After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Have the media learnt anything?

Ever since I blogged the Reuters event Iraq: Is the Media Telling The True Story?, an uncomfortable feeling of "I heard this before somewhere" was bugging me but I could not put my finger on it. Then I took part in the BBC World Service World Have Your Say program and listened to a BBC editor sanctimoniously telling the world that the BBC is committed to unbiased reporting and has many reporters on the ground and no one can do better than that... and then the same feeling came back again (BTW - his argument fell flat rather quickly after I quoted a piece of news from bloggers that their massive team of reporters completely overlooked).

Where had I heard it before?

Just today it hit me. In a past life I used to attend the Apple Computer developer conference and would go, in the 'feedback' section of some presentations, to the microphone to ask the array of assembled executives and/or engineers uncomfortable questions. At that time they were driving their company into the ground and I was trying to tell them that. The replies I had got were a mixture of avoidance, sanctimonious talking down, ignoring, and other general non-answers.

They were the highly paid managers.
They had already discussed the issues with other highly paid managers.
And my lowly opinion counted for nothing.
And anyway it is their company and they can run it as they like.

There were some people on the panel that eerily matched those Apple executives.

They were the highly paid journalist/media executives.
They had already discussed the issues with other highly-paid media executives.
And my lowly opinion counted for nothing.
And anyway it is their media and they can run it as they like.

All credit goes to Reuters for holding the event and I hope they do more but... Ideas were discussed in that event - I got to make my point - many people made their points. And you go away from the event with cold, empty feeling that it made no difference whatsoever. The executives had already made up their mind and they were not there to listen.

I would not care so much except that this issue is critical to the future of world stability. The US is sleepwalking into another disastrous and possibly nuclear conflict with Iran. There is no proper debate on the status of US troops in Iraq. And the media is committing just the same mistakes as before. It is not challenging the politicians on the real issues. Already the New York Times issued an apology for not debating the Iraq war properly. But has the lesson been learnt? Mahmoud's blog. Says it all:
The question is not whether Iran, being sovereign nation, has the right to pursue a nuclear program, the question seems to be “give me an excuse to nuke their ass!”


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