Top Leaderboard, Site wide
July 28, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Newsletter

sign up to get updates


Republican Lawmakers on Strike
Paul Ryan’s New Clothes




The Sixth Extinction
War of the Whales


Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Arts and Culture

Chris Hedges on Alex S. Jones’ ‘Losing the News’

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Aug 14, 2009
Losing the News

By Chris Hedges

I have spent most of my life locked in the embrace of two of the most sanctimonious institutions in America—the church and the press. They each bow down before their self-created holy creeds, never tire of trumpeting their supposed virtues, which they hold up as the highest good, and are blind to their glaring inadequacies and mounting irrelevance. They are also, in a time of seismic cultural change, dying. 

Alex S. Jones, in his new book “Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy,” is a believer. Jones, a former reporter for The New York Times and the author, along with Susan E. Tifft, of “The Trust: The Powerful and Private Family Behind The New York Times,” defends the traditional press and castigates those who fail to acknowledge its contribution to our open society, its high ethical standards and the work and skill that go into producing the news. Jones believes that newspapers are the best guardians of what he calls the “news of verification” as opposed to what he calls the “news of assertion.” The “news of assertion,” he writes, “is mostly on display these days in prime time on cable news channels and in blogs.”

 

book cover

 

Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy

 

By Alex Jones

 

Oxford University Press, 256 pages

 

Buy the book

 

The technology of the Internet, like the earlier technologies of radio and television, is a phantom. It is a convenient and simplistic way to explain a cultural shift. To limit a discussion of news to technology, as Jones often does, means we simply have to find a way to plug the old bolt of newsprint and traditional reporting into the new machine of the Internet. But what is happening is far more revolutionary. We are entering an age in which the electronic image, endowed with the ability to manufacture its own reality, has thrust us into a state of collective self-delusion. We are embarking on a frightening, post-literate world where we confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge. The death of newsprint is intimately tied to this shifting landscape, including the parallel decline of the publishing industry. And the solution is not to cling to the outdated ethic of newspaper reporting but to adjust this ethic to confront a new cultural landscape. 

“Traditional journalists have long believed that this form of fact-based accountability news is the essential food supply of democracy and that without enough of the healthy nourishment, democracy will weaken, sicken, or even fail,” he writes. Jones concedes that “newspapers that sought to retain readers by investing in their newsrooms have not been able to show that this strategy pays off with a surge in circulation. The argument that quality will keep readers is not one that can easily be demonstrated.” He excoriates the corporate overlords of most newspaper chains for placing profit over content and pleads for a return to the ethic of news as a public trust. 

To see long excerpts from “Losing the News,” click here.

The newspaper elites, like all dying elites, have built ideological and physical monuments to themselves—look at the new $600 million New York Times headquarters—in the same way the pharaohs decided to construct massive pyramids to their own immortality at the very moment Egyptian civilization fell into irrevocable decline. These elites celebrate a past greatness and era of moral probity that never really existed. Those running newspapers remain blind to their own systemic flaws, which saw them serve as propagandists for the invasion of Iraq and consistent apologists for the criminal class on Wall Street. They have proved unable to adjust to a changing landscape and have become objects of ridicule, as “The Daily Show” illustrated when it visited the offices of The New York Times. 

Objectivity, the sacred creed that Jones and the old elite hold up as the highest good, has as often been used to blunt truth as disseminate it. The creed of objectivity, as Jones points out, “sprang mostly from the commercial interests of newspaper moguls in the 19th century, who wanted to sell papers to as many people as possible.” Objectivity worked as long as there were two clear, discernible sides, but this bifurcation of reality is in fact quite rare. Reality never quite lends itself to this simplicity. The creed of objectivity, which treats human reality the way the scales of justice treat a court case, has often stymied reporting, especially about the oppressed. It elevates the oppressors and the oppressed to the same moral level and obscures the truth. This pleases the power elite and mollifies the corporate advertisers but frequently does little for journalism. 

The New York Times’ commitment to “objective” journalism, for example, clouded the reality of the lynching of blacks in the South. Read these stories now and you shudder at their mendacity and heartlessness. More than 4,000 African-American men and women were hanged, shot, mutilated, burned alive or killed in other horrible ways by white mobs between 1880 and 1947. And the articles, while they report the lynching, also report what historians have now found to be lies: that these black men raped white women. The Times in an editorial in 1894 decried those who take the law into their own hands. However, the paper wrote, “the crime for which Negroes have frequently been lynched [rape], and occasionally been put to death with frightful tortures, is a crime to which Negroes are particularly prone.” The paper proposed that the states do the hanging legally. Balance becomes, in moments like these, repugnant. 


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Buzz Trexler, October 11, 2010 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You write:

“And the solution is not to cling to the outdated ethic of newspaper reporting but to adjust this ethic to confront a new cultural landscape.”

Right. Far be if from we dinosaurs in journalism to insist upon the ethic of balance, accuracy and running the good race of objectivity in presenting both sides of a story.

Give me a break.

Report this

By StuartH, August 20, 2009 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Samson:

I have seen the listings on sites such as elance.com for special interest
blogging, but I have not detected comments on this site that seem motivated
by such a gig. I thought about trying it myself, but it seems like it would take all your time for it to be profitable and there have to be better options.  I wonder who really does that…

Those who identify themselves here as conservative seem to be sincere.  More
interesting is the phenomenon of posting comments on Truthdig without thinking, thus creating somewhat incoherent text blocks.  I’m not sure what causes that unless it is the sheer excitement of being able to post.  That’s understandable.

The problem with the reportage of the Iraq War came largely from the pressure
to conform to the conservative real estate industry advertising base that most
newspaper operations depend on.  This might be described as the local Chamber of Commerce, although by itself, this body doesn’t have the impact the major check writers for those display ads have.  Check out what a page sized color ad costs.

Accounts receivables are usually multi-million dollar propositions.  You step more cautiously around people you want to collect that kind of money from.

You may have noticed that Knight-Ridder papers did a decent job of covering Iraq - then they got bought out. 

Newspapers have become a highly capital intensive business.  To start up a
daily newspaper now would take probably ten billion dollars or more.  There
are large constraints on them to keep the advertising dollars rolling in at the
highest possible volume.  Usually this is because they are owned by holding
companies who simply want them to suck up all the dollars possible while
holding costs (like the newsroom) to the absolute minimum.

In the local market, there are more toes to step on if this volume is to be kept
up.  In the 1970s a whole lot of independent newspapers went out of business,
to some extent because of the rising costs (controlled by interests such as the
development industry where lumber products included paper,) and to some
extent because advertisers and the banks that loaned them operating capital
decided they didn’t want independent newspapers.  Really it is a mania for
private interests over the public interest at all levels and in all forms.

Report this
Samson's avatar

By Samson, August 20, 2009 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Does everyone who reads the comments on sites like this understand that there are consultants who provide the service of posting comments on these sites that are favorable to their clients?  Yes, while the claims that you can make money posting links to Google are total BS, you can make money posting comments.

Of course, since the right and the wealthy are the ones with the money to pay for this service, you generally have to be willing to be a right-wing nut to get paid to do this.

Report this
Samson's avatar

By Samson, August 20, 2009 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

I typically like Mr. Hedges writing.  But this piece makes me say “C’mon man.”

The problem is, to me he’s making up a phantom image of newspapers which have journalistic integrity and which report the ‘news of verification’.

Really.  Please tell me which newspapers in America practiced the ‘news of verification’ during the lead-up to the Iraq war?  None that I ever saw in Denver or Atlanta, that’s for sure.  In both places, the monopolistic newspapers printed all the lies of the government and Pentagon without verification.  And they completely ignored or ridiculed any voices pointing out the lies, even when millions gathered in the streets in public protest.

And nothing has changed since.  They report the same lies on Iran anytime the powerful want them published.  Or, when a friendly coup is staged in Honduras and citizens who fight for democracy in that country are gunned down in the streets, that ‘news’ is carefully edited out of the papers entirely.

And none of this is new.  Its been that way for the 40 years I’ve been paying attention.

Newspapers are losing readers because they are worthless.  In local news, they report only what the local pols in power and the local chamber of commerce want you to know.  If there is a key hearing about some project they are pushing, the local paper will only tell you about it when its too late for you to act as a citizen.  And on the national or international level, they’ve been totally useless as they constantly push only the US propaganda line.

As such, the newspapers have become useless in the one service they claim to provide.  They do not provide accurate or complete news.  You can not understand and act in your world based on the information you’d get from a newspaper.

As such, more and more Americans don’t bother to buy the things and don’t take the time to read the useless information in them.  That’s a logical and predictable response to the junk they’ve been printing for at least 20 years.

Report this

By StuartH, August 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

Ozark:

I appreciate your comments.  I understand my own bias, more or less.  I have a
somewhat tentative relationship with it.  That is why I feel that I should try and
construct some sort of background explanation.  I try not to extend myself
beyond what I know, and especially what I know because of tested experience. 
I think the proper way to establish a story is to expose myself a bit.  My
conclusions by themselves are probably not better than anyone else’s.

There is something about the way you write that seems just under the surface,
as if you come from a background that reminds me of my mother’s.  Probably
not very similar. She struggled to be a writer.  After she passed away I looked
through lots of notebooks.  I found the real struggle there was between a
family tradition, whatever it was rooted in, of considering most everything
nobody else’s business.  Trying to write that way, really makes for a lot of
frustration, because the substance of any story telling, any attempt to weave a
connection between us, comes from sharing something of significance.
To avoid significant sharing is to avoid the potential in communication.  It is,
however, a balance that is hard to achieve, and thus a miracle when achieved.

The “You Leftists” thing is about tone and context.  If I were to say “You
Evangelicals” you might get the same feeling, that it is a broad brush used as a
general diminutive by many people.  A pejorative,  not a mere reference. Again,
it is the use of it.

