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Unread 09-04-2005, 12:47 PM
sciguy125 sciguy125 is offline
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Information from the Mass Media

While watching the CNN coverage of the latest disaster to hit the world, I've found myself becoming very irritated with what is being presented. They always talk to this expert or that expert. Bush gives his little speech about the federal government giving more support. Victims complain about the slow response for aid. Reporters show the horrible conditions that victims have to cope with. This guy thinks this should have happened, that guy wanted something else to happen. Well, you know what? I donít care.

I donít care what some FEMA administrator has to say. I donít care what the Secretary of Homeland Security has to say. I donít care what Bush has to say. I donít care if help should have been there sooner. I donít care that the engineers say itíll take 80 days to drain New Orleans. I donít care that some congressman doesnít want to rebuild New Orleans. I donít care that some other guy wanted money to upgrade the levees to prevent this disaster. And at this moment in time, I especially donít care what the victims have to say.

Well, what do I care about then? I want to know what is happening, not what should have happened. I want straight information about the situation. Nearly everything Iíve seen so far is about someoneís opinion. I donít care what these guys think right now. I want information so that I can figure out what I think.

Of highest controversy right now is the supposedly slow mobilization of aid. Many are saying that help should have and could have been there faster. What I have yet to see is any solid evidence proving or disproving this notion. I understand that a few days is a long time to way under those conditions. However, I also understand that it takes time to mobilize large armies of rescue workers. Do we have anything to compare this situation to? Have there been any disasters in recent history of this magnitude that would have let us see what was coming and help us prepare for this? How many aid workers have been dispatched to the area? How long does it usually take to mobilize that many people? Were these people even trained for this situation such that they can work in a timely manner? How long ahead of time were they starting to mobilize?

There was some other guy, I believe it was some congressman, who made a stink about Bush cutting back funding to upgrade the levee system in New Orleans. Supposedly, the system in place was only strong enough for a category 3 hurricane. How often does a category 4 hit the area? Does it warrant the extra money needed for the upgrade? If the levees were upgraded, were the buildings strong enough for it? If the city didnít flood, how much damage would have been done anyway? If this upgrade did happen, might we now be complaining that thereís not enough money to go toward helping the victims?

The information coming out of the media has been predigested. Someone has already analyzed it and formed an opinion. But I donít care what they have to say right now. I want to form my own opinion before my mind is tainted by someone who may or may not know what theyíre talking about. I donít want to sound unsympathetic, but the victims are the worst place to get information from right now. Theyíve been hit by this disaster that has destroyed their lives. Can they really be trusted to make logical, unemotional, unbiased statements?

It seems that this problem with the media has been getting worse. We now have the technology to talk to people live from around the globe. The media has been taking advantage of this to talk to everyone related to the event being covered. But with this, we are straying away from straight facts. Instead of getting a number of how many people have died, we now get a description of the conditions under which ďmanyĒ people have died.

While I do want to call on the media to change their ways, I feel that my call would go unanswered. So, I would instead like to make a plea to the people listening to the media. Be careful of what you see and hear. What is given to you might not be the whole truth and may not be the truth at all. Donít believe what someone tells you just because they are an ďexpertĒ or because they are there living the situation. Find the answers to whatever questions you may have and donít simply rely on the questions and answers others have. You need to decide what is happening before you evaluate the opinions of others. If you work the other way around, you might miss the truth in the cloud of tainted facts.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 01:04 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

I say this in the best way I possibly can, If you want to have the true hard facts about what is going on down there go down there your self and help out.
I have 4 people from my Fire houses Swift water rescue team down there right now who are calling us with updates and so far what they have been saying is close to what the media is saying.
Of course things are going to be tainted by the media so more people will watch there coverage rather then any of the other 100 news stations covering the Gulf Coast 24 hours a day.

It is sad to see that the media has really turned someone cold to the fact that people are down there pleading for help the victims that you don't care to hear from are the ones who would be the best source of information on what is needed and what should have been done.
Once again I say all of this is no disrespect or anything like that, this is just my 2 cents
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Unread 09-04-2005, 01:35 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Phil-

All I can say is that your not alone. Many people have the same gripes with the media as you do.

I tried watching the major news networks for a time. It was just so frustrating. I lost it when FOX did a whole half hour segment on who was to blame that devolved into a bunch of 'adults' shouting at each other. And the host just egged them on.

NPR and the BBC are better. They still have some of the 'update on the hour, every hour' mentality. Besides thats, I recognize a lot of those voices. They're the same one's I've been hearing my whole life. Thats a little comfort, which is all I ask these days.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 03:01 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

I too am frustrated with the mass media in just about everyway stated above.
The best way I think to really understand what these people are going through my mother and little brother and sister included is to live through something like this yourself. Now I know that hurricanes in the past do not compare but in alot of ways smaller hurricanes give the same effect. In my many years living in Mississippi I know what it is like to live without power, clean water and sometimes food. It is very hard to imagine what it is like until you live through it yourself. I have seen familes mine included get frustrated over when relief efforts are comming to them, waiting to get your next meal, finding clean water to drink, or even finding water to flush the toliet, peoples lives have been torn to pieces and in my opinon have every reason in the world to be upset. And in also living through many hurricanes I have seen the light at the end of the dark cold tunnel, of people rebuilding their lives and getting back to normal, it takes months of effort, money and alot of help from others.

