Tag Archives: Sensational media

Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings

“Journalists are humans, not story-pursuing robots salivating for the death of young kids.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-23-2018

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, right, told CNN host Alisyn Camerota on Friday that the news media “loves” the ratings delivered by mass shootings—a remark that drew condemnation from journalists on social media. (Photo: @CNN/Twitter)

Journalists on social media pushed back on Friday against NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch’s claim that the news media “loves” mass shootings because they deliver ratings boosts.

“Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,” Loesch said Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), addressing reporters in the back of the room. “Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media.”

Loesch’s comments echoed those made in a video released this week by the NRA, in which gun rights activist Colion Noir argued, “If there’s one organization in this country that has a vested interest in the perpetuation of mass tragedy, it’s the mainstream media.”

The former Blaze host doubled-down on her comments in a Friday morning interview on CNN with Alisyn Camerota, who told her, “You’re wrong on every single level,” and argued against her claim that shootings provide a ratings boost for news programs.

“Americans have reached saturation level,” said Camerota. “They’re so sick of it and it’s so heartbreaking that they actually often turn away.”

Many in the news media have pushed to refine how news stations cover mass shootings, urging journalists to focus less on the perpetrators of attacks. Much of the ongoing coverage of the shooting in Parkland, Florida last week has focused on efforts by survivors to achieve gun control legislation in order to prevent more shootings—a push that is strongly opposed by the NRA.

On social media, many reporters reminded Loesch and her supporters that journalists are members of their communities whose families are put at as much risk as any other American household by the prevalence of military-style semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15.

Others pointed to the emotional toll covering repeated mass killings—typically with little to no action by legislators in the wake of such attacks, to curb shootings—can take on journalists.

As Catherine Woodiwiss wrote at Sojourners last July, reporters’ prolonged exposure to violent and traumatic events including shootings can correspond with high levels of distress:

In 2014, a study of “frequent and prolonged exposure to deeply disturbing images” published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that the frequency with which a journalist watches violent content correlates with the journalist’s likelihood of having anxiety, depression, PTSD, or alcoholism.

The Radio Television Digital News Association also released a statement about the NRA’s new talking point.

“We are your neighbors. Your friends. We attend the same houses of worship. We go the same classes at the gym. Our children are in the same classes at school…We are deeply affected by tragedy. We are journalists and we do what we do because you have a need to know and understand the world around you.”

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Trump’s Twitter Drama Is a Massive Distraction

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 7-6-2017 by The Anti-Media

Generally speaking, people can be lumped into three main categories. The first category consists of the typical apathetic, celebrity-idol worshiping citizen who watched Miley Cyrus twerk on stage at the VMA Awards in 2013 and gossiped with his or her friends for a straight week afterward. This group buys this sort of nonsense as a source of entertainment. The second category is comprised of self-proclaimed academics who wrote overly-crafted opinion pieces claiming Miley Cyrus’ twerking – as one commentator put it – either “drew criticism from feminists for degrading her sex and from some pundits for ‘picking the pocket of black culture.’”

Then you have the third category – a lone, isolated group of individuals who pay zero attention to the celebrity world and realize that at the same time Miley Cyrus’ VMA stunt took full swing in the media, the Obama administration was attempting to bomb another sovereign nation into complete submission over unfounded allegations of chemical weapons attacks. As we now know, this military strike plan actually involved taking out Syria’s air defenses and air force, a strategy that would have required approximately 70,000 U.S. troops and led to countless Syrian deaths. Continue reading

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You are the new gatekeeper of the news

Aly Colón, Washington and Lee University

News consumers today face a flood of fake news and information. Distinguishing between fact and fiction has become increasingly challenging.

In the past, news organizations sifted through information to try to determine its validity and veracity. Being trusted for what they reported became an important part of journalists’ reputations.

But that was then.

You are part of the problem

Journalists like Walter Cronkite used to be gatekeepers of the news. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cronkitejfkdeath.gif#filelinks

Now the gatekeeping role that the legacy media newspapers and network television news once played falls to all of us. Today, everyone assumes the position of publisher. Technology has democratized the process of making, or making up, news.

Journalists no longer decide what goes public. Information flows unimpeded and unchecked through the internet, filling a multitude of websites, blogs and tweets.

