Monday, January 15, 2007

Too Much Information

First, my apologies for a week-long absence. Internet Explorer, my default browser, somehow stopped being compatible with Blogger and I was unable to log on all of last week. With work being a bit hectic as well, I didn't have much time to troubleshoot either. Thanks to Alejandra, though, all is normal now and I am gracing the blogosphere yet again thanks to Mozilla.

But enough about me (and the fact that two weeks into my resolution to post daily I failed miserably) and on to the news, or rather, the excess thereof...

I process the news in the context of fear. I don't expect to read about chirping birds in Central Park or pillow fights between members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the front page of CNN or the New York Times. Instead, I have come to expect death tolls and an update on how far Beyonce has come in her 25 years on this earth versus me. And I'm OK with that.

However, journalists seem to operate under a different construct. They neither compare themselves to Beyonce and they fear nothing.

Otherwise they wouldn't go around pouring itching powder into the conflicts that plague our little planet. And neither would the victims of these conflicts, as these people seem especially inclined to just shoot their mouths off at any microphone shoved in their faces.

In reading the news today, I was shocked and annoyed that the Times of London would publish an article listing the ingredients used in the terrorist attacks of 2005. Now, I know the media has done stupid stuff like that in the past, but in the midst of a war that is showing no signs of relenting, is it wise to inform the public, and the wackos in their midst, on how to assemble mini weapons of mass destruction? In an article titled "How high street ingredients 'could become weapons for mass murder'" reporter Sean O'Neill writes:

The ingredients of the July 21 bombs were acquired in the high street and required little more than a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry to make up. The shopping list of the alleged bombers included hydrogen peroxide — widely used in hairdressing — chapati flour, nail polish remover (acetone), sulphuric acid, batteries, torch bulbs, electrical wires, cardboard and half a dozen food storage tubs, Woolwich Crown Court was told yesterday.

Am I overreacting or is this too much information? Who cares what the ingredients used were? The problem isn't how available they are it's how many people know that a combination of certain household items can cause some major damage?

Reports from the war-zone are no better. No sooner are we processing the less than humane execution of Saddam Hussein (I'm against the death penalty but what else could you do with a monster like that? My issue is with the treatment of a man already sentenced to death by his executioners...verbal taunting, slapping...) and we're getting reports that his older brother's head snapped off during the execution.

Wha?? How is the world better off for knowing this bit of information?

Things are no better in Colombia, where the kidnapping of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt still goes unsolved. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Colombia's interior minister said Monday that kidnapped former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was in good health, reopening a national debate over freeing thousands being held captive by mostly leftist rebels. [...]

Betancourt's mother, however, said she feared the government was planning a military rescue of her daughter - a move that in the past has led leftist rebels to immediately kill hostages.

"What terrifies me is that the government may know where Ingrid is and will launch a rescue mission," Yolanda Pulecio said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Umm, why is this woman's mother trying to sabotage any attempt by the government to rescue her daughter? Shouldn't her misgivings be addressed in private with the president of her country and the people who will execute any rescue operation? What the hell is the AP going to do about saving her daughter?

And finally, just when I was rejoicing over the much-deserved victory of one Miss Jennifer Hudson at the Golden Globes, I caught a commercial for the Today Show announcing an interview with the parents of one of the two kidnapped boys found in Missouri yesterday.

If recounting the horror of such an ordeal with friends and family won't be of help to me, and I feel like reaching out to a disinterested media personality, I'd try to call Beyonce and tell her all about how my son was kidnapped and holed up with some dude for five days. She won't care any more than Meredith Viera, but hey, she's Beyonce. But then, who would cover the story? BET? I'm not black...

So what am I getting at here?

The news is full of too much fluff and fear mongering and there are way too many people who think national television is an appropriate vehicle through which families can process trauma. Editors are becoming increasingly unethical and scandalous in what they peddle as news -- telling people how to create bombs is the equivalent of screaming fire (or, if you were Beyonce, Ring the Alarm) in a crowded movie theatre.


James Henry Bailey said...