There are lots of ways that our language context creates uses for disparaging
little digs and they can become habit forming.  It is hard enough to sort out
biases and try to discuss subjects like “journalism” which is impossibly all-
consuming without relying on too-easy shortcuts that borrow from serious “Us
vs Them” polarization.

Truthdig as a paragon of virtue?  I haven’t quite figure out what it is, really.  I
think it is an experiment that works at some times better than at others.  I can’t
believe anyone would claim that the ultimate wisdom has been achieved by this
yet.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

People who want to understand things from a big picture perspective and who try to really analyze what is going on, and who might want to view things from something other than a “We Win, Ha Ha You Lose” perspective tend to be more and more ignored.

I have to agree. But if you think Truthdig articles attain the high level I want some of what you are smoking.

“Truthdig articles are written in the, “We win Ha Ha You Lose” vein more than even Fox news. Which by the way is perfectly alright. Just dont hold Truthdig up as some sort of standard if you really want to analyze the big picture.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

But if there is to be a fair analysis, there has to be some attempt to create definitions and categories that everyone can agree are reasonable and to view the bigger picture and recognize various options for seeing it.

That process in itself is a game. You dont seem to be aware of that. You already have rules, and even the desired results embedded in the definitions. This is rather high handed of me to say but I have been in this spot many times before, and i know how it works. “This spot” being in my own field of study and practice, where I could see through the false premises and lopsided definitions right away.

I dont know a thing about journalism in practice or in theory. So I am not so sure that i can argue about the rules and definitions with the insight needed. I guess i am disqualifying myself by admitting that.

Those who use terms like “The Left” use too broad a brush.

What would you like to be called instead? The “Smart Ones?” How about “the Good Guys”? “Those Who Know”? Or maybe “the Brights?”

Let me say that you are having an interesting conversation. Much like the other thread. I am not against it and i even feel a little bad about knocking it because it is civil and informative. I dont mean to make it complicated, nor do i wish to inhibit anyone from speaking their mind. Just be aware of your bias, which is plain as day.

Report this

By StuartH, August 19, 2009 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Those who use terms like “The Left”  use too broad a brush.  Usually, when this
term is used, it is from a misunderstanding of what it means.  Also, it is a sign
that we are being asked to engage in a political contest analysis that is a
certain lens to look through, but isn’t necessarily the only one. 

It’s OK to be looking at this through a political lens.  To some extent this is a
world where everything is marked out like a playing field and the attempt to
win elections and other kinds of competitions is pretty basic. 

But if there is to be a fair analysis, there has to be some attempt to create
definitions and categories that everyone can agree are reasonable and to view
the bigger picture and recognize various options for seeing it.  Using terms
that are commonly used as pejoratives and techniques for disparagement are
simply borrowing from the dishonest used car salesmen of the environment we
live in.  Such creatures are not to be found on any endangered list.

Those kinds of mental tricks get confused with a discussion about what is
going on all the time, which makes it a walk through a carnival funhouse.  All
the funny images in the mirror can be quite startling, but what are we really
seeing?  Behind them is a structured reality which operates economically and
from various threads of history and necessity.  The purpose of the management is to get our nickel and manipulate us for any and all forms of profit.

If you really look at the history of journalism, you see that in the medieval
period, it was illegal to print books or even to read and write outside of church
authority.  Once the invention of moveable type made it possible, more and
more popular literature proliferated.  This meant more freedom of thought and
the Enlightenment made the US Constitution possible with its centerpiece,
speech freedom. 

Up until probably the period around WWII, a lot of journalism was independent
and idiosynchratic.  Sometimes great, sometimes really awful.  Then, with the
rise of literacy following the GI Bill which increased the number of people who
valued civic responsibility for themselves, journalism arose as a profession,
more or less with unions for linotype machine operators. 

The great practitioners like Edward R Murrow or I. F. Stone replace Hearst as a
model for a college educated middle class.

The small and mid level businesses that were a part of the middle class
economy and operated the way newspapers operated in the golden era of the
‘40s and ‘50s gave way to larger corporate offices and then holding companies,
which were no longer run by news business professionals, but by accountants.

Now we have a paradigm before us that is evolution at a high speed.  The
classic era of Vachel Lyndsay is gone.  Now, a good reporter and writer has to
rely on the book market, pretty much.  The local reporter no longer can afford
to hang around city hall and the county courthouse.  Most people do not realize
it, but what they are largely getting nowadays isn’t news, but PR. 

It is no wonder people have a tendency to think of journalism, information and
media as a game of conflicting PR interests and special pleaders whose
purpose can only be to out-propagandize the “Other Side.”  Spin and framing supercede source vetting for accuracy. 

People who want to understand things from a big picture perspective and who
try to really analyze what is going on, and who might want to view things from
something other than a “We Win, Ha Ha You Lose” perspective tend to be more
and more ignored. 

The crowd cheers when a blow is landed.  If it bleeds, it leads.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 19, 2009 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Presumably, Truthdig, was started to create an alternative place, a foothold on the web, maybe a desert island in a marooning ocean, for journalism.

Actually it was started by people who like to call conservatives by the name ‘fascists’. Hedges wants all journalism to be in this mode, although he certainly doesnt plan on warning the newspaper reader: “Hey, we aren’t going to even try to be objective anymore, because we have an axe to grind,” or the guy watching the evening news isnt going to hear a disclaimer: “Important facts are going to be left out because we want this story to make you feel a certain way.”

The journalism presented on Truthdig is consistantly quite Leftist, leaving out facts and even whole stories in order to keep the Leftist view of the world intact.

Which by the way, they have every right to do. Truthdig represents a strain of thought in America and i would not want to see that shut down. I like diversity from my own opinion. Thats why i read here. My own bias is whittled down that way.

However, anointing the Truthdig process as the highest pattern of ‘journalism’ is just a bit much. It shows a powerful bias. Not powerful because of how extreme it is, but powerful because you are unaware of it. My bias might be much more extreme than yours, but it is a weaker thing because i am aware of it. Perhaps, though you are smarter than i am, that is why I can tangle with you and do pretty well?

Forgive me if i cant join in the lofty zen calmness that looks down at those (such as myself) in the hustle and bustle. Since i care about politics, and since I believe certain things to be true, I have to make an effort to be objective. I admit that. But this isnt true just for a fundamentalist Christian. It is true for everyone, including Chris Hedges. Including you who read this now.

So for all its balance and poise, i wonder if this zen talk is simply using a spiritual concept to bolster your prejudice. Not that Christians dont do the same. Happens all the time.

Whether its jounalism or education or science, if we are not aware of our own bias it may seem as if our ideas are ascending to great heights, and we can mix spiritual concepts in to make it feel ever more wise, but in fact the project never got off the ground.

Report this

By StuartH, August 19, 2009 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

Gordy:

I like your zen analogy.  It is about Mind, about Consciousness.  To those who are tempted to see the world in more mechanical terms, these are too amorphous to consider. But language use and thinking are intellectual art forms.

Framing is a useful concept in looking at what is going on.  What people do not see that profoundly affects journalism as a system for informing public discourse, really is the result of public relations and the pervasiveness of the use of framing in defining the terms of discussion about reality.  Choices of words, and the meaning associated with them.  It is a contest about the meaning of the language itself. 

PR is enforced by threats of lawsuits so costly they cost everything.  Therefore, the media outlets with the most to lose (which cost the most to run) are the most vulnerable and the most eager to conform to organized PR interests.  But, if you analyze local weekly alternative tabloids, you see that the same condition applies to even the small business end of the scale.

So, the zen analogy applies to the individual in the exercise of conscience. Meanwhile, the corporate consciousness is wholly driven by economic concerns, and the forces at work where interests exert force on an institutional level.  Moral consciousness is largely banished from the process except as image. That is why we talk about “objectivity.”  That term arose to set up barbed wire fences to keep the individual conscience out of the process as much as possible.

This might seem like a conspiracy sort of thing, but only because the way it works is not obvious to those who aren’t clued in on the way the business side of all this works. The reason things are messed up is because the complexity of the whole scene is beyond any group of brains to understand it, let alone direct it.  The collective impacts are all an “externality” in the way pollution is to the industrial balance sheet.

What we are left with is propagandists shouting louder than the studious and moral followers of the zen way. 

Our mental environment is precipitating caustic rain.

Report this

By Gordy, August 19, 2009 at 4:31 am Link to this comment

StuartH, for my own part I think that it is possible to regard one’s own internal bias with the objectivity with which we can regard events ‘outside’ of ourselves.  This makes a bias cease to be a real, solid, permanent bias. 

The best real-life example I can recall is this: a friend of mine accompanied his Zen teacher, an old Japanese gent, to an academic conference at an American university.  They were staying in accommodation on-campus.  They had been also been accompanied by their postgrad research-assistants, who occupied the upstairs rooms. 

Before long, they got wind of the fact that the two research assistants (trying but failing to be discreet) were having sex with each other upstairs.  The Zen master said that this was intolerable and that he would have a word with them. 

“Why?” asked my friend. 

“Because it’s wrong.” 

“Is this Zen talking or Japanese culture?”

“Ah, Japanese culture.” 

And with that the Zen master never mentioned it again. 

This kind of impartiality is attainable but requires immense, heroic discipline.  It is more than worth the effort, but it is a road most people will never even take two steps down, resulting in a situation where every endeavour, whether at an individual or national level, will self-sabotage until humans at last learn to regard the ego as something to be tamed, not indulged.  I think that this is the living heart of discipline - it is not ossified discipline that comes from above, from convention or authority, and you just blindly obey.  It is a self-discipline that facilitates originality and creativity because it lets you see things clearly, even your own vanities. 

