Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Intermediary journalism and disdain for television viewers

Jerry Stratton, January 9, 2015

Mohammed guest edits Charlie Hebdo: Mohammed guest-edits Charlie Hebdo’s Charia Hebdo issue in 2011, with Jyllands-Postern’s Mohammed/bomb cartoon from 2005.; Mohammed cartoons

Mohammed guest-edits Charia Hebdo.

In Men Without Chests: How C.S. Lewis Predicted Charlie Hebdo Censorship, Sean Davis reports on why CNN refused to show the Charlie Hebdo images:

…how did CNN justify its ban on pictures? It said it was necessary because “[verbal descriptions] are key to understanding the nature of the attack on the magazine and the tension between free expression and respect for religion.”

A TV executive with with an allegedly functioning brain actually wrote that the key — not a key, but the key — to understanding a murderous attack over cartoon images is to…only use spoken words to describe the images, rather than, oh, I don’t know, show the actual images.

Journalists have been afraid that television would render their interpretations pointless since they first started moving from print and radio into television news. I’m currently slogging through Murrow: His Life and Times, and have just now entered the point where Murrow gets into television. Biography A.M. Spearer writes that Murrow worried about “editorial control”. In print,

“editorial judgement has been largely pictorial… most news is made up of what happens in mens [sic] minds as reflected in what comes out of their mouths. And how do you put that in pictures?”

How do you put what happens in men’s minds in pictures? Sometimes I wonder if this is why the left derides television as low-brow: because the default in television is to show rather than tell, to show the viewer directly what is happening rather than tell the viewer the journalist’s interpretation of what was in men’s minds.

In order to get the right interpretation out on television, journalists need to blatantly lie; they need to edit and splice together audio to turn a Zimmerman into a racist; they need to photocopy computer printouts a hundred times to fake an ancient document.

And this is also why the concept of journalist-as-expert is so important to the left: the journalist needs to be trusted as an expert on every topic they report on, so that blatant lies go unquestioned.

They don’t want to be reporters; they don’t want to report the news. They want to be intermediaries between the news and the public, interpreting the unseen. But that’s hard to do when the unseen is displayed on a 40-inch television to be interpreted directly.

In response to Confirmation journalism and the death penalty: Iterative journalism is like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland: “Sentence first, verdict after.” The Elements of Journalism praises David Protess’s project that railroaded a mentally disabled man into prison for fourteen years, because it served their bias.

  1. <- Hype positives
  2. Hebdo award ->