The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Wed. May 14, 2003

Surly Media Serves No One

Surly Media Serves No One – I’m watching a live news conference on CNN, where off camera reporters are questioning Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the coalition commander in Baghdad.

When Gen. McKiernan speaks, you hear a calm voice, attempting to reasonably answer the question in a professional manner. When you hear a reporter speak, each and every time while I watched, you hear a shrill and angry voice, posing some of the most leading and biased questions I’ve ever heard from people whose job is to be objective; “sir, aren’t you ashamed of what you’ve done here?” Frankly, the press sounded out of control, as if they’d lost all professional demeanor and crossed over into that Star Trek episode where the crew members’ wild and heated emotions overwhelm their capability to do their job.

This was not the usual pointed questioning one might hope a public official would get, this had more of the tone you might expect at a press conference where dozens of members of Greenpeace questioned one whaler.

I have no doubt that things could be going better in Baghdad. And it is indeed the media’s job to shine a light on that. But no one is well served by media members whose tone is that of an abusive fishwife with an axe to grind.

They didn’t even pretend to be objective, their bias poured out in every syllable. One in particular seemed to almost be demanding that the US start shooting looters. It was the most shamelessly unprofessional press conference I have seen, among many many contenders.

I am left with great concern. Not about what the US is doing in Baghdad. But about the people who are supposed to be telling me what the US is doing in Baghdad. They give every indication they don’t have the professional capability to do an objective job.

I know conditions there are ugly for everyone. Perhaps they are suffering under the heat, deadlines, lack of cooperation, lack of power, lack of showers, lack of sleep. But I don’t think a nap is going to cure it.

The US administrative structure in Iraq recently got a good shaking up as some were assessed as less productive than desired, and new people were moved in to take their place. I would suggest that news editors need to be doing the same thing, because some of their people have settled into an ugly rut, and a fresher … more objective … perpective could be gained by rotating personnel.

[Later: weblog synchronicity from Jeff Jarvis]

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