All of it flows through social media streams and into our laptops, tablets and smartphones. Everyone who posts, or reshares, a news story on Facebook or retweets a link takes on a role once held by only a powerful few media executives. The problem that emerges today stems from the fact that most social media “publishers” fail to consider the responsibility for what they post.

It’s not that fake news is new. Thomas Jefferson complained in 1807, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” Jefferson’s comment represents just one of many views regarding news not only in the U.S. but in Europe. Fake news can be traced back Italy in 1475 when a priest made a false claim about a child’s disappearance. Even the political battle between Marc Antony and Octavian to succeed the murdered Julius Caesar engaged the use of fake news. Octavian’s use of fake news enabled him to succeed Caesar.

And it’s not that the old gatekeepers were infallible or consistently apolitical. But in today’s technological world, we’re in the midst of an informational perfect storm. The equation I might offer would be: Velocity + Volume = Volatility. All the news on the internet moves so fast, and assaults us with so much, that the outcome becomes unpredictably dangerous.

Some people who use social media check what they publish. Others repost or retweet information without reading it carefully, much less doing any due diligence for accuracy. That plays into what those who produce fake news hope to accomplish. While some believe they hope to deceive people, press critic Tom Rosenstiel asserts, “The goal of fake news is not to make people believe the lie. It is to make them doubt all news.”

Some may think that young people, with their social media savvy, might be better able to assess the information they consume.

A Stanford University study found it shocking that many of them couldn’t “evaluate the credibility of that information.” The study noted that more than 80 percent of middle schoolers saw “sponsored content” as actual news. High school students didn’t verify photos. Most college students failed to suspect potential bias in an activist group’s tweet.

Step up your game

So what are news consumers to do? How can they act as their own gatekeepers, intent on vigilance and verification like the best journalists and publishers of old?

Here’s how to begin.

#1. Check out the source. This may seem basic, but it’s easy to read headlines without paying attention to who wrote it. Writers and websites operate with their own perspective. Some want to offer a balanced view. Some advocate a point of view. Others hope to deceive you.

Know the “who” or the “what” of the source. Is the source, website, Twitter handle or blog familiar to you? Have you read them before? Read other work they have done. See if writers you trust link to them.

Read the “About” section of the writer/website. Use search engines to track the name. Sometimes such sites as Linkedin or Facebook turn up basic background information. The key is to know where they are coming from.

#2. Check out the information. Do other sources corroborate what you’re reading, viewing or hearing? Have you used verification sites such as Snopes, Politifact and FactCheck.org?

Snopes, for example, reported that some of the “2017 inauguration photos” tweeted out of Trump’s inauguration were taken weeks or years earlier. One was a photo of the Kansas Royals baseball team rally. Politifact pointed out President Donald Trump’s press secretary’s assertion the inauguration had the largest audience – period – was disputed by other measurements. And FactCheck.org noted that former President Barack Obama “falsely claimed that a treaty he signed with Russia in 2011 ‘has substantially reduced our nuclear stockpiles, both Russia and the United States.‘”

Dick Grefe, a senior reference librarian at Washington and Lee University, alerted me that two professors at the University of Washington have proposed teaching a course “Calling Bullshit: In the Age of Big Data.” The course would “focus on bullshit that comes clad in the trappings of scholarly discourse.” What’s fake isn’t limited to news.

#3. Be aware of your biases. Remember that we tend to read, listen to and watch news with our own built-in prejudices. We evaluate information based on whether it supports what we already believe. It can be easy to discount that which upsets or challenges our worldview. Reports about “confirmation bias” abound. As studies and writers have noted, we basically believe what we want to believe.

The concern journalists feel about how misleading and confusing the news can be has prompted a number of them to offer their own guides to approaching biases and fake news. Journalist and media expert Alicia Shepard offers her suggestions on how to avoid being duped. Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who founded the News Literacy Project, grapples with confirmation bias head on. Steve Inskeep at NPR provides a guide to facts.

Battle your own confirmation bias by expanding the sources of information you seek. Be open to thinking about different points of view. Read widely. Read counterpoints. Watch for innovations from the media. For example, one recent study published on MarketWatch placed different news sources on the “truthiness” scale. Another, older piece on businessinsider.com could help you identify the ideology underlining your favorite source of news.

There’s no need to close the gate, but be sure you know what’s flowing in. It matters.