This does not belong exclusively to any one religion or school of thought, but some definitely address it better than others. A significant journalist is one who at the very least fails heroically in the attempt to grasp a reality beyond their preconceptions.  Any person, regardless of whether they are religious or secular-minded, who strives for excellence, must in doing so learn how to silence the ego in order to become completely absorbed in and given over to their craft.  Even a runner, who does not deal in arguments and opinions, must have a silent mind that ‘becomes’ the act of running, if he is to get the most out of his body and his training.  It applies to everything and should not be restricted to the performance of a particular craft. 

Unfortunately this comes across to most people as a difficult, intangible goal, obscured by myth, and it is just too easy to write it off either as fantasy, or something only for a spiritual elite - the majority of people do write it off, society actively supports this folly of resigning oneself to egotistical living, being itself largely adapted to and based around this folly, so it comes to seem like the sane and normal way to be.  So long as this situation prevails every contentious issue will remain, as you put it, a hockey game, an eternal war.

Report this

By StuartH, August 18, 2009 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment

Presumably, Truthdig, was started to create an alternative place, a foothold on the web, maybe a desert island in a marooning ocean, for journalism.

One of the more interesting things about these discussions about journalism is how little real knowledge about journalism actually informs them.

Having discussed complaints about the failures of newspapers, etc. with actual editors, publishers and writers over a long period, I think a lot of the energy seems to come across to them as special pleading - because unfortunately a lot of the time it is.

What that means is that when people feel that their interest or viewpoint is being left out and not sufficiently attended to, they feel that the whole enterprise must be biased towards another. 

There is a larger reality which requires looking beyond the obvious dichotomies, which is difficult for some because it means letting go of long held grudges which may be revealed to be wrongly perceived.

Journalism is an intellectual skill within a tradition of literature, which requires both education and talent.  People usually talk as if it were free of individuality, but actually, it boils down to particular individuals who are applying the skill according to one or another theory of how to operate. 

The model we all have in our heads, perhaps of someone like I.F. Stone, has to be correlated with a world in which increased communication technology means an exponential increase in options.

Ironically, it is harder to get paid to apply the skillset; on the other, it is easier to join the online discussion where there is no need for any discipline at all. 

One thing to consider, in Hedges work, is that book publishing seems to be where the emphasis has shifted, away from periodicals in the print domain.  There, the question seems to be about demographics.  Who buys books?  The marketer now sits with the editor, and subtly or not so subtly promotes a tone, a style, a bias. 

So, what we have is a proliferation of viewpoint biases that influence many individual writers to think that the way to achieve success is through being more artfully reckless about opinion spinning.  Less, in terms of the hard skill of fact checking, researching and thinking deeply. 

For the audience, it becomes more of a hockey game in which people choose sides, listen only to what reinforces preconceived notions, and cheer when their team puts points on the scoreboard. 

Sometimes I see this as increased vigor for democracy, sometimes I wonder if the intelligent voices are not being drowned out in mediocrity.  It can be both, and then, it requires that we learn to accept that we live in a paradox.  We can’t it seems, hope for a simpler map of the 21st century universe.

Report this

By NZDoug, August 18, 2009 at 12:37 am Link to this comment

Hate to tell ya, folks,
were the news…...
Dont just do something, stand there.
MEL FOR PREZ!

Report this

By Got the Note, August 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For more on this topic see the article by journalist Michael Massing in the New York Review of Books, Aug 13, 2009 issue:

The News About the Internet
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22960

Well written(certainly more readable than Mr Jones) and with many good links to political blogs.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Waler said: It is surprising that Chris Hedges chose not to cite perhaps the most glaring example of the New York Times’ commitment to “objective” journalism—Walter Duranty’s deceitful coverage of a man-made famine that killed millions in Soviet Ukraine during the 1930s.

Ah walter you are so right, but also so naive.

How many died in the Ukraine famines? 5 million? 10 million? Ah, my heart aches! I should know exactly and i dont.

Its bad enough that it happened, but its also sad that each person who suffered is forgotten, not only buried beneath other corpses, but buried by the fact that since they were murdered by Leftists we need to dismiss their deaths… as if it never happened. So no one talks about it and its hard even for anyone to remember.

I assure you, good hearted Walter, that if you think that the American political Left really means it when they talk about compassion and speaking up for humanity, you are wasting your time. I tried that assumption for years and I assure you it wont work.

Its all about politics and obtaining power. That is what Hedge’s advocacy journalism is really pushing for. 

5 or 10 million dead does not matter on Truthdig. They were killed by the wrong ideology for it to matter.  The American political Left didnt care when it happened and they certainly dont care now.

Report this

By kathy sullivan, August 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I admire Chris Hedges’ ponderings and find him more courageous than most journalists, I have one criteria for judging all their work: 9/11.  The big fat elephant in the room.  If they are not asking big questions about 9/11 where almost 3,000 citizens and counting (i.e.,firefighters who are dying of lung disease) in our own country, then they are irrelevant to me; they are still part of the gatekeeping press, those still influenced by foundation grant (corporate) money. They missed the biggest story of our lives and in doing so have done immeasurable harm to all of us.

Report this

By Turtle Soup, August 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Alex Jones’ family newspaper (now edited by his older brother) in Greeneville TN is bores its readers with Christian, Republican small mountain town news, with much column space devoted to auto accidents, house fires, the local multimillionaire, nostalgic memories of old timers and events like the National Day of Prayer. Recipes from an obese woman. Friday’s full page “the following advertisers invite you to worship at the church of your choice.” Of course the Greeneville Sun opposed the Civil Rights movement. A moral stand from the Jones family? Now really. Alex still has part ownership of the paper and others his family owns. The profits from the only paper in town have been handsome, the houses large, the schools private. The tedium continues, as does the Sun’s eternal publishing of Billy Graham’s “My Answer” on the editorial page. The paper will never fold.  We need the obituaries.

Report this

By pamrider, August 17, 2009 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

I heartily agree with Chris Hedges—to a point. I got offered my first job on a community weekly at the age of 14 in 1956. Our high school journalism program used the AP stylebook.

I was taught “objectivity” by profs who remembered the Lindbergh trial coverage. Beyond the wealth of owners and employees, I think there are two other problems: lack of consumer news savvy and the cliches of news reporting, among other problems.

As I have increasingly socialized with those not inside the media, I realize that people who are intelligent and knowledgeable think what’s in “the news” is truth. If there’s increased coverage of murders, they think that reflects the real world—they believe there are more murders, even though the USA rate has declined for decades. Consumer don’t know editors and reporters decided what’s news—often what they judge to be out of the ordinary. Therefore, the murder of a 5-year-old white child in an affluent suburb is news and the death of a 5-year-old Latina in an urban project shot by gang crossfire is “ordinary” and not news. We would live in a healthier world if news consumers understood the limitations of news decison making. It would help if reporters and editors apprecited that the consumer of their product don’t have a clue about what news is.

The cliches are insidious. “Nose for news” covers several aspects. This silly metaphore implies that a “good” reporter always “gets the story.” If there’s not really a story worth repeating, this means many reporters create a “feel” of newsworthiness (not necessarily lies, just lie-like distortion). Another cliche is the power of metaphor in explaining a world “we” understand, but might confuse a reader. My favorite goofy metaphor was Tom Friedman’s claim that no country with a MacDonald’s franchise had gone to war with another MacDonald-blessed country. The first nation the USA bombed after that claim was Serbia—which had a “Golden Arches” MacDonald’s franchise in its capital. In the past year, I have been “educated” about Friedman’s claim by someone who hopes for world corporate consolidation.

I’ll miss the major dailies, I just wish the owners, executives, editors, writers, and reporters would be the genuine self-devil’s advocates my favorite J prof urged me to be.

Report this

By CharlyAndy, August 17, 2009 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Gordy: Yes and “slippery slope” is just a way of looking at things.  In fact, in everyday life we all act as if we have free choice and might therefore be persuaded of something.  “Slippery slope” is an inexorable, mechanical way of thinking.  This kind of mindset is susceptible to “news of assertion” because it precludes the efficacy of questioning.  “Rush said it.  I believe it.  That settles it.”

Report this

By Gordy, August 17, 2009 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

CharlyAndy - what you said reminded me of this, which I happened to read recently:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope

Report this

By mthalermd, August 17, 2009 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

The truth is the ultimate objectivity - just ask any scientist.  A so-called balanced report is NOT objective if it gives the lie the same emphasis as the truth.  In most cases it is critical to get an opposing viewpoint into the text, but this can and should be done not by giving it equal billing, but by putting it in its proper place.  Balance should mean proper balance, not equal time for falsehoods and intentional misconstructions.

Report this

By CharlyAndy, August 17, 2009 at 4:21 am Link to this comment

The other day I watched a guy in one of the town hall meetings rail for several minutes in Arlen Specter’s face.  He did nothing but berate, no better ideas, no discussion, no respectful questions.  Specter just stood there and let him wind down.  It seems to me that the frame or context within which he and the others like him view things is one of the “slippery slope.”  The US is sliding down into the bottomless pit of Socialism/Communism and all that can be done is to bravely confront the disciples of evil.  There is no discussion with the devil.  For these people, there is no possibility of a synthesis of ideas from all camps because the world is Manichean.  I think this is why we are always talking past one another.  Our frames of perception are very different.  Personally, I am on the side of discussion so I think the only way out is to marginalize the slippery-slopers.

I think Kesey Seven’s take is unfortunately pretty accurate about the news.  The agenda of the for-profit news agencies is primarily to provide entertainment since that seems to be more universally popular than much else in the media.

Report this
godistwaddle's avatar

By godistwaddle, August 17, 2009 at 3:09 am Link to this comment

We’ve always had “advocacy” journalism, and the idea of “objectivity” has always been a scam.  The “news”, produced by corporations, “objectively” submits to our consideration mostly what capitalism demands—a view of corporate run, stable, now suburban ease, comfort, and prosperity. For newsmen to do otherwise would suggest that their corporate masters and the political whores are wrong about the “American Dream.”

