning, which discusses a personal e-mail sent by Wall St. Journal correspondent Farnaz Fassihi to her friends:
the Iraqi government doesn’t control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country’s roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health — which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers — has now stopped disclosing them. Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
The original Massing article goes on to say,
Other US correspondents in Baghdad were startled at the attention her e-mail received. "All of us felt that we'd been writing that story," one journalist told me. "Everyone was marveling and asking what were we doing wrong if that information came as a surprise to the American public."
This is fascinating to me. On one hand, I'd rather hear and read "the news" in the style of that e-mail. It's certainly more human than news usually is, and it seems to me to contain more Truth. On the other hand, it's obviously not objective, or even journalism at all, for that matter. It doesn't research its assertions, provide balanced opinions or pretend to be unbiassed.

And I'm not just drawn to this account because of its clear anti-war (or at least anti-this-war) slant. A similar first-person account by someone about how well Iraq reconstruction is going, or how much better things are without Saddam, would be equally compelling.

I guess that's what draws me to weblogs, (not dopey ones that just link to other sites all the time, but real ones) - the unedited, uncensored and yes, unbalanced voices that you find there sometimes.


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