The Conversation

Aly Colón, Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics, Washington and Lee University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Under Cover of Christmas, Obama Establishes Controversial Anti-Propaganda Agency

“It owns all these not-at-all-important laws are smuggled into NDAAs that are signed on Christmas Eve with basically no public debate,” wrote media critic Adam Johnson

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-26-2016

Buried within the $619 billion military budget is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the final hours before the Christmas holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget (pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms.

The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State Department which coordinates efforts to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests.” Continue reading

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5 Ways George Orwell’s 1984 Has Come True Since It Was Published 67 Years Ago

By Claire Bernish. Published 6-8-2016 by The Anti-Media

orwell-1984-propaganda

United States — It’s debatable whether George Orwell surmised the ominous threat of totalitarianism that inspired him to pen the dystopic vision, 1984, would extend worldwide and resurface nearly seven decades after its publication. But the novel’s apt description of a world on end have undoubtedly come to pass.

Innumerable examples evidence how 1984 would better be described as a dark portent than a fascinating read, but one thing — the political language dubbed Newspeak, employed by the ruling government, Ingsoc — seems to have served as an instruction manual for the American empire. Continue reading

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Crime Scene Becomes Media Circus as Journalists Rifle Through Shooters’ Home

“Everyone responsible for this should feel deeply ashamed,” said independent journalist Allison Kilkenny in reaction to bizarre episode

Written by Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-4-2015.
Image via MSNBC screenshot.

Image via MSNBC screenshot.

Disbelief and immediate criticism followed as a bizarre situation unfolded on live television Friday afternoon when numerous journalists, unobstructed by police or other agencies, streamed into the home of the two people who carried out Wednesday’s mass murder of fourteen people in San Bernadino, California.

The apartment of Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik—both of whom were killed in a shootout with police on Wednesday and subsequently identified as the perpetrators of the earlier mass shooting—has been a key focus of the investigation by law enforcement agencies who have been trying to piece together the planning and motivations behind the attack as well as details about the couple’s lives.

However, with the residence apparently left unguarded by law enforcement, a large contingent of journalists, including camera operators sending live footage to major outlets like CNN and MSNBC, entered the apartment and began rifling through personal belongings and rummaging through what many observers assume could be potentially valuable evidence in a high-profile criminal investigation.

Early reports indicated that it was the landlord who gave journalists access to the home, though the man identified as the landlord told the local CBS affiliate that he didn’t let them in, but that they “rushed in.” Footage from the scene shows at least one unidentified individual removing plywood from the front door with a crowbar.

The FBI, which has now taken over the investigation, answered questions about the incident by stating the scene had been fully processed and that authority over the property was, in fact, turned back to the landlord.

The following is a portion of what MSNBC aired lived:

The response on social media to what unfolded was nearly immediate, with many criticizing outlets for showing live shots of personal objects, including photos of children.

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As the story broke, Politico reported:

Harry Houck, CNN law enforcement analyst, said on air, “Usually in an instance like this, if crime scene goes in and does the work and comes out, you will keep that scene locked up, and with the sign on board saying that you cannot come in until the police release it. The fact is, maybe they did not do that here. I am I will tell you, I’m so shocked I cannot believe it. This is detective 101 for crying out loud. And now we have what looks like dozens of people in there totally destroying a crime scene, which is still vital in this investigation.”

The landlord, Doyle Miller, told CNN, “This is unreal. And I need to assess the damage. It’s a lot worse than what I thought.”

Despite the FBI’s subsequent announcement that the scene had been clear, other agencies seemed gobsmacked that journalists had been able to wander through the house and tamper with personal property as well as possible evidence. When contacted by the online news outlet Grasswire, Deputy Olivia Bozek, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said, “I don’t know what’s going on. That is not a cleared crime scene. There’s still an active investigation going on.”

Meanwhile, outside expert observers had a hard time believing that house should have been made available to either the owner, journalists, or the general public. The New York Daily News described how “security consultants on cable news watched the live feed in horror, slamming the moment as the destruction and contamination of a major crime scene. One even said that allowing the media to defile the scene he most ‘shocking screwup in police history’ and could not understand why cops on any level would have allowed such a thing to happen.”