Report this

By Essaywhuman, August 16, 2009 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ozark:

Your parable about the conservative talking head openly advocating for less objective and more pro-conservative view point news ignores the fact that this type of advocacy is already happening, in fact has largely happened. Witness the rise in conservative ideological institutions since the 70’s in support of the conservative movement. This was largely accompanied by a critique of the ‘liberal’ media that functioned more to marginalize mainstream media sources in the eyes of their conservative audience then as a reality based critique.

This is the difference between the conservative movement’s actions and the course of action Hedges calls for. I quote Ravenburnes from earlier: “There are many overlapping sides to any one issue or story. An important question to silently ask oneself when reading any article is “how many voices are represented here?”  It’s O.K. if it’s only one; it just means you will need to seek out other media outlets or talk to different types of people in order to obtain a balanced, more truthful account of the issue. This is the real problem.  It takes courage on the part of the reading audience, not just the journalists. It takes courage, patience, and an open mind to seek out and listen to rational, dissenting opinions and think about them critically.“Conservative media substituted the language of objectivity pushed by the corporate media for a language of ideology, one that asserted itself both through verification of friendly facts and evasion of unfriendly ones. Hedges calls for, on the part of the journalist, a language of confrontation that considers friendly and unfriendly facts. Without a critical literacy on the part of the reader, as defined by Raven, this process would seem to be no different then the onesidedness of the Limbaughs of the world. But good progressive journalism should challenge the reader, not substitute for actual thought. Otherwise it risks the ideological tyranny that you somewhat unhelpfully compare with the Soviet press, which today finds its most similar companion in Fox News.

Report this

By Kesey Seven, August 16, 2009 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment

Come watch the great flat-earth debate.

Today’s best journalists and talk show hosts will interview a Republican who thinks the world is flat and a Democrat who thinks the earth is mostly flat yet concave near the center. 

We’ll present both sides of this controversial and timely issue. 

You decide the truth: Is the earth flat or is it almost flat but a little concave near the center?

Details at 10.

Report this

By tom kelso, August 16, 2009 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Losing The News” is at minimum an 11 decade old American story. The fearful story of the hunger of power over liberty, a power that confuses private interest with the public well being.
In the 11th decade the look of the media has gone from the face once seen and never remembered, to a face never seen, made more firghtening as Hedges posits in a post literate world confused how we are to feel about knowledge.
The media war on the public is waged by means of description implicit in the daily realities which we live in, but which we live without sufficient awareness with no evidence that it will be dis regarded. When the media revealed a mass change in our material environment, did it first warn us? No it never does. When it reveals the culprit, the indolent rich shift the guilt and place it squarely in the lap of the weak and keep it there.
The law of unflinching power does not belabor the faithful with logic; they are better convinced by letting them alone.
In the words of Archibald MacLeish: “To many men and many governments the life of the human mind is a danger to be feared more then any other danger, and the word that cannot be purchased, cannot be falsified, and cannot be killed is the enemy most hunted for and most hated”.

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, August 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

Re: Gordy

Your comment: “Outraged, your second post did not contain salient facts only a load of bad things that have happened recently, and generalizations about people being hypnotized by TV,”

Consider again your logic…. is it plausible to claim “your second post did not contain salient facts” and then to also acknowledge it was, (according to you) “only a load of bad things that have happened recently”?

It cannot be both false and true.  In other words, either these things happened or they did not.  If they did, then only by recognizing what happened, assessing the damage and understanding how it happened can we move forward (if possible).  Empires rise, but they also fall.  This has happened numerous times in history, and while Christians had their “Armageddons” through many of them, in reality the world is still here.

This does mean that this empire could yet continue to decline, and fall.  It also does NOT mean that, in fact, it will continue to decline and then fall (at least in the near future).

If the American empire should fall, it does not mean the world will cease to exist, but it could mean that all types of havoc and treachery would be released.

We have gotten the fire under control, but the house is still burning…. it will be a while before it is completely extinguished, if this cannot be accomplished, it will invaribly burn itself to the ground.

This is the lesson of history.  The facts (as dismal as they can be) are not your enemy…. they are your STRENGTH.

Report this

By Gordy, August 16, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Kay Johnson (and Pennythoughts):

When I went to uni in ‘99 I imagined that I might get to mingle with all sorts of exciting deep-thinking intellectuals and dedicated budding artists.  Instead I encountered a lot of passionless career-minded mediocrities and precious few of any world-changing inclination, or anything inspiring like that. 

I heard stories about how different the campus was in the 70s; how staff and students together used to have big binges attended by rockstars, and sleep it off in heaps in the academic buildings.  I heard how the campus was full of vibrant militant organizations, how they chased away the Queen when she came to dedicate a building. 

I felt that I would rather have lived in those times.  Some things have declined. 

But I do not presume to possess the god-like perspective necessary to say ‘things are declining’ - to say that about everything, the world over, or even every aspect of one nation…  People have been saying that for thousands of years; you have to realise the limits of your own perspective (no matter how long you’ve lived) and acknowledge that the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s… were not heavenly for everyone everywhere. 

I’m sorry, I just cannot take this sort of generalization seriously - if it was always true then we’d have lived through 1000s of years of decline by now - we’d be eating babies and worshiping Glenn Beck as our new God.

Report this

By Gordy, August 16, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

I’m not sure, OzarkMichael - maybe I need time to think about this a bit more. 

I do think, however, that StuartH’s first post is particularly useful here, in particular his emphasizing of this point about false dichotomies.  Isn’t that the key idea of Hedges’ piece? 

I do think that that kind of ‘objectivity’ is better named ‘reductivism’ (I could think of less measured terms) and that we can safely say that it is not imical to good journalism. 

Hedges’ piece perhaps turns off the conservative reader by focusing on concerns of the left, but the main point is an almost technical one about what constitutes good journalism.  It’s about the craft.  If you boil everything down to the official line and the dissident line, and falsely equate the two poles, that is very poor journalism, I think. 

When I try to tell any kind of story in any context I simply try to be truthful; I do not consider two opposing views and balance and contrast them.

Report this

By Kay Johnson, August 16, 2009 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

“Even my own children are swept away in the entertaining technology of mindless trivia and dreams of wealth and success.”—Pennythoughts

Both of my sons are also caught up in the same swirl of wealth and success. In both of them, I noticed a definite change in their attitudes and beliefs during the second semester of their junior years in college. Now, both are in post graduate studies, and they both expect to make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, or more, upon graduation, or soon after. One will be an M.D. and the other is specializing in corporate organizational psychology.

Quite honestly, I don’t know who they are anymore. They both believe the hype of capitalism, and my son who will come out of his residency as a doctor who doesn’t even think I should have health care unless I can pay for it. Socialism, or universal health care—especially single-payer, is the “devil in disguise,” so to speak. My other son will graduate with a Ph.D. in “organizational psychology” which means that he will help corporations to make even more money, or higher profits, although in his arguments with me, he states that he will show them how to be “more efficient.”

I can’t help but think that the educational system, including higher education, is no more than an indoctrination of young people into the status quo. The other day, one of my friends called, and we discussed these issues—he also has kids in college and is dealing with the same issues. He asked me, “What ever happened to wanting to live a simple, decent life?” 

I agree with all of the points that Outraged makes in one of his posts. The decline is all around us, and how can we not recognize how pervasive it is?

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 16, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

I don’t think that Hedges is calling for a total abandoning of objectivity in quite the way you are saying.

Imagine my little story with Limbaugh. He only wants the news reporters to be advocates sometimes, only for certain causes, in order to flame the natural indignity that people should feel against… well, lets pick a specific topic of his… lets say illegal immigrants. Rush would not be calling for total abandonment of objectivity. Just some. Just for the ‘right cause’.

So its nothing to worry about? Are you ok with that?

No you arent. First because you think that there is another side of the story that ought to be told. Second, how in the hell is Rush going to stop conservative journalists from becoming even less objective? On more and more issues?

i](Hedges) believes that a false veneer of objectivity allows injustice to continue.

Yes it does.

But its better than the alternative.

Report this

By Gordy, August 16, 2009 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, I have to leave the house right now so I can’t elaborate much at present, but I don’t think that Hedges is calling for a total abandoning of objectivity in quite the way you are saying.  He believes that the present ‘objectivity’ is a false objectivity i.e. NOT TRULY OBJECTIVE and that it stifles the natural indignation that any human being, journalists included, presumably should feel when they see people starving and politicians lying.  He believes that a false veneer of objectivity allows injustice to continue.  When I see the ‘balanced’ BBC reports on the Iraq war, I have to agree, and the UK news ain’t as bad as the likes of Fox…

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 16, 2009 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

Gordy says: OzarkMichael, I don’t see Hedges calling for American Communism anywhere here…  Seems like a hyperbolic leap you are making; a bit like calling a Conservative Christian a Fascist, no?

Thank you for a reasonable response. Yes it is the same level of argument. Yes, Hedges has the same relation to Stalin that I have to Hitler. But Hedges is the one who is advising a bad course of action and I am not. That is the difference. Its a big difference.

One way I could explain the problem is to turn it around on you. Usually i do it indirectly and with irony, but today(and today only!) I will be direct:

If some talking head on the Right(imagine Rush Limbaugh) urges journalists on the Right to be less of objective, to intentionally avoid balance for the sake of advocacy, i dont think you would have a problem spotting some real dangers with that.

For one, this means that some facts would have to be suppressed and that dissenting opinions need to be marginalized ... not by the editorial page but by the front page.

You can see the problems. i dont need to enumerate further. Lets continue with my story. In my little story the talking head Limbaugh isnt a Fascist, but his advice certainly(even if unintentionally) drives the journalists into fascist style propaganda. Which is a pretty good way to bring about fascism, dont you think?

So my little story ends. To clear up any confusion, the little story is not what i want to see happen. Now if you can easily see the dangers from the Right doing this, why on earth couldnt you see the dangers from the Left doing the EXACT SAME THING?

