Lousy Reporting or a Lousy Paper?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Here in central Massachusetts, one of our local papers is the Telegram & Gazette, a paper owned by the New York Times (did you know that RedSox fans, our paper is Yankee run). I would like to take a second and point out some of the issues I have with this paper.

For an example of what I am talking about, I would refer you to yesterdays issue, Thursday, August 18, 2005. The subtle Jedi mind-tricks start on page A4 with an article about Jean Charles De Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead by British police. The first paragraph outlines the recent leaked report regarding the investigation of the shooting. It is with the second paragraph that I have issue. So here it is:

"Also yesterday, an Italian court approved the extradition to Britain of suspected London bomber Hamdi Issac but said he must remain in Italy for another 35 days so Italian authorities can finish their investigation. Issac's lawyer said she would appeal the ruling."

Here is the problem I have with this paragraph. It doesn't belong. The paragraph is there on purpose, and I believe the purpose is to lead the reader into a state of fear, to believe that Mr. De Menezes had something to do with the London bombings. Why put it there otherwise? The whole story, which is 8 paragraphs long, has to do with the investigation of his death, not the subway bombings. The bombings were used as an excuse to murder this man in public and now it is being used as an excuse once again. If I am writing about apple pie, why throw in a paragraph about jogging? Again, this is not an accident. It is a deliberate attempt to sway your thought process. Its persuasion disguised as reporting.

Yet another example of this ever-so-subtle suggestioning would be on page A12, in an article titled: Cheap gas in Iraq seen as threat to economy. Well, maybe this one isn't so subtle, as you can figure out for yourself from the story title. Other than the obvious hate-driven title of this article, I would like to direct you to the first paragraph:

"Motorists stuggling with high gas prices in the United States and Europe may be surprised to learn that consumers in Iraq pay as little as 6 cents a gallon, according to the International Monetary Fund's first assessment of the Iraqi economy in 25 years."

Why don't they mention that in Iraq, in order to fill up your canister with this super-cheap gas, you need to stand in line for 24-48 hours under constant threat of suicide bomber or military fire? Why doesn't the Telegram & Gazette mention anywhere in this article that the gas mentioned is the property of Iraq? Of course it's cheap there! It comes from there! What this article is trying to do is sway your thought once again. This time blaming Iraqis for our high gas prices and not the government. Hate the Iraqis; they have cheap gas. How dare they!

I will say this. I am not sure the T&G has any staff reporters. The articles I mentioned were written by members of the Associated Press, and maybe the blame lies there. Then again it is the T&G that chooses to publish these skewed articles under their name. Of course they also publish the weekly Thomas L. Friedman article, but this blog isn't large enough for me to start in on what is wrong with his writing.


Good piece on the problems with local reporting. While our local paper, the Times-Argus is generally pretty good editorially, they also have times when they report events as if they are asleep, or they simply parrot stories run elsewhere.

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