When a dog attacks a person that’s not news, but only when a person attacks a dog that’s news. (Charles Anderson, American reporter, 1819-Present) News is what someone somewhere wants to conceal; all of the rest is promotion.
It’s amazing how easily humans can fall into the rut of promoting bad news and bury good news in the same crate. For example, let’s look at the recent BP oil spill. How many people do you know who have lost friends and family because of this? Not many, so it isn’t newsworthy. But it’s terrible for the environment, and it is indeed newsworthy because it reflects on global warming and the crisis of our time.
Yet, another recent event that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the BP oil spill is the Kunduz attack in Afghanistan. The fact is that this was a war crime and a violation of the Geneva Convention. It also showed the utter futility of US policy in that area and illustrates much about how our government does not really want to win the war, and obviously doesn’t care for the people of Afghanistan or the people there. Still, many in the media are trying to make this news about Obama’s “red line” for escalation in Afghanistan. But who cares about that?
News is what people are willing to pay for, and that’s what’s news. But when the stuff they’re paying for is the bad news, well, that’s just unfortunate. I’ve often thought that perhaps it’s rather difficult to find a good piece of news in today’s media, because of all of the spin and puffery that permeate. Sometimes you almost feel like you can recognize a lie the moment you hear it, but then it turns out that the whole story isn’t even true, just that someone decided to embellish it in some way.
One of the most telling things I’ve read recently was an article in the Canadian press that compared the Iraq war to the 1994 War in Rwanda. In both cases, the victims were targeted specifically because they were Christians, and both groups had ethnic cleansing operations going on at the time. Now then, it’s not entirely clear why a Canadian news agency would compare the two, except perhaps they hoped that they were making a similar point to the American public about how bad things seem to be now in Iraq, but it still comes across as quite troubling that anyone who reads that would conclude anything other than that.
Still, sometimes you have to look beyond the news to find the truth. Sometimes you have to look deeper, dig deeper, to find the truth, and sometimes you have to go looking in the wrong places. In this case, maybe you shouldn’t be looking at the newspapers. Maybe you should be looking at your own government. Please consider all this.