Return to the real world, the everyday back and forth of power and politics, where unbalanced advocacy happens to some extent on all sides everywhere. Its normal, if not ideal. But at least journalists do not intentionally and without shame abandon their attempts to be objective. At least not yet. Chris Hedges is the one who is pushing for that, not me. He has called for this several times so it isnt just a stray comment.

Dear reader, wake up. You need to know that the tyranny from the Left is just as awful as tyranny from the Right. Focused on one half of history, you seem to have forgotten(or maybe you never learned because your public education is so one sided) the dangers from your own side.

Dont like what i am saying? You are self styled intellectuals, the open minded ones, and supposedly you are the inevitable future of the world as we Evolve and Progress. 

So argue with me. Try to be logical.

But dear reader, please do not attempt to swerve from arguing and learning, or distract yourself from inner reflection, by asking me who i am, etc etc.

Yes i am a fundamentalist Christian, and a conservative. What difference does that make? Except that you should have an easy time demolishing the things which my faith prompts me to say.

Report this

By Gordy, August 16, 2009 at 6:41 am Link to this comment

Prole: interesting and relevant contribution but please - you hurt my head by dissecting Noam Chomsky without paragraph-breaks!!  grin 

I disagree though that change can only come from outsider dissident groups.  Change ultimately comes from every individual human.  All levels of society, every type of group from major political parties to football teams, changes constantly.  I don’t think that there will be some legendary ultimate change for the good that comes from some Neo-like figure or some fiery group of latter-day Bolsheviks.  Society gradually evolves, yes? 

Also, I do not think that the journalists who attack the state’s latest target are the kind of journalists Hedges is rhapsodizing about.  I cannot be sure, but it’s not what came into my mind when I read the article.  I know one or two mainstream journalists and they are career-minded; they are not passionate guard-dogs of the state - they are ambitious reptiles when it comes to their everyday work.  This mentality is the problem - these are the people who are easily bought and manipulated. 

Passionate journalists have an open heart and will risk their entire career because when they saw Iraqi people being oppressed IT ACTUALLY UPSET THEM.  Tenured establishment writers have a surfeit of approval and consolation to lull them into merely wagging their fingers and believing that this is all that can be asked of them, when they ought to be shouting at the top of their voices.

Report this

By Gordy, August 16, 2009 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, I don’t see Hedges calling for American Communism anywhere here…  Seems like a hyperbolic leap you are making; a bit like calling a Conservative Christian a Fascist, no? 

He’s merely asking that journalists cease from removing their hearts from their work; I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.  He talks about ‘the worker’ this and ‘the worker’ that, and yeh sure it sounds a bit commie - but that’s Chris Hedges for you - you already knew that.  Fine, you object to his politics, but that should not prevent you from accepting a benign, not specifically political point about journalistic self-expression and integrity.  His politics are another debate altogether I think.

Report this

By Gordy, August 16, 2009 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

Outraged, your second post did not contain salient facts only a load of bad things that have happened recently, and generalizations about people being hypnotized by TV, none of which I disputed anyway; you didn’t address my point at all. 

PlasticDooor, that is a pretty cheap way of getting a good snark in while trying to claim a false moral high-ground - why not contribute something genuine to the debate then maybe posters will move away from their personal beefs and join you?

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, August 16, 2009 at 12:39 am Link to this comment

Article quotes: This is the spirit, shunned by the corporate managers of large newspapers and rejected by “objective” journalists, that we will have to recapture if journalism is to endure. It is the spirit, in an age of precipitous cultural and political decline, of open and direct confrontation, one embodied by the greatest reporters, such as I.F. Stone, who spent most of his career as a pariah because he exhibited the moral autonomy most mainstream reporters lacked. If we champion moral autonomy rather than the dead creed of objective journalism, we may save the press.....

......The “objective” standards by which they measure society are often useless. Their approach allows them to report accurate details—often fed to them by public relations firms that work for corporate or political interests—but give a misleading picture of the whole. Truth becomes, through objectivity, the principal vehicle of falsehood.”

This supposed objectivity demands that we throw all that we know and see aside and then requires us to accept and respond appropriately according to dictates we know and concretely understand to be meaningless.  Will we dejectedly accept the banksters crimes, but throw the donut thief in jail?  Is it reality to be “happy-campers” as paychecks morph into company store credit?  Shall we accept that Microsoft perpetually puts out a defective product, one which needs constant patches and fixes and yet cite its maker as a philanthropist?  Is this objectivity…. is there any intrinsic validity to what we are fed?

Truth skewed to this magnitude, is a lie.  The requirement that one read several tomes of differing facets in many sciences and master each plausibly enough to extract fact from fiction in our news is absurd, to the point of meaninglessness.

Without depth and integrity, news means nothing…. who watches(or reads… or BUYS for that matter), other than for entertainment?  Most often news is viewed as a comedy sketch, the one-sided embellishment so frightfully outlandish that it is discerned by all, but the facts elusive.  It’s a sordid game of “Whack a Mole” wherein truth and the voice of The People are not given a hammer.  I call it, “Find the Lie”, if I find it… I will lose, as George Carlin so decidedly stated, “the game is rigged.”

However, I agree with Mr. Hedges, “I like to think of the decline differently. I like to think that those reporters from older eras who knew that slavery and segregation were evil, who hated the baton-wielding goons hired to beat striking workers, who reported on inhuman conditions from the mills, factories and mines of the robber barons, who believed that elevating the oppressors to the same moral level as the oppressed was indefensible, will be resurrected as a new generation.”

Re: Gordy

That’s my rant.

Report this
prole's avatar

By prole, August 16, 2009 at 12:19 am Link to this comment

“Jones believes that newspapers are the best guardians of what he calls the ‘news of verification’ as opposed to what he calls the ‘news of assertion’.” Such a glib dichotomy of course, leaves out more than it encompasses. For both the “news of verification” and the “news of assertion” contain the news of vilification, an integral component of what noted media critic, Prof. Chomsky has termed, ‘The Vilification Industry’. In Jones’ “open society” where the means of physical coercion are not so readily available (not yet anyways, although the day may not be far off) as it is in more overtly authoritarian societies, then it becomes necessary to quash dissent by publicly vilifying the dissenters. As Chomsky puts it, “is directed almost reflexively against any person who can’t be disregarded who’s challenging power and authority, it comes automatically and in fact, it comes particularly in free societies…in free societies where the state does not have very much power to coerce, it’s necessary to turn to other measures to assure doctrinal rigidity, and it’s a very rigid intellectual culture” and so, as he notes, in the “huge debate about Iraq, check and see in the liberal media, NPR or so on and counterparts in England Canada, ask, how many times coverage differs from cheering for the home team in a high school football game, like how’s our side doing…in fact, much of the coverage now from the liberal end is not very different from the Russian press in the 80’s over Afghanistan, shouldn’t have gotten in, it was a mistake…[BUT] is it wrong to invade another country, is it wrong to carry out the supreme crime of Nuremberg for which we hanged people ...anyone who does say it or try to say it, they can be ignored, most are; if they can’t be ignored, the vilification industry goes into operation…and it’s a pretty natural development in societies that are free”. Sadly, it may not even be necessary to have ‘necessary illusions’ or a ‘vilification industry’ since the self-absorbed American public isn’t likely to rise up en masse even if an idealized “traditional press” offered a genuine “news of verification” that told the whole ugly truth. The “frightening, post-literate world where we confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge” is only frightening to the literate exceptions. So it shouldn’t be surprising that in the past, “papers, at least the ones that did not openly battle for greater justice, initially became very profitable. They did some great reporting although they also filled their pages with a lot of junk”. It was the junk - the comics, cross words, sports and gossip, etc. - that the shallow public liked best. And that’s still the same kind of drivel they flock to on the web. The irony is that even if “the main purpose of PR is to place information favorable to a client in a context of news so that it has more credibility with the public” it may not even be necessary at all, since the credulous public have so often shown themselves to be willing dupes, without it. “These papers could be an important corrective force in our democracy and could give an important platform to investigative reports. But”.....why bother, the complaisant public probably wouldn’t get off their fat arses to do anything about it anyway. In the end, the complicit American public gets the press it deserves. “The ethic that sustained it” is the ethic of the decadent American public and “it must be demolished if the press is to recover its thunder and importance in American society.” But it won’t happen from within. The “ethic” that sustained the American press is the same one that sustains the American public and the American empire and it can only be demolished by the gathering resistance movements around the world with their own kind of thunder.

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, August 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment

Re: Gordy

I don’t think I miss your point, at least I don’t feel I have, not from the first nor after reading your second post. (which btw, starts out calmly and ends at fever pitch) And you call my post a rant and full of rhetoric….?

For example, you said this: “I don’t see how electronic images are a radically new species of disinformation.”

And in the next paragraph, you continue: “People have anciently confused feeling with knowing, have anciently existed in collective self-delusion, have anciently lived in manufactured realities and taken symbols and images for realities.  It’s more of the same, with better technology.” and in another post this, ““Yes, we receive more bullshit messages than ever before, which is bad, but you are ignoring the good side, and there is one.”

Then you claim victimhood while attacking my post, surely you jest.  If you wanted to attack me (cause I’m getting the message I ticked you off) don’t excuse yourself by claiming victimhood as you engage in it.  Really….

Your statement: “I just read it again and to be honest it is so rambling and poorly-written I cannot even tell whether you are defending or attacking Hedges here - look, just make a simple honest point instead of trying to play the comedian, please.  It’s ‘Truthdig’ not ‘shitstir’.

But had no difficulty going down this road:

“I have no idea what your point was there - are you just saying ‘boo’ to anyone who does not uncritically and unreservedly agree with Chris Hedges?.”

