Thursday, May 31, 2007

Averting Change by Avoiding the Right Questions

Yesterday I found myself mustering some pretty strong rhetoric about the extent to which we are losing our right to talk about change because that right is being suppressed by the ways in which mass media purport to keep us informed. Any second thoughts I may have had about being too extreme were dismissed this morning by Henry Banta's piece for Nieman Watchdog. For those unfamiliar with the Nieman Watchdog site (one of the sites listed below on my "What I Read" list), the motto posted on their header is "Questions the press should ask." Mr. Banta took this motto seriously in his examination of just how flawed media reporting has been in accounting for the current price of gas (and his analysis did not waste any time over sheer blunders, such as the one just committed by KOTV). Mr. Banta is one of those lawyers who appreciates and honors the value of clear, straightforward, and compelling language. His clarity concentrates on the extent to which media coverage of the price of gas has been obfuscating the actual "story behind the story;" and he poses specific recommendations (with strong argumentative support) of the questions that media reporters should be asking when they interview any connected with the energy business. It does not take long to read his piece; and, once you have done so, your respect for just about anything to see in a newspaper or on television about the "price at the pump" will probably be seriously eroded (if any of it is left)!

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