HUH? Does this rant make any sense to anyone else?

GCL said...

Ack..I thought I was making a point that today's media is behind a phenomenon I call death-by-full-disclosure. Sometimes shutting up is one's best defense.

ThatGayConservative said...

is it wise to inform the public, and the wackos in their midst, on how to assemble mini weapons of mass destruction?

The thing to remember, GCL, is that they already know how to do this. Therefore, it's not news to them. The only way it would be is that if their "ingredients" worked and we all know that the MSM would be more than happy to give that information to them.

Late in WWII, Japan launched bomb laden balloons toward the U.S. Many of them made it here. The POTUS asked all media NOT to report that any of them had made it here. The media, which evidently had a sense of patriotism COMPLIED with the president's request.
Nowadays the liberal MSM gives the president the finger and publishes whatever they hell they want. They'll even publish stories which are patently BULLSHIT, undermine the U.S. in the process, and give each other Pulitzers for doing so.

THAT is your liberal media at work. They're your bitches. Enjoy.

Gene said...

It's a bit discouraging to note the constant hits on the "MSM."

The Times of London is owned by Rupert Murdoch. He is a large contributor to Republican causes, and he also makes some contributions to Democratic causes. First and foremost, though, Murdoch is a supporter of Republicans who have helped him amass his media empire.

The Gannett company, which owns many newspapers yearly gives prizes to its local publishers and editors, and among the first criteria for the awards mentioned is finances. Our local Gannett paper consistently backs the local Republican candidates and causes.

The Tribune company, which owns the Los Angeles Times, is conservative, and the LA Times is tilting rightward.

The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, is owned by the Dallas based Belo Corp. Have you heard of many Democratic ideas coming out of Dallas lately?

The San Diego Union is a virtual institution of conservative, Republican ideology.

The MSM is generally owned by Republicans or those who lean to Republican thinking.

At least in Southern California, MSM is owned lock, stock, and barrell by Republicans or Republican leaning entities.

When a blogger attacks the MSM, they're being manipulated, successfully, by the owners of the MSM, who keeping a low profile, manage to have their cake and eat ours.

James Henry Bailey said...

RE "Death by full disclosure"

I guess that's the trade-off for having so many 24-hour news channels. Personally, I think we need them during times like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and they definitely earn their keep, and mostly my respect, during those disastrous times (Anderson Cooper can do as many stories about "germs in your office" as he wants- his voice during Katrina was badly needed! and his work was superior).

However, during the down times, they need to fill a LOT of time and they need to attract those ad dollars. And people will tune in to see other people's "tragedies".

Since I largely ignore the big cable news stations (with the exception of my local NECN) I say the trade-off is worth it. When they are good, they are good. When not, it's just candy everybody wants.

James said...

What's most distressing to me is the example of the parents of the kidnappers on the Today show. This is an example of the destruction of community in its original sense. The media vehicles, especially television and the Internet, have become places for people to process emotions and look for counseling and direction. Instead of healing, this electronic community is creating a society of people who have lost the ability to interact with one another and lend a helping hand. How very sad.

ThatGayConservative said...

It's a bit discouraging to note the constant hits on the "MSM."

Well that's nifty that you know who owns whom. However, you made no mention about the writers and editors. There's no hiding their liberal leanings especially when they tell us, frequently, who they are.

Further, to suggest that the LA Times is leaning right has to be the most preposterous notion I've read in a long time. Unless you consider that they don't always take the same tack as the liberal kook blogosphere, then yeah. You could probably say that. Also, Gannett runs USA Today which is also far from the right.

Gene said...


Review the LA Times' columnists. The Bob Scheer is gone; Jonah Goldberg and Max Boot have been hired. That's a tilt.

If the current fight for LAT ownership ends as the speculation suggests, the LAT will continue a touch to the left of center, but the Chandlers will own two or three other major dailies and the John Birch Society wing of the family will control those papers.

If USAToday is leftist, you can believe that Gannett thinks it's profitable for it to be leftist. That's capitalism, not MSM skullduggery.