AND:
“Yeah, it’s not a fucking utopia we’re living in - I think there’s a shitload wrong, which is why I’m here.  But these stoner-style doomsday rants”

“I was mostly wanting to support Hedges but point out that he could have reigned in the rhetoric a wee bit.  And you responded with a load of unhinged rhetoric of your own.”,

AND, “Otherwise they are pissing all over their opportunity to change the world even as they whine and fume about how awful it is.”

And to top it off…. you had the audacity to say, “Let’s try to stick to the facts, please!”

THEN, proceeded to ignore every fact I gave you in my second post and attempted to qualify that with the supposition,  “In fact I think they just make people feel more hopeless.” (Thank you Nancy Grace…)

Your entire post (Gordy, August 15 at 5:52 pm) is really framing the argument that “we” shouldn’t address facts that somehow might upset people, and exactly how (at least I, or anyone YOU consider a dissident) speak and conduct ourselves (which btw, implies you happen to know this…lol).

Report this

By Plastic_Door, August 15, 2009 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

None of these comments (so far) make any real sense.  They’re all snarks.  Peppered in here and there are pithy rejoinders, but they’re not reflecting that there is real thought given to what Jones or Hedges are writing about.

Report this

By jack, August 15, 2009 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those were the days, both there and here… so what’s changed?

2 things to never forget:

1. “Deception is a state of mind and the mind of the state.” - James Jesus Angelton - Director of CIA Counter Intelligence (1954-74)

2. “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” - William Colby - Director of the CIA (1973-76)

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment

Hedges writes: The creed of objectivity, which treats human reality the way the scales of justice treat a court case, has often stymied reporting, especially about the oppressed. It elevates the oppressors and the oppressed to the same moral level and obscures the truth.

What Liberals desperately want to live in is the simplist world possible. Journalists must answer Hedges call and write news in such a way that the reader already knows who is guilty just by reading the headline.

Stalin was pretty big on that. All the Progressive journalist had to do was write the word “Wealthy” or “Christian” to describe a person. While “comrade”, or “worker” was the word used to describe the ‘victim’.

You didnt have to even read the article. Oh, the entire nation would demand punishment just from the headline! Thats what we need here in the USA. Clear and powerful journalism.

And Chris, really, what you want is for the justice system to work the same way. What good is it for the Progressive Journalist to find people guilty if the courts dont follow through with the verdict?

And the Soviet courts did just that. You already know just from reading the headline who was going to get a bullet in the back of his head.

Furthermore, to obtain real journalistic efficiency, courts were dispensed with.

Just one story which was presented by the Progressive Journalist in Pravda was a command to every local KGB office throughout the USSR for immediate action. THOUSANDS of ‘Wealthy’ or ‘Christian’ folks were quickly arrested and shot for no individual reason except they were of the wrong class, or they were believers in an unbeliever’s world.

By the way, the Christians were often called fascists. Fascists? Hey! Thats your little buzzward, Chris. What a coincidence.

Thousands dead. From one Progressive headline that went beyond “objectivity” and “fact-based accountability”. And that went on every day for years, so the Journalists did much more good for their society than you can imagine. 

Those were the days, eh Chris?

Report this

By StuartH, August 15, 2009 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Gordy:

In another thread, about a video in which Hedges was interviewed about a “Second Revolution” out there among young men returning from Iraq and other groups, there was a turn of the discussion about evangelicals.  Hedges has a book out which examines movements in the past decade or so among evangelicals and uses the term, “fascist” as an attention getter. 

As a conservative evangelical Christian, Ozark Michael objected to Hedges (and others) use of the term, which he regards as needlessly hurtful as a term of prejudice that he has been made to suffer with for over 30 years.

I thought I would sum it up, as getting to that point took something like 200 pages of text in the last thread.  Making people read through that would maybe constitute torture…(joking)

Ozark, if that isn’t adequate, feel free…

Report this

By StuartH, August 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

Ozark:

Hey, how are you doing?  The other thread did get a little long. 

So, are you going to say which sect you belong to?

Report this

By Gordy, August 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, if I understood properly, he didn’t say that Chris Hedges is the god of writing; he just said he is at least a passable, somewhat responsible professional unlike some online ranters. 

When did he spuriously use the term ‘Fascist’?

Report this

By Gordy, August 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Outraged:

a) You miss my point.  The recent recession and the particular problems of the moment are real, but it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘things ain’t as good as they were in the good old days’.  There have always been problems, and no one sees or pays attention to all of them. 

Naturally, it is easy to take a rosy view of former times and focus on the present troubles assailing us right now, rather than making an even-handed comparison with the past.  I doubt news is overall worse now than it was in the 50s.  At least now fringe news-sources like Truthdig are freely available to everyone online - you have to admit the good along with the bad.  It’s stupid to argue that one decade or year was just ‘better’ than another.  No one has that god-like breadth of perspective.  For example, I once asked my dad what it was like in the 60s; he said, “just like the 50s”.  Just because some sections of society were getting all groovy it doesn’t mean it was groovy everywhere for everyone.  But history reduces the 60s to Vietnam war protests and Woodstock, and we compare this 2-D image with the present. 

Outraged, you are talking about the latest of many socio-economic bubbles; it is not Armageddon.  Is tyranny and manipulation new under the sun?  Of course not. 

b) Actually it was hard to see what you point b) was supposed to be but I think it was about media saturation?  Yes, we receive more bullshit messages than ever before, which is bad, but you are ignoring the good side, and there is one.  For a start we no longer just believe whatever the Church tells us, and we have a certain limited ability to engage in free debate and question authority. 

Yeah, it’s not a fucking utopia we’re living in - I think there’s a shitload wrong, which is why I’m here.  But these stoner-style doomsday rants aren’t any kind of contribution; in fact I think they just make people feel more hopeless. 

What really irks me here Outraged is, I was mostly wanting to support Hedges but point out that he could have reigned in the rhetoric a wee bit.  And you responded with a load of unhinged rhetoric of your own. 

Let’s try to stick to the facts, please! 

I think that Hedges is right about the need for passionate journalism, but if it’s just angry polemics we’ve got a loggerheads situation, whereas if people can be PASSIONATE BUT REASONABLE, factual and eager to PROVE THE POINT and debate principle in a mature manner, then even The Man will have to listen and engage somewhat, and there’s a chance of people growing together through debate instead of just fragmenting into a billion ideological factions. 

Runaway rhetoric and fixed ideas about the world not only keep everyone opposed and separated, they ensure that dissidents will always remain the marginal crackpots who are not taken seriously. 

Dissidents need to be mature and rigorous in their thinking and debating.  Otherwise they are pissing all over their opportunity to change the world even as they whine and fume about how awful it is.  That is the hard truth you have to face up to.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

StuartH said: Chris Hedges is a real writer, with a track record of trying to be a professional in reporting and adhering to at least some standards.

Chris Hedges, the real writer.
Chris Hedges, the real professional.
Chris Hedges, herald of the new objectivity
Chris Hedges, seeker of a new standard in journalism.
Chris Hedges, morally brave!
Chris Hedges, who writes with beautifully clear style, such as using the word ‘fascist’ to describe people he doesnt like… in order to sell more books!

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, August 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

Speaking for my own comment which you chose to selectively quote from, I was mostly agreeing with Hedges but with reservations about a) the oversimplifying narrative of ‘decline’ and b) the presenting of electronic media as some kind of new menace.  These seem, to me anyway, like quite reasonable points undeserving of ridicule.  Even if I read Hedges’ article wrongly, it would be a greater service to Truthdig to explain WHY I was wrong instead of just attacking me for being ‘negative’, or whatever you problem is exactly.” 

In response:

“a) the oversimplifying narrative of ‘decline’”

People losing their homes by the tens of thousands, approx. one-half million people losing their jobs each month for the past six months, the banksters walking away with billions of taxpayer dollars, our education system barely held to any standard other than compliance, the economy of the state on the verge of collaspe, thousands of people dying due lack of medical care, the all but disappearance of the middle class, propaganda disseminated by news organizations as facts, whole communities wiped out from home foreclosures….etc all in the richest country in the world.  Either I’m delusional, or that’s a serious decline.  To claim anything else is laughable.

“b) the presenting of electronic media as some kind of new menace.”

Electronic media tells us what to wear, what to eat, what is good, what is bad, 24/7 supposed news outlets repetitiously engaging in half truths and lies of ommission,  depicting the war as “shock and awe” instead of violence, death and starvation.  It tells us exactly why it was so important that Marsha attend prom.  We know more about how to address diseases that are so incredibly rare they are non-existent, than we do about what to do for the common cold.  We see that if one “tries hard enough” one can make it in this world.  All lies committed at an unprecedented scale for an unprecedented length of time.  We see that only the most conniving survive… and this is heralded as savvy.  We understand that more children than we believe need anti-depressant drugs.  These same children are at apparently “great risk” to also “need” ADHD drugs they tell us.  Everywhere some “helpful” hint, some underlying message… “aren’t you sick of your old plain jane mop”.... you must need a swiffer!”

It is a menace.  Entertainment or information is one thing, this current thing is off the charts messed up!

Report this

By StuartH, August 15, 2009 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Mary Ann:

Are you by any chance the same Austin, Tx citizen who ran progressive campaigns for a variety of good candidates?

Report this

By Pennythoughts, August 15, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I just finished reading Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion this morning.  Thank you for writing this important book.  I am old enough that I am no longer concerned about my own future in a world that is coming apart at the seams, but I do worry what kind of life will await my children and grandchildren.  For most of my life my voice has been nothing but a tiny squeak of protest against the deafening roar of corporate interest, but it is all I have and it is impossible not to continue to speak out.  Perhaps one day they will come for me - I don’t care. I am not afraid. I love humanity too much to sit by in stupefied silence.  Imparting passion into our children about their democracy is stunningly difficult.  Even my own children are swept away in the entertaining technology of mindless trivia and dreams of wealth and success.  Here in Canada, our sitting government seeks to pass legislation giving more power to the police to fingerprint and photograph people “before” they are actually charged with anything, in violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  No one seems to care. It’s had little coverage in the press. People think they have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear. We are facing a future so bleak and people seem incapable of comprehending. I rather hope I am already dead when reality does set in because it may be too painful to bear their rude awakening.

