Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mediocre Media 5

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Hello and welcome to Mediocre Media, the blogging carnival that criticizes the media for its bias, errors, and its general mediocrity. We're at our fifth edition! You can always participate in this carnival, or in our Moderate Circus. I initially ordered the posts according to submission dates, then edited the order to list editor's picks first. Nonetheless, each of the submissions below is well-written analysis that deserves to be read.

Muse at Shiloh Musings presents Upside Down and Dangerous. Our persistent participant (I love the efforts Muse, keep 'em coming!) discusses ethics and morality in her post on the ever-mediocre NYT' vocabulary, and specifically, their vocabulary in relation to terrorists (excuse me, "militants").

Editor's pick.
Muse at shiloh musings presents Protest to the Media. Can you believe this woman's dedication to media criticism? She criticizes CNN's disgusting treatment of a murder victim.
Editor's pick!

Moving on, we get into things a little sexier. Or not. Different River at Different River presents Would You Donate Your Virginity to Science? It's moronic studies like this that give strength to Christian fundamentalists in decrying the excesses of science. Some idiot PhDs conducted a study to see if condoms help prevent STDs. Bravo, Einsteins.

Editor's pick.
Repeat Mediocre Media participant Jon Swift at Jon Swift presents Guantanamo: Kafkaesque, in a Good Way. Jon discusses how prison guards there have been saving inmates' lives. As anyone following the story in the mainstream media knows, this has gone by unnoticed.

New participant Mad Kane (welcome!) gives us a limerick describing Ann Coulter's relationship with the media: Madeleine Begun Kane at Mad Kane's Notables presents Ann's Master Plan. "Mad" Kane's a humourist, and her limerick points out the media's dumb, reverse-sexist attitude. Reminds me of something my psych prof told me about how a study found we were more likely to attribute positive traits such as intelligence to good looking people, which is how I understand most Americans perceive Coulter (I think she's ugly, myself).

Another welcome newcomer is Shamalama, at Common Folk Using Common Sense, who presents Such Bad People: Islamist Terrorists or US Soldiers? He's criticizing a leftwingnut "progressive" for equating US soldiers with Islamist terrorists. Way to point out the stupidity, Sham! Oh, and you should submit the post to the carnivals exposing stupid things from the left (the names escape me right now), to get it more exposure.

In a highlight for this edition, recent participant in the Mediocre Media carnival festivities Ashok Karra gives us the following lovely rant/criticism of the media by email. He goes into a historical perspective on the media, and considers the causes for its degeneration into its pathetic modern state:
Generally, the quick answer is that the media isn't that
bright. Steinbeck and Hemingway used to be journalists; that generation is
gone now. The brightest writers on the conservative side are Mark Steyn and
Jonah Goldberg, the brightest on the liberal side Dana Stevens and, god I
wish he would write more, Pico Iyer. Pajiba and The Onion have some sharp
people working for them too, but notice how they [tend] more [towards being classified as a] parody [outlet, rather] than [an outlet of the] mainstream

The trick to a field not being bright is that there's a culture of
stupidity. If a reporter were confronted with my work on Emily Dickinson or
my essay on La Boheme, his first instinct, if he's good, is [sic] to check the
sources. So he'd go to a college professor, who of course would say my stuff
is crap, because I didn't cite relevant sources. Never mind that I'm making
sense of cryptic poetry or that I have something to say. "Objectivity" means
"rule by expert," and wouldn't you know, most people that are "experts" are

Further, the schooling is bad. If you want to be a reporter nowadays, you
take communications classes. Now I am right-wing, but I did encourage my
brother to do comm[unications]. I encouraged him to do this because he brought up, at a younger age, deep questions about whether media companies like ABC have any
rationality in terms of being able to make sense of market data. His
questions came from the observation, while watching TV, "Who watches this
crap," [sic] and we pushed the question in terms of speculation and research into
something rather interesting. Point is, you can study interesting issues in
comm[unications] theory, or keep track of interesting trends. But my brother and I came up with that issue on our own. Why do most people take communications in

Reporters are passive for the most part - the advocacy group that gets their
propaganda in their hands first will most likely make the best impression on
them - and aggressive when it comes to the things they think they know (i.e.
John Stossel's libertarian sensationalism).[emphasis mine]
Passive-aggressive behavior is not rational. It is the life lived by passion. Searching for truth is not
something you do by being nosy only. It's something you do full time, in all
aspects of life, and by separating "journalist" from "intellectual" (see
Hemingway, Steinbeck comment above) and attaching to [the role of journalist, the role of] "activist" or "career," [I'm not sure what's meant by career]
well, that's the end right there, and the cause of all mediocrity.

You gotta love it! Ashok didn't want it featured in the carnival because of grammar mistakes, but the raw emotion and analysis made me slip this in despite his objections. The point about activist journalists resonated strongly with me.
Ashok's definitely a rising star in the moderate center and realm of media criticism.

Another repeat participant to Mediocre Media is Don Surber, who presents Can Keller spell war? What I really enjoyed about Don's piece was that he brought up something I've had a problem with for a long time: the media' revelations on defence secrets. "Hey, you a******s! We're fighting the terrorists here to protect the nation. How about not telling them exactly how we're going to break them? Morons..." Excuse my language. When the media blatantly commits treason like this, it really gets me angry.

All in all, this fifth edition of Mediocre Media has been a great carnival. I honestly wanted to label editor's pick on each of the submissions, but felt it might devalue it. The truth is that the standard of submissions here is absolutely excellent, and no matter which articles/posts you choose to read, you'll be rewarded with rich, intelligent analysis and criticism of the mediocre (usually mainstream) media. Thanks again to all the participants, namely Don Surber, Batya Medad/Muse, Ashok Karra, Madeleine Kane, Different River, Wenshypoo, Shamalama, and of course, Jon Swift. Keep those submissions coming folks!

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