Sunday, September 20, 2009


[from Joel] I'm fascinated by the recent events concerning ACORN. A courageous young couple used the hidden camera style originally developed by shows like 60 Minutes to catch ACORN employees in illegal and immoral behavior. Demands for investigation of ACORN have fallen on deaf ears for years. The appearance of damning videos everywhere on the web (as well as on Fox News) finally forced action by the Congress despite the neglect by the mainstream media. The web seems to be fast becoming the mainstream, while the old news media have placed themselves in the fringe by overly filtering the news.

I attended a teaparty near Detroit a few days before the main demonstratio on September 12. The local media underestimated the turnout by a factor of ten. The coverage by the media was negligible considering over a million people showed up. As you can see from the photo, the protestors were mature and the signs weree grassroot sloppy. -Joel


JohnS said...

I don’t know whether the web will replace the mainstream media, however it does seem that, the mainstream media is failing in its mission of providing the news. It fails in the quality, validity and importance of the news it chooses to print and fails in its judgment of news chosen not to print; news we would never hear about if it weren’t for the bloggers and others on the on the web. Glen Becks has picked up your thought. He now calls the mainstream media the fringe media.

I think the Acorn situation also shows that our Congress has very selective hearing unless cornered.

Howard Pattee said...

Filtering information is inevitable. We all do it using our own criteria of what is important. Joel says he is fascinated by events concerning ACORN. That passes Joel’s filter. War, the economy and health pass other people’s filter.

If you look at just under “headlines” you will find all kinds of filtered news. Check “Abyz links” and you will be swamped. If you Google “latest headlines” from blogs you get about 30 million filtered responses.

The main problem with the media is that the only significant filter is ratings.

Ira Glickstein said...

I agree with Howard that there has to be some filtering by all news organizations because there is just too much happening at the local, state, national, and international levels to cover it all.

And, of course, the filtering is biased by the personal political and social views of those who choose what to cover. I think, by and large, most who choose to go into journalism are a self-selected set of the college-age population who are interested in people and politics and "soft" stuff like that. Those who go into engineering and accounting are less sympatico with people and more into math and science and "hard" stuff like that.

Then, with nearly all newsrooms and TV news departments run by similar type people, those who are hired and promoted tend to be "soft" oriented. Any "hard' person who gets through journalism school and happens to get hired in the news world will find him- or herself jobless or diverted into the technical or business end, rather than the news, per se. Thus, the bias is not some conspiracy, but a normal "assortive mating" of like-minded people.

With respect to the Acorn TV sting, I understand why it was not immediately picked up by most news organizations. FIrst of all, the sting was pulled off by non-professionals, not associated with any news organization. Although the videos speak for themselves, no one can be sure how many Acorn offices were visited to get the five damning tapes, or what was edited out of the ones we saw. If they visited ten and got five to offer to help them in clearly illegal and immoral activities, including smuggling underage Honduran girls for prostitution, that is pretty damning for Acorn. On the other hand, if they visited 100 and only got five to bite, that is less damning of Acorn as an organization.

Also, due to political bias and the association of Acorn and Acorn-like community organizers with the President, most liberal newspeople would shy away from the story. Of course, that is the very reason the story appealed to Foxnews!

Howard ends as follows: "The main problem with the media is that the only significant filter is ratings." I agree all news organizations seek higher ratings. However, if ratings were the top consideration on stories like Acorn, they would all have jumped at it as Foxnews did. The proof is that Foxnews is the one cable network that has programs that beat the ratings of some of the main broadcast network news programs. If it was all about ratings, all TV news would be more like Foxnews.

Ira Glickstein

JohnS said...

I guess I agree with everyone including myself but that doesn’t resolve what I see as the problem.
I watch a couple of hours of Fox in the evening. I asked the same question about the Acorn tapes. How many Acorn centers were visited without finding problems? Glen Beck, in particular, has devoted many program hours to Acorn’s failures and their associations with Soros, Obama, Apollo and SIEU (I am not sure of those initials or the spelling of Soros.) Does Acorn justify the coverage or is the coverage for ratings? O’Reilly and Beck are what I term ranters although I find their programs interesting. Still I am ranting, back to the problem. How does one today obtain reasonably unbiased news of interest? I am interested in national and international news as is pertinent to America. Where do I look? What can I depend upon? As an aside, for years I considered Time magazine a liberal publication. I’ve changed my mind. I find it closer to the middle than any other weekly news publication.

Howard Pattee said...

I find the major US network news almost useless just because it is superficial. It is driven by the "news cycle," ratings, and "political correctness" of one extreme or the other.

I find the BBC, NPR, and Al Jazeera have better links to more global perspectives, commentators, and opinions, although their lead stories are often the same as US networks.