Report this

By Mary Ann McNeely, August 15, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

“news of verification”

This is the new euphemism for the lies of the MSM.  We will verify the lies spoken by politicians (defined by Hedges himself as mostly a pack of “venal mediocrities”).

Report this

By Gordy, August 15, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Aye, you’re not entirely wrong there mate.

Report this

By StuartH, August 15, 2009 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is a real writer, with a track record of trying to be a professional in reporting and adhering to at least some standards. 

Most of the people commenting here seem to be off their meds.

Report this
Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, August 15, 2009 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Not that I agree with him (this is a beautiful Chris Hedge’s piece),

Outraged does have a point here:

“anyone ever KNOW Mr. Hedges to “wave a magic wand”?”

Report this

By StuartH, August 15, 2009 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Outraged:

“Blither blather… blather blither.. and of course “everyone knows” blather…blather and blather…..”

Another product of the decline in educational standards.  At least Chris Hedges writes in beautifully clear style.

Report this

By Gordy, August 15, 2009 at 4:06 am Link to this comment

Outraged, I have no idea what your point was there - are you just saying ‘boo’ to anyone who does not uncritically and unreservedly agree with Chris Hedges? 

Speaking for my own comment which you chose to selectively quote from, I was mostly agreeing with Hedges but with reservations about a) the oversimplifying narrative of ‘decline’ and b) the presenting of electronic media as some kind of new menace.  These seem, to me anyway, like quite reasonable points undeserving of ridicule.  Even if I read Hedges’ article wrongly, it would be a greater service to Truthdig to explain WHY I was wrong instead of just attacking me for being ‘negative’, or whatever you problem is exactly. 

I just read it again and to be honest it is so rambling and poorly-written I cannot even tell whether you are defending or attacking Hedges here - look, just make a simple honest point instead of trying to play the comedian, please.  It’s ‘Truthdig’ not ‘shitstir’.

Report this

By jack, August 15, 2009 at 12:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“My nightmare scenario is one of bankrupt newspapers, news by press release that is thinly disguised advocacy, scattered and ineffectual bands of former journalists and sincere amateurs whose work is left in obscurity,” Jones writes, “and a small cadre of high-priced newsletters that serve as an intelligence service of the rich and powerful.”

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” - William Colby - Director of the CIA (1973-76)

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, August 15, 2009 at 12:46 am Link to this comment

Did you “catch” that Chris…  apparently all your “supporters”, absolutely and undeniably “see your point”.

“I think Chris, that you might drop the “moral decline” stuff, since the concept, “moral” is much like “literacy” or “love”. Better to use “increase in human suffering” (as an aside, Chris… well… I think they’re “trying” to tell ya’ something here….LMAO), since action to reduce human suffering and define it exactly, episodes of it, would be a less a subjective matter then(of course here one would think they could have… at the VERY LEAST hire someone who knows the difference between “then” and “than”..... what does that tell ya’...lol) waving the magic wand (anyone ever KNOW Mr. Hedges to “wave a magic wand”..... LMAO!) of “moral inclination” as an answer or remedy to how the media has failed us, and might improve its’ agenda and structure its’ institutions.”.....phreedom

LMAO…. of course…, I be but a nobody…. aint never done hadd that there learnin’

So, as an aside… did everyone get that “message”?  LMAO But wait….. this is not all, yes, it’s a “shamwow” moment.

I don’t see how electronic images are a radically new species of disinformation.  In the medieval age we had the propaganda of King and God disseminated by voice, spear-point and later print.  People were just as enthralled then as now, and then as now there were those who questioned the status quo. 

People have anciently confused feeling with knowing, have anciently existed in collective self-delusion, have anciently lived in manufactured realities and taken symbols and images for realities.  It’s more of the same, with better technology.  The internet is literate, not post-literate (images and words are similar things anyway - they are symbols).  People who engage in internet forums are joining the chattering classes and participating in the mental processes of civilization.  This used to be only for an exclusive elite; now a schoolkid or a homeless person can join in......Gordy

Are we there yet…..?  LMAO…..

“We can’t totally blame the media for our ignorance. As citizens, we have to take responsbility to diversify our life experiences in order to truly understand all of the implications of any issue.”.... RavenBurnes

Holy shit…..!!!!  We can’t… here I was…. ALL FIRED UP to “blame” the media.  Now I find…. it’s not their FAULT….. well, why didn’t they say that in the first place?  So then…, whose fault is it, that we are fed disinformation…..?

For those who find these posts “above their head”, I can translate:

Blither blather… blather blither.. and of course “everyone knows” blather…blather and blather….. and Chris Hedges is (according to them) filling your head with blither blather, blather…. and blither and DO NOT BE MISLED, vote against YOURSELF.

Did I get that right…?  Geez… I’m trying ya’ know….. but times…. they be tough.

You pissed them off now Chris…..  they be pulling out the “big guns”... sad isn’t it?

But wait, I feel compelled….. “the concept MORAL is much like literacy or love”.... huh?  LMAO!

Report this

By frank1569, August 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The future of newspapers might go the way of the Walmart/Clear Channel model - mergers and acquisitions and liquidations result in, say, 2 or 3 USA Today/NYTimes type national rags, all locals gone strictly web. And the reporting will be as in depth and hard-hitting as you’d find on ABC, CBS or NBC. But with more cartoons.

Report this

By RavenBurnes, August 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

I agree with the notion that a dualistic portrayal of any event, especially one masquerading as objectivity, is not responsible journalism. There are many overlapping sides to any one issue or story. An important question to silently ask oneself when reading any article is “how many voices are represented here?”  It’s O.K. if it’s only one; it just means you will need to seek out other media outlets or talk to different types of people in order to obtain a balanced, more truthful account of the issue. This is the real problem.  It takes courage on the part of the reading audience, not just the journalists. It takes courage, patience, and an open mind to seek out and listen to rational, dissenting opinions and think about them critically.

We can’t totally blame the media for our ignorance. As citizens, we have to take responsbility to diversify our life experiences in order to truly understand all of the implications of any issue.  If we wait for any one particular media outlet to educate us, we truly will be post-literate.

Report this

By Greetings, August 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

The major problem in getting honest news is not so much the individual reporter as it is the unbelievable powerful and impersonal Corporation.  Today the Corporation represents a very serious threat to our Democracy.  The Corporation determines to a great extent how we live our lives and how we vote. Somehow the Corporation should be limited in how it spends its money.  It should only be allowed to pay its employees a fair wage, which includes the CEO.  And to only fund operations, improvements or develop a better product or service. This would help remove the Corporate influences Mr. Hedges is reporting on and give the vote back to the people.  This would be a great step forward for Democracy.

Report this
Peacedragon's avatar

By Peacedragon, August 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

I once had a hispanic coworker who was on work release from the local jail. He also worked for another company which was holding back all the pay due their workers. Many of the workers were undocumented and so afraid to make a complaint. I thought our local newspaper might be interested. I’ll always remember the reply to my phone call.

“We don’t do investigative reporting.”

Report this

By CharlyAndy, August 14, 2009 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

The “news of assertion” is the news that elevates images created by language to a status of reality.  These images need have no relation whatever to truth, however.  When Ronald Reagan said that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” referring to the Nicaraguan “contras,” he perforce changed a simple investigation of criminal behavior on their part to a debate.  Once the President uttered those words, we were no longer dealing with bringing thugs to justice but engaging in a debate where both sides had equal moral standing.  The same phenomenon was repeated by his utterance about a (fictitious) dome over the US, Star Wars.  On the other hand, “news of verification” consists in statements which can be verified as true or false by the rules of evidence.

Report this

By samosamo, August 14, 2009 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

It will be a long time before legitimate local newspapers from the MSM will return and that could happen because when you will miss the written word the most is when the electricity goes out or you can’t find that most important piece of information you are so sure you read last year, then supposedly the desire and demand to have access to information should require a sort of rebirth of the newpaper, on a ‘less for profit’ motive.

But relying on only just one or the other sort of just leaves one hanging out in the wind.

Report this

By redspades, August 14, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

That is good to see Hedges commenting Jones. I see two champions of Truth walking together.

Report this

By Gordy, August 14, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

I strongly agree with his call for ‘moral autonomy’ in journalism but he maybe should have taken a sec to expand on:

“We are entering an age in which the electronic image, endowed with the ability to manufacture its own reality, has thrust us into a state of collective self-delusion. We are embarking on a frightening, post-literate world where we confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge.” 

Seems like hyperbole to me, as I don’t see how electronic images are a radically new species of disinformation.  In the medieval age we had the propaganda of King and God disseminated by voice, spear-point and later print.  People were just as enthralled then as now, and then as now there were those who questioned the status quo. 

People have anciently confused feeling with knowing, have anciently existed in collective self-delusion, have anciently lived in manufactured realities and taken symbols and images for realities.  It’s more of the same, with better technology.  The internet is literate, not post-literate (images and words are similar things anyway - they are symbols).  People who engage in internet forums are joining the chattering classes and participating in the mental processes of civilization.  This used to be only for an exclusive elite; now a schoolkid or a homeless person can join in. 

I see many sinister developments in our inane, tame, slogan-barking media but I cannot agree that it’s an unprecedented age of decline; that is a perennial trope that has been around for as long as human beings have had a sense of history - it’s a trope that even features somewhat in Hindu cosmology, which is thousands of years old.  If it was true we would have descended to new levels of Hell by now.  The truth is, it’s always a complex world and there’s this temptation presented to the limited human mind to neatly sum it up with a simplistic narrative (of ‘decline’ or ‘progress’).  I happen to think that history contains big cycles with little cycles within them. 

