Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fact vs. opinion: Who wins online?

Demonstrations are interesting.

Its 7:55 pm in Geneva and I am watching CNN and BBC. The commentators are discussing the demonstrations in Paris. I am not a supporter of violent demonstrations but a couple of ideas come to mind.

History shows that they work.

Its the fifth day of riots and the commentators, especially Jim ... are saying how terrible these demonstrations are. But here's a question: What would happen if we we didn't speak our minds, gather in protest? Would the politicians here and react to our wishes? I mean - day 5 - where is Chirac?

Cataloging the thundering ineffectiveness of government expenditures in fighting poverty is trite, yet the salience of government failure is perhaps greater now than ever before. Witness the impotence of France where, in the space of a year, one Paris-burning riot protesting widespread socialist unemployment was followed by the current Paris-burning riot against any reform of that same system.

Close up on a demonstrator reading and writing a text message. People on both sides of the tear gas using video cameras to record the action.

Now, Sarkozy is mounting a counteroffensive among French bloggers, who he thinks are mainly 25-years-and-under. In the same paragraph, Sarkozy told Business Week that he is all for 'debate and exchange.'

Then he says in a CNN interview that business leaders fear France's image will be damaged if protests continue and that investment and tourism could suffer, particularly because the crisis has erupted so soon after rioting by youths in French city suburbs late last year.

Making a difference? Or making a buck. Demonstrations work.

Meanwhile, Fox News displayed a strange form of journalism during its 'Dayside' coverage of the French protests. Fox News found the protests on the streets of Paris and elsewhere in France so compelling that it junked most of the planned segments and shows video of the people in the street being shot with water cannons by Paris riot police. The video was supposed to be so enticing that Fox played in a split screen even during a briefing from the Pentagon by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Co-hosts Juliet Huddy and Mike Jerrick remarked about the protests turning violent, but mostly mentioned people throwing rocks, bottles, eggs, and balloons filled with paint. During about 45 minutes of video, one demonstrator hurled something, but mostly the scene was one of several thousand people milling around and occasionally shouting something at the police, or cowering under streams of water from the double-decker trucks moving through the crowd.

The co-hosts spoke with Fox News correspondent Greg Burke, who was supposed to be covering the protest in Paris. Most of his comments focused on actions of the police, noting he saw some police almost totally covered with paint and some protesters being dragged on the ground, but said they probably deserved it if they were resisting arrest.

Had Fox News relied on journalism of the old fashioned variety, viewers might have gotten some real information, as readers of the New Zealand Herald did. In its story on protests in Paris, the reporter talked to average Parisians, one a young person and the other an older one.

Or read the Al Jezeera report.

Fact vs. opinion: Who wins online?

In his online column last Friday, Slate founder Michael Kinsley questioned whether readers will continue to buy articles written by professional journalists from a detached and purportedly objective point of view.

"Will anyone sit through a half-hour newscast invented back when everyone had to watch the same thing at the same time?" he asked. "Or are blogs and podcasts the cutting edge of a new model for both print and video: more personalized, more interactive, more opinionated, more communal, less objective?"

To that, media executives say that if news organizations hope to be trusted, they have to retain clear lines between factual reporting and opinion — even if point-of-view websites and blogs are increasingly popular.

Wanna know how to get the most out of covering a riot in Paris? Stand on a balcony and write.

Meanwhile, John Green, weekend producer of ABC's Good Morning America, has been suspended for a month after an e-mail he wrote to a colleague in which he criticized President Bush and former secretary of State Madeleine Albright appeared last week on The Drudge Report and The New York Post.

Meanwhile, between 500,000 and 1 million people filled the streets of downtown Los Angeles on March 25th, 2006 to protest the anti-immigrant bill HR4437, which would make all 12 million undocumented people in the United States into felons as well as anyone who aids undocumented people in anyway.

This march came in the wave of many other large demonstrations - didn't see much comentary on the internet about these 'riots' ... meanwhile the Paris students are already planning for later this week ... the future of the media is becoming an open competition.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so pleased to see an objective article regarding the so-called riots in France and the media coverage. Five days of riots? Where did that come from?

I have been sitting here in France seething at the quality of reporting coming out of places like the BBC, Sky News and CNN for the last few months. It is like they have all been brainwashed in some sort of capitalist/market forces training camp! (I am joking). There is precious little objectivity at all that I can see. Every comment, every question is loaded. Usually from a Anglo/American economic point of view. It makes me question anything that is reported as 'News' these days and I feel 'bulldozed'.

I must admit that as much as I enjoy opinion in blogs, I really do not want it in 'news' reports from TV channels. Just give me the facts to the best of your knowledge, people!

Oh, then there is the rolling news channel and their "How can we break down the Iraqi/Iran/France/anywhere conflict into an easy to digest 2 minute comprehensive report. But that is a whole other story, hey?

Sorry for ramble on your blog!

11:48 PM, April 04, 2006  
Blogger J David Galipeau said...

Agreed ... there seems to be a lot of 'missing the point' going on.

While they're standing in the welfare lines. Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation. Wasting time in unemployment lines. Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don't you know you're talking about a revolution - It sounds like a whisper

12:08 AM, April 05, 2006  

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