December 18, 2011

Capricious and arbitrary journalism decisions

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:43 pm

New exhibit at Beat Museum
Michael Moore speaks to Occupy Oakland

Calling the new exhibit at the Beat Museum as our top selection for the top ten news stories of the year may seem to be an arbitrary and capricious example of poor journalism, but the same people who would get very upset at such a choice by a blogger on some liberal web sites, don’t seem to mind that Rupert Murdoch runs his journalism endeavors with a similar dysfunctional level of personal involvement in the editorial decision making.

How likely is it that any of Murdoch’s lackeys will say that one of the top ten news stories of 2011 is the fact that the integrity of America’s much vaunted Free Press has been compromised and that the Murdoch hacking scandal is Exhibit A on the list of evidence?

Time Magazine named “the Protester” as the Newsmaker of the Year. Will Murdoch concur or will he direct his subservient surfs to ignore reality and spin it with the absurd interpretation that: “It’s about time the liberal media acknowledged the achievements of the tea baggers!”?

During 2011, we heard one reporter on CBS radio news state that JEB Bush has his campaign headquarters in a hotel in Miami (where by a big co-inky-dink the Republicans will hold their Nominating convention). If that fact hasn’t been reported on Fox, is the withholding of that news evidence of an arbitrary and capricious example of poor journalism, or is it indicative of something more ominous?

At one point during 2011, this columnist/photographer was stopped dead in his tracks by a tableau in the lobby of the Shattuck Hotel in downtown Berkeley CA. There were three young men having breakfast together and that wasn’t remarkable in a town that provides a worthy rival for the UCLA baseball, basketball, and football teams. What was astounding was the visual of thee young guys ignoring each other and peering intently at their own laptop computers. We took a photograph of the scene that illustrates the paradoxical aspect of contemporary society whereby friends ostensibly feel more connected to the world by being isolated from each other.

The fact that the image is somewhere in among a vast number of digital files of frames taken with our Nikon Coolpix brings up the fact that now with computerized photography we can shoot the equivalent of several 36 exposure rolls of 35mm color film and not freak-out over the price of the material and subsequent development costs. The down side of the freedom to do an extensive amount of shooting at a news event is that there is a massive amount of boring clerk work for a photo librarian to