Sunday, June 11, 2006

And lest you think all journalists are out to simply smear the military

Here's an unsolicited link received from a Washington Post reporter. It is to an opinion piece titled "Morals in A Combat Zone" by a major in the U.S. Army appearing in today's Washington Post. The Washington Post takes much criticism for liberal bias in reporting on the Global War on Terror. It is also one of the best sources for stories that give an accurate picture of military life in a war zone.

In the past two years, I've written back and forth with many reporters and columnists. I will never forget holding my breath as I linked to a headline on Drudge that announced an American reporter was killed in Basra[h]. Or watching a reporter who had become an online friend having to appear on TV to fight back the skepticism that arose after reporter Jill Carroll was released in Iraq. Or not being able to control my tears at church while thinking of an Iraqi journalist and singing an African spiritual song "O Healing River" with the following lyrics:

O healing river,
send down your waters,
And wash the blood
from off the sand.

The reporters have a tough job. They possess the same human frailties as we all do...and as the troops do.

Now, can't we all just get along?


crosspatch said...

I thank you and your contributors for all the time and effort you have been spending on this. I wrote a posting in my blog that you linked to and this blog is an example of exactly why I didn't want to name names.

The blogosphere is a big place and I was unaware of SpiritBuilders and I am sure that I am unaware of many others too. I am still amazed at how many have pitched in to get an accurate portrayal of the events in Hadita out to the people.

What has bothered me most about all of this is that from my perspective the entire media storm surrounding this is born out of some need by certain people to find a parallel between Iraq and Viet Nam. They needed a My Lai and when they thought they "smelled" one, they were spring-loaded to jump to that conclusion.

Iraq is not Viet Nam for many reasons. The biggest reason is that in Viet Nam we were propping up an unpopular and corrupt government. In Iraq we tore one down and gave the country back to the people so they can decide their own destiny.

It isn't only the reporters that are the problem either. Much of it has to do with editors. The editors choose what goes on page one, what gets buried deep in the paper, and what never gets published. Journalists are like everyone else, they want to succeed in their career. It doesn't take them long to figure out what is going to get them noticed and what is going to get them buried in the deep corners of the paper or never published at all.

The overall problem is that our commercial media has become corrupt. No longer being a reflection of the community, they would wish to further a socio-political agenda and influence that community. In a recent issue of Editor and Publisher, editors were admonished for a lack of zeal in indoctrinating the public in the "proper" path to civil rights.

That attitude was fine when the newspaper was the only information in town but these days alternative sources of information are only keystrokes away. If a media outlet alienates a large segment of their potential readership, they find themselves abandoned as that readership turns to alternative sources. A paper that presents honest information with thoughtful analysis that doesn't always attempt to whittle every peg to fit their agenda is useful to everyone. A paper that is more interested in furthering a particular agenda will find itself preaching to the choir as the congregation bolts for the door.

The blogosphere now allows us, the congregation of the media, to discuss our opinions and share thoughts. Suddenly one finds that they are not alone in their perception that the industry has been hijacked by a cynical doctrine that many of us find just plain wrong.

It's places like this that are going to bring the media back to its senses and show it that it needs to be a reflection of the wide spectrum of political thought in the community and not a cadre of those that would send us all to a "re-education camp". They can't create a reality by simply saying it is so. If they try, they will eventually be left talking to themselves as the rest of us drift away.

Thank you, Josh White for writing a story in the Washington Post and not trying to "spin" it. He let the story be told the way that Marine saw it. And thanks to the editor that decided it should go in the paper. Maybe they will start to come to their senses.

Papa Ray said...

Joseph Heller, Catch 22
"Let someone else get killed!" "Suppose everyone on our side felt that way?" "Well then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?" "Englishmen are dying for England, American's are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can all be worth dying for?" "Anything worth living for," said Nately, "is worth dying for." "And anything worth dying for," answered the old man, "is certainly worth living for."

The flag, the Nation, the Patriotism, for the young warrior is important, but upon the battlefield the fight is for the survival of his friends to his left and to his right and for his own survival. War does not make men murderers but it does not make them saints nor policemen either.

Papa Ray

Goesh said...

you got that right papa Ray. It always boils down to being able to go home when the tour of duty is done. All notions of patiotism and the flag and mom and pop and apple pie back home go away in the first fire fight.