Friday, March 24, 2006

Media Coverage and Fairness...

Pretty light day on the blogs today, but I did catch an update over at Michael Yon's Online Magazine and this peeked my interest since the topic has been volleyed around in the MSM and blogosphere this week. Before I go on, let me make one point clear: I do not want MSM outlets to curtail coverage of events in Iraq, Afghanistan, or hear at home. If a bomb goes off in a Baghdad cafe I want to know about it. If a citizen is going to be put to death for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan, I want to know about it (I wish someone would make this poor bastard watch just one episode of the 700 Club. Perhaps then he'd know that the grass ain't much greener). What I also want is fairness. I am one of those who strongly feels that we don't get that from our major news outlets. I read blogs. I read on-line news. In fact I'm a fiend for it, but the fact is that most Americans do not share this addiction. Despite decreases in dead tree newspaper readership, and flat ratings for network and cable news, most Americans get their news from these sources and they remain highly influential in shaping public opinion. I think improvement is long overdue. Reporting on Iraqi quality of life is a good place to start.

I have a list of things I, and I would assume everybody, would like to know about the quality of life and our progress in Iraq. A fairness litmus test if you will. Here's the preamble to the list: The human quality of life scale is obviously a relative thing. Ebert's review of "Brokeback Mountain" means nothing to a kid in Darfur who hasn't eaten in three days. A annual decrease in the frequency of bombs going off on Tel Aviv buses is a sign of security progress vs. a single bomb going off on ANY bus here in America for instance. In order to measure progress abroad it's important to use their benchmark, not ours. With that in mind, here's the list of things that I feel are worthy of coverage no matter what the facts are good or bad:

  1. What is the outage rate for commercial power for the ENTIRE country of Iraq before invasion to now? (note: During Saddam's reign, power was more stable in certain areas vs. others. Basically where ever Saddam was, the power grid was more stable)
  2. How many more Iraqi's have telephone service in there homes pre/post invasion and what restrictions are in place pre/post invasion?
  3. What is the availability of clean drinking water in the whole of the country pre/post invasion?
  4. How many schools are open to the entire general public (boys/girls, Sunni/Shia/Kurd)pre/post invasion?
  5. How many Iraqi's own cars pre/post invasion?
  6. How many miles of truly navigatable paved roads pre/post invasion?
  7. How many Iraqi's have television and internet access, and what restrictions are there pre/post invasion?
  8. What is the state of the Iraqi economy pre/post invasion?
  9. What is life like in the Kurdish North pre/post invasion (I've seen/heard little reported on these folks).

There are many more, but this is a start. Now, many will retort immediately that any/all this information is available to me right now. I simply have to research it, and that my friends is my point. Any of the nine topics listed above should NOT have to be researched at all. They should be found between pages one and four in any newspaper across this country, and story one through three on any TV news rundown. Updates on these topics should be juxtaposed against, NOT replaced, with what is already well covered in the news on Iraq. Why? Because it's fair. It simply allows for us to make better informed assessments of progress. I will tell you upfront that while I've heard both good and bad things regarding the topics on the list, they have been extremely scarce. So let's see if how well our major news outlets do in the coming months on covering any of the nine topics listed above. Anyone out there spot any of these things being featured no matter how remote let me know by commenting. Provide as much detail as you can.


At 11:00 AM, March 24, 2006, Blogger leo said...

you will never get fair reporting from the media as they want america to fail and always be looded uppon as the evil empire!

At 1:05 PM, March 24, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Well, that's one man's opinion.

Like you. I look for fair media news coverage. I watch BBC World News when I can, and as you well know, I check out CNN on-line quite a bit.

I never watch FOX, NBC, ABC, or CBS - ever.

At 1:42 PM, March 24, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Again, this is not a challenge or an idicitment of what IS currently being covered. Instability, war justification, White House policy, all the who know who's, are ALL fair game and amply covered wouldn't you say? It's about what's missing. There very well might be more "bad" news with these items, but I'd like to hear the details and updates. If thousands more Iraqis are indeed driving cars, connecting to media, etc... than at prewar levels I'd say that's pretty damn news worthy.

I should have included access to hospitals and healthcare on the list. Damn...


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