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Everything’s Bigger In Texas – Especially The Crazy

Starting today, approximately 1,200 U.S. troops, mostly Special Operations forces, will participate in a two-month military training exercise named Jade Helm 15, which takes place across seven states in the American Southwest, including Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Jade Helm logo. Photo via YouTube

Jade Helm logo. Photo via YouTube

Normally, people would think “So what else is new?”, and continue on without a second thought. Military exercises aren’t anything new, after all. However, this isn’t the case with Jade Helm 15. A combination of the Internet, talk radio and toxic politics have made Jade Helm 15 a conspiracy theory fan’s delight. And, Ground Zero for all the insanity is the state of Texas, of course.

This shouldn’t really surprise anybody. After all, Texas is the home of some of the more “entertaining” characters in modern American politics, such as James Richard “Rick” Perry (the first person to run for a major party’s presidential nomination while facing a felony indictment), Louie “aspersions on my asparagus” Gohmert and, of course, Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, who actually was born in a foreign country, yet whose eligibility for the presidency isn’t questioned. Oh – and we can’t forget the father of the modern libertarian movement (which is more a repackaging of John Birch Society ideals than anything else); Ron Paul. Continue reading

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Integrity? What Integrity?

One of the stories that our media likes to cover instead of covering news that really affects the human race reared its head again this last weekend. Yes, the incident known as Deflategate was back in the news, to the unspoken sighs of relief from media outlets all over the country who were suddenly freed of maybe having to run a story about something that mattered.

Yesterday, the penalties for those involved were announced by the NFL. They include Tom Brady getting a four game suspension, two team employees being suspended indefinitely and the team being fined a million dollars as well as losing draft picks.

There was the usual blathering from league spokesmen about how the people involved “compromised the integrity of the league and the game.” We would like to ask the league what integrity they’re talking about.

Ray Rice 2012. "Ray Rice 2012" by 1ravenscowboysnflfan - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ray Rice 2012. “Ray Rice 2012” by 1ravenscowboysnflfan – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading

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Is the news black and white or yellow and read?

On Monday evening, the New York Times ran a story claiming that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record..

Brian Williams. Photo by David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Williams. Photo by David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The story was treated as breaking news on the cable news networks, with the pundits wringing their hands and talking in whispered tones about the possible violation of federal law by the person commonly seen as the Democratic front runner for the 2016 presidential nomination. The story went viral on social media as well, with all the misinformed commentary you would expect.

Something didn’t seem right to us about the story, though. Due to the hyper-polarization of US politics these days, we’ve seen the House of Representatives conduct numerous investigations of the Obama administration and their actions on September 11, 2012 and the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. We would think that this fact would have logically come up during the investigations, and, if there was anything illegal about it, that it would have been splashed all over the papers before now. So, what’s the real story? Continue reading

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Talk About A Hatchet Job!

Photo By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fall River, Mass, 1892: On August 4th, reports of bodies and killings at the Borden home shocked the small community as the news of suspected Lizzie Borden began to circulate. A crime that was sensationalized swept across the nation as speculation surrounding Lizzie’s guilt or innocence were tried in every venue except an actual courtroom.

On Monday, August 4th of 2014, people are still talking about Lizzie Borden and whether or not she wielded a hatchet that hit her father with 11 blows, to be followed with an attack on her stepmother involving 19 hatchet strikes. In 2014, the owner of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast sells out tickets for 8 shows involving 17 actors from a local theater company to re-enact the grizzly 1892 slayings.

“They make their own assumptions as to whether Lizzie could have wielded a hatchet 11 and 19 times … or if the Sunday school teacher is innocent, just as her peers did at the time.
Once again, the Pear Essential Players will put on the annual re-enactment on the anniversary of the killings, this year on Monday, Aug. 4.

According to a report from The Herald, a local newspaper; The current CSI script, written by Shelley Dziedzic, is tweaked a bit each year. The cast, 17 in all, changes regularly, too. Dziedzic has written several scripts and is planning on a whole new script for next year.”

Lizzie Borden was acquitted during her trial. She remained in Fall River until her death at the age of 66, on June 1in 1927.

Why are we talking about this? Because we find it reprehensible that 122 years after the crime, people today are still using the tragedy of the Borden family to pocket profits for greed. There is no longer any benefit other than the preservation of the macabre that would inspire anyone in this day and age to continue this behavior.

Is it not time for us to grow up and let the Bordens rest in peace?

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