Just my $0.02
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Unread 09-04-2005, 03:33 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Quote:
Well, what do I care about then? I want to know what is happening, not what should have happened. I want straight information about the situation. Nearly everything Iíve seen so far is about someoneís opinion. I donít care what these guys think right now. I want information so that I can figure out what I think.
Ehhhh.... I completely disagree with you. Every time I turned on the news it was about the crime and anarchy that was occuring. I got sick and tired of watching it that I just turned it off.
Quote:
I tried watching the major news networks for a time. It was just so frustrating. I lost it when FOX did a whole half hour segment on who was to blame that devolved into a bunch of 'adults' shouting at each other. And the host just egged them on.
Actually, Fox has one of the best news shows about the media. Fox News Watch has to be one of the most fair and balanced shows about the media out there.
Quote:
It seems that this problem with the media has been getting worse. We now have the technology to talk to people live from around the globe. The media has been taking advantage of this to talk to everyone related to the event being covered. But with this, we are straying away from straight facts. Instead of getting a number of how many people have died, we now get a description of the conditions under which ďmanyĒ people have died.
Yet again... I remember one network reported the crime statistics for the disaster area. The death toll is something that I believe is unobtainable at this moment.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 04:22 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

As a participant in the World Wide Web, you can escape the major news media pabulum! There are online news sources, "blogs," and other means of getting information--the Internet allows such firsthand reports as Kyle mentions. (Of course, the possibility of bogus reports has increased along with the "individualization" of Internet reporting.) Everyone has some bias, of course, but using a variety of sources will expose you to different biases, or at least the biases you prefer. If you look around and ask people where they get their Internet news, you might find sites that present more facts and less opinion.

I believe that the root problem of many people in the news media is similar to the attitude experienced to some degree by everyone: "I am #1. My opinion counts. I'm right, at least most of the time, and you haven't proven I'm wrong, so I'll do the talking while you'll do the listening." The difference between us and them is that they've convinced the broadcast networks that they're wonderful enough to go on the air and tell the rest of us what to think.

Another problem, at least with broadcast media, is that their #1 "sin" is "dead" air. Something has to be stirring over the airwaves every second of every minute of every (keep inserting time units here). The book of Proverbs says, "When words are many, sin is not absent." In other words, if you keep blabbing long enough, you WILL say something you shouldn't.

Which, sooner or later, is what they do.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 04:24 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Hey there Phil,

Well I find this thread particularly interesting for one reason imparticular. I am currently attending college majoring in broadcast journalism, aka I'm either going to be a newsanchor or a producer in a newsroom.

Why are they doing this emotionally? Because that's what this situation calls for. They aren't giving you straight facts because they don't have them. They have no clue how many people are dead. At all. Don't believe me? Click on this (please don't click if you are exceptionally emotional about this issue, I almost started crying when I saw it). Phil, right now all they have is what those people are going through. They don't have time to take numbers and facts, they're too busy trying to save people from dehydration, starvation, and getting shot on the streets by looters who have stolen guns from local stores and are shooting people for kicks.

You want to know why they're getting the emotional part of this? Because when people see other people in need, hear their stories and see such detrimental, biased images, they're going to give more money and support than if the news media throws a bunch of numbers on the screen.

Yes, it stinks that there aren't straight facts out there, but the fact is, it is not a straight news story, it is a human interest piece. Plain and simple. These people need help. The media has the power to get them said help. End of story.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 05:16 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth Sweet
Yes, it stinks that there aren't straight facts out there, but the fact is, it is not a straight news story, it is a human interest piece. Plain and simple. These people need help. The media has the power to get them said help. End of story.
I was going for a more general comment on the media. My feelings don't focus directly on the hurricane situation, this is just what drove me over the edge and got me to voice my opinion somewhere.

Take the war for example. People are complaining about their sons going to Iraq and getting killed. They're soldiers. They signed up to fight and, if called to, risk their lives. If they didn't want that, they shouldn't have joined the military. What bothers me is that the media likes to focus on the people griping about how their families are being torn apart. Or giving airtime to people bickering with each other about what we should be doing. While this does slightly interest me, it doesn't solve anything. I want to know why this is happening. Why did Bush decide that we should go in? Why have so many Americans died in this war?

The most important question you can ever ask is why. Unless you know why a situation is the way it is, you will never truly understand it. Any fixes you apply will only be patches. You need to understand the root of the problem to do something about it. If you hope to prevent it from happening again, you need to know why it happened in the first place.

To go back to the hurricane, why are we in this position? Why are people waiting days for rescue? Why were rescue worker being shot at? If we understand what is going on, we can figure out the best way to handle the situation and how to prevent it from happening again. Could levee upgrades stop this from happening again? Maybe we need to revamp our emergency procedures. Maybe it's the best we can do without going overboard with our paranoia. Should law enforcement go in first to calm things down before rescuers go in?

