Friday, February 11, 2005
Kudos to the much-maligned Mainstream Media (MSM) for their remarkable restraint in reporting last month’s massacre of a Jersey City, NJ family. Unless you live on the east coast or get your news from Internet sources, you probably have no idea of what happened....Hype and hysteria have no place in the newsroom? That's funny!
Despite evidence the killings may have been something other than a burglary gone bad, despite years of distrust between the Muslim and Christian communities of Jersey City, and despite documented terror-related activities planned or executed in and around the town, the MSM took a collective step back and consciously chose not to hype what may have been just another New Jersey killing.
The MSM has not always occupied this journalistic high ground. Imagine if the family had been outspoken toward neighborhood crack dealers and pimps....
Why, then, have the MSM passed on the story and its relevant sidebars? One answer is that this may be the start of the return to old-fashioned journalism where reporters cover stories instead of creating them, and where hype and hysteria have no place in the newsroom.
Now for the CON side of the argument.
The media is always looking for a hook to hang a story on. They want to have a good guy and a bad guy for every story. This story has no hook. There is strong circumstantial evidence that Muslim Jihadists hacked into a Coptic Christian family's computer records, conned them into letting down their guard, and brutally tortured and murdered them in a manner that is the very embodiment of hatred and evil. But there are no suspects. Nobody has been collared. If the media presents the story as is then it tars every single Muslim as a possible bad guy.
Or that is the fear. What can be done?
The media can present the story without tarring every single Muslim as a possible bad guy. They can print profiles of the killers. They can print background on Jihadist concepts like Kital, Jihad, Taqiyya, Kaffir, Shirk, and Jahiliyya. They can go back into old cases and re-report them using their newly acquired understanding of the methods of Islamist Jihadis. They can report about local Mosques and the kinds of pamphlets they find in them, whether they are printed by Saudi Arabia or not, whether they are vile and hateful or not. They can start to report truthfully about the details of terrorist murders of hostages in Iraq. There are tons of things the media can report on, without either keeping a lid on the real details of the Armanious Murders or jumping to conclusions and whipping up mass hysteria against Muslims.
The media prefers to use famous and powerful people in the position of the bad guy. They look for stories that fit that mold.
The media prefers to use underdogs, the oppressed classes, as the good guy. A happy Christian family living in America is not an underdog, as the media sees it. They are the heart of America, and stories about people who represent the heart and soul of America are out-dated, cliched.
When a story doesn't fit the mold, when facts point to an underdog, one of the oppressed, as the bad guy, and someone who isn't an underdog as the good guy, then cognitive dissonance is the result. The media can't see the story. It doesn't fit their prejudices on how a story should be constructed.
This prejudice about the way stories should be constructed is the problem. The media needs to once again write stories about people who are the heart of America. The media needs to celebrate heroes, instead of searching for ways to cut them down to size. The media needs to tell more stories of triumph and celebration, and fewer stories of disappointment and betrayal.
This is true for two reasons.
- First, life consists of good and bad, and focus on only bad things is a false representation of reality. The media must not represent reality in a false way.
- Second, like it or not the media is entertainment. And the same story all the time is boring. And people want to have stories of success, of great victory won at a terrible cost.
Why can Sports celebrate goodness, courage, strength, and victory, while News tries to penetrate to the evil corporate heart of every story? Is it because News matters and Sports doesn't? Is it that the post-modernist habit of deconstruction has convinced News writers that cynicism is the narrow road to good writing?
Please, News writers, celebrate purity of spirit, vision, courage, strength, and triumph. Not every underdog is the good guy. Sometimes the underdog is the bad guy.
And if you can't, did you realize that Copts are Christians and have been ever since the Desert Fathers of Christianity in the 1st Century AD, or that Muslims conquered a completely Coptic Christian Egypt a thousand years later. If journalists realized that Coptic Christians are the original inhabitants of Egypt who have been subjected to genocidal oppression by a violent conqueror for a thousand years, that they are to Egypt as the Native American Tribes are to the USA, then, maybe then, they would change their tune.