I think that Hedges has an appreciation of history’s cyclical nature however - I agree that a great collapse will probably provide the manure from which journalistic roses spring.

Report this

By phreedom, August 14, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Part 1

Hello Chris,

Human beings have few genetic differences, and that minute percentage involves mostly hair texture,  skin. eye & hair color & eye shape, and other extremely superficial facades. In measuring aspects, of just about anything else, the so called differences between human beings, well, such a small difference would be ignored out of hand. One who would focus on such infinitely small differences would be considered fatally unreliable or so acutely obsessed with trivia that this person’s conclusions and actions would pose materially irrational danger to everyone, at every moment, this person was taken seriously.

But we have a multiplier in modern culture. A multiplier that takes an infinitesimal derivation of human   similarities, useless appendages really,  and puffs it/them up by the power of a million or billion,  overwhelming what we have in common, and completely obscuring the fact of our interdependence. That multiplier is the human capacity for delusion, enabled by a monopolized media bent on asserting , even on its’ most divested state, that it can be “objective”, and “agenda-less”.

It may be even that the idea of control, through monopoly, has been relegated to the romantic & ineffectual, and the more complex mechanisms to “neuter” the media is the real culprit to focus on, today.

Ah, “news of assertion” versus “news of verification”, love that one.  I would like to point out Chris, that the concept and/or some measured state of “literacy” is as vague as the concept of “love” and any measure of its’ state. 

In a particular writing theory, it is held that all characters, all personalities in a story, factual or otherwise, are actually part of just one, and the craft in this system of writing is to involve the reader in a manner in which he/she is assembling & considering one giant personality. The imagination of the reader or audience is engaged in resolving the conflicts between each part of this seemingly dispersed and disconnected story or personality.

In the end, the quality of such a story would depend on the reader’s or audience’s ability to come away with sufficient satisfaction,  having assembled the aggregate story’s “personality traits” successfully, and/or within a certain personal resolve.

(part 2 on the way)

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA

Report this

By phreedom, August 14, 2009 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Part 2

If the end of Part 1 was at all clear?, well,  it seems that the media uses a system like this, to claim “objectivity” and then assert they are the gate keepers to “verified(thus truthful) information”.

This seems to be done by crafting an array of “stories”, “report-ings”, and issuing them to the public in a specific “sequence” and “timeliness”  so most would mistake stagnant neutrality as objective(even unbiased), verified and truthful, “agenda-less news making. Since to come away from a barrage of jagged fragments, promoted as a seemingly “balanced” array of independent news stories, well, coming away without a comfortable aggregate resolution, would be stressful and confusing, ultimately unprofitable, garnering little influence.

The media is less concerned about ending any form of human suffering, by getting actionable truth out to the public, and more concerned with creating an “effect” a “state of mind” in a reader, so to stay in the business of making money & gathering influence.

In this manner, I do worry about what traditional journalism and what is becoming known to be as non-traditional journalism, well, worry about what might remain in common between them.

I think Chris, that you might drop the “moral decline” stuff, since the concept, “moral” is much like “literacy” or “love”. Better to use “increase in human suffering”, since action to reduce human suffering and define it exactly, episodes of it, would be a less a subjective matter then waving the magic wand of “moral inclination” as an answer or remedy to how the media has failed us, and might improve its’ agenda and structure its’ institutions.

(part 3 on the way)

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA

Report this

By phreedom, August 14, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Part 3(finished)

Your opening to this piece, reads like a universal mantra, “I have spent most of my life locked in the embrace of two of the most sanctimonious institutions in America—the church and the press. They each bow down before their self-created holy creeds, never tire of trumpeting their supposed virtues, which they hold up as the highest good, and are blind to their glaring inadequacies and mounting irrelevance.” 

Right on brother!, where you place “church” or “press”, well most of us could replace those terms/institutions with a couple of our own. But “church” in the sense of any religion, and “press” in terms of any outlet of information, well, you really hit the head on that nail.

I have a similar take on my experience with and study of Buddhism(church) and the dangerously ignorant righteousness of inner city loyalties(press). America is potholed with sanctimonious institutions which have glaring inadequacies and mounting irrelevant-nesses. (Though I do maintain that I am a Buddhist of sorts, and you obviously maintain you are a post-reformation Christian of sorts.)

It may be, that untraditional journalism will need to emphasize, overtly, the “melting pot democracy, that all humanity is headed for some shade of colorful similarity” premise, rather than the ridiculous and untenable traditional journalistic position that “democracy is strengthened from promoting and entrenching differences, impossibly creating a rainbow of peace from stubborn differences”. 

True media either reduces human suffering or it does not, brings attention to it or does not. It is either divisive or unifying in its impetus. But you know, in whatever motive-mode it operates from, it will always be a purely subjective exercise.

The only reason it may be important to have a standard of “verification” is when human suffering may be increased in instances of “news” without such a standard. But verification cannot trump out sincere intentions to alleviate human suffering nor inadequate but effective methods to do the same. Though I kind of view the practice of “asserting news” as superficial and authoritarian, a mostly useless exercise, I would view “news of assertion” as “news of righteousness”.

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA

Report this

By Walter Iwaskiw, August 14, 2009 at 9:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is surprising that Chris Hedges chose not to cite perhaps the most glaring example of the New York Times’ commitment to “objective” journalism—Walter Duranty’s deceitful coverage of a man-made famine that killed millions in Soviet Ukraine during the 1930s.

Report this

By Folktruther, August 14, 2009 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

I agaree with Beerdoctor that this is Hedges at his best. However I disagree with Yooper Gal that he is a clear thinker.  His thinking is muddled by his identification with the mainstream religious and news tradition.

“Truth becomes, trhough objectivity, the primary vehicle of falsehood.”

Yes. The specialized fact, which is true, is used to give a misleading impression of the whole. To deceive.  This deceit in intrinsic to class society.  The interests of the powerful sharply diverge form the interests of the population which is oppressed by power.

But Hedges is against truthers representing the population against power.  He wants the whole truth reported, but he is muddled between the two classes of the rich and non-rich.  The classic delemma of the professional class.  Most of the reporters, Dionne is the best TD example, simply sell out to the ruling class.  Hedges has somehow retained much of his intellectual integrity, probably through identification with the progressive element of religious faith.

But its not good enough.  It may serve Hedeges but the ideology does not serve the Amerian people or people of the earth.  Truth is the visible outgrowth of morality.  The very conceptual language that conveys the truth is based on an ideological morality that, in the US, legitimates the ruling class.  That is, the American ideology is perverted and obscene.

therefore it must be rejected, which Hedges doesn’t and can’t do while still retaining mainstream credibility.  So he lives his life morally muddled because he doesn’t have the courage to think clearly and act decisively.

Report this

By StuartH, August 14, 2009 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

I agree, this is where Chris Hedges shines. 

Here is a website that is an example of what Hedges is talking about:

http://www.documentaryphotographs.com

This is a website for a photographer named Alan Pogue.  I cite this because he has been working both in and out of journalism for some 40 years.  He was forced into the category described by Hedges a long time ago by an establishment press that would not see issues not on a standard menu.  He has published work in various newspapers and magazines in the US and in other countries.  But he has pursued a vision that he gained in the reality of Vietnam, where he learned to see with his own eyes, as a medic.  Some of his best work is funded by organizations that champion causes, like the United Farmworkers.  So the website is significant because it turns out there are a whole constellation of linked websites representing this new way of getting information out, through interlinked activism.

I think the problem with objectivity is that it creates a too-simplistic dichotomy between merely seeing a fact and truly having a real human response that might more profoundly reveal the truth, and, having encountered it to champion a cause. 

Alan’s work has also not gotten very much response from Fine Art galleries because in the art world, objectivity as abstraction has taken on a high philosophical imperative, precisely because it asks no one to confront profound human moments that reveal injustice and the need to actually do something about it.  It is decoration for the walls of the corporation and cannot have a too-real reminder of the need for humanity if it is to sell.

I think newspapers killed themselves because they lost sight of the fact that the balance between reporting facts, documenting reality and being a human with a heart that can be passionate about injustice is an art.  McDonaldization of the process cut the heart out of it.  This was convenient from the pure profit and large scale corporate management structure of it.  But we see the irony.  To create big media, we killed journalism.

So it may be that journalists will have to seek this balance now, without the support of organizations that used to sustain the work of the legendary figures we admire so much from the past.

Meanwhile, in the web, we are learning a new literacy - a literacy of snark.  My hope is that the rising tide of snark that increasingly defines our times will not entirely drown the need for balanced and sustained efforts at truth seeking by people who believe in it enough to dedicate their lives to it.

Report this

By Ivan hentschel, August 14, 2009 at 6:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good reading. But some of this has been said long before (pre-ordained?) by James Fallows in “Breaking the News”, 1996, Random House: 13 years ago and right on the money. For a timely commentary and adjunct outlook, “The Death of Why?” , by Andrea Batista Schelsinger, 2009, Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., is the best book I have come across in many years.

Read on!

Report this
thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, August 14, 2009 at 6:12 am Link to this comment

This is Chris hedges at his very best.

Report this

By Yooper Gal, August 14, 2009 at 4:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges is one of the clearest thinkers, morally brave writers on the scene today. 

His support of the Palestinian people is greatly appreciated! 

I always cross post his articles to my activists friends and my facebook page.  Keep going Chris!

Report this

By Doug Wilson, August 14, 2009 at 4:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We’re in the “Age of Opinion”. I guess it started shortly after language. The difference now is high speed communication. Nutrition is probably the other prime factor. Combine a less than optimal brain with a bombardment of emotionalism and people just spin off their axis. There are solutions, always have been, but I doubt people are willing to accept them.

Report this
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.