Listening to Senator X tell me what he wants to happen, or seeing Citizen Y looking for food and water doesn't help me understand what is going on. Being a FIRST forum, let's look at this as an engineering problem. Something has happened and we want to prevent it from happening again. If everybody gets in a big group and starts talking, we won't get anywhere. Everyone needs to take some time to analyze the situation, then discuss how we are going to handle things. If we never get the facts we need, however, we will never get our time to analyze. Instead, we'll be left to use whatever predigested, possibly tainted, possibly selective information that the media decides to feed us.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 05:29 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Quote:
Originally Posted by sciguy125
Being a FIRST forum, let's look at this as an engineering problem. Something has happened and we want to prevent it from happening again. If everybody gets in a big group and starts talking, we won't get anywhere. Everyone needs to take some time to analyze the situation, then discuss how we are going to handle things.
This is something that I totally agree with.
In my Fire engineering design and protection class we have had many discussions about how this disaster will affect building safety standards new ways to evacuate people and thousands of other things that will help to make places like the Gulf Coast safer.
On of the good few good things about all of this is it is a way for that area to start over new and with a different perspective.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 05:40 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Quote:
Originally Posted by sciguy125
I especially donít care what the victims have to say.
Phil,

The media caters to the needs and wants of it's audience. Most viewers do care about what the victims have to say. They want to hear their stories. They want to put a face to this tragedy, they want to see their emotions. As much as you may not want to hear/see these things, there are many people who are captivated by it. (As can be seen in the extreme ratings spike that CNN has received in the past week)

For example, I for one really could care less about the pets left behind in New Orleans, or what random celebrities think of the situation. But I understand that I'm in the minority when it comes to these things, so when the coverage switches to one these stories I exercise my right to change the channel.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 05:56 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

You say that we need to take the time to analyze the situation. If newscasters took the time to dig into every story to get to the "why" before airing it, they'd be out of business in a month. #1 rule of broadcast journalism: Get it out before your competitor. Another channel tells you about it first, and then you talk about it, someone who is channel switching says "oh, it's just that story again" and switches the channel before you get to talk about the analysis. There isn't time to figure out the why in news media. If you want the why, you have to go research it yourself, a television news show is there to give you whatever parts of the story can be figured out quickly. Typically, first-hand encounters of the situation are the quickest and most accurate way to recount the occurences.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 06:24 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth Sweet
You say that we need to take the time to analyze the situation. If newscasters took the time to dig into every story to get to the "why" before airing it, they'd be out of business in a month.
That's the idea. They give us the facts, we make our own decisions about what is going on. We can't figure out why something is happening if all we see is a couple bickering senators and a story about a mother who lost her son in Iraq. Take Google for instance. It doesn't have to think, it just have to give me unbiased information about where to find things. It doesn't have to tell me that it thinks website A is better than B. It can tell me which is the one I'm looking for, but I don't want it evaluating the sites for me.

If I am to accept your stance that they'd go out of business (which I do), then it goes back to another aspect of my problem with the media that I didn't really make clear the first time. Should the media be this way? Should they be around to entertain us with tragic gut-wrenching stories or should they be a source of information to let us know what is happening in the world?
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Unread 09-04-2005, 07:15 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

Here's the way I see it. Everyone has an opinion on something, even if people don't want them to. In this case, the media has lots of opinions on lots of things, and some people like the creator of this thread might not want them to. But, there's nothing you can do. They will always have their opinion/bias which I think they are entitled to. If you don't go with their flow, all you have to do is turn it off.
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Unread 09-04-2005, 07:27 PM
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

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Originally Posted by sanddrag
Here's the way I see it. ...
If you don't go with their flow, all you have to do is turn it off.
Respectfully, thats like saying that if you don't like the way doctors do something, just don't get medical care.

Some people do in fact do that. They usually go through a lot more pain and trouble then they should have to. Overall, we have pretty good doctors. Why don't we have good news reporters? Probably because its obvious when your doctor is incompetent, and not so obvious when your just being lied to.

The media has a job to do. It's an amazingly important job. They are being paid to do it. I am paying them to do it. Why should I not expect them to do it well? Access to the media has to be a basic right and aspect of any democracy. I shouldn't have to deny my self of reliable and factual news coverage because the owner of FOX news has a chip on his shoulder and it gets in the way of reporting whats happening.

I know nothing is going to change with out more people calling for it. I know that the internet is a promising, if still very young source of news. But after it all, Jim Leyher shouldn't be the only trustworthy news anchor left!

-Andy A.

edit: spelling, grammer, little runin with the word filter
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Unread 09-04-2005, 07:54 PM
sanddrag sanddrag is offline
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Re: Information from the Mass Media

All I was saying is that if you don't like something, you always have the option to just ignore it.

I don't like Chinese food or seafood, so I don't eat it. I don't like most cars, so I drive a truck. I didn't like the way one mechanic worked on my truck, so I won't be going back that shop. If I didn't like what was on a certain TV station, I would change the channel.

No one is forcing anyone to watch anything they don't want to. If you want to watch it, then you agree to listen to whatever comes out of the speakers and watch whatever comes out of the tube. If you don't agree to listen and don't like what you are watching, then you should turn on something else that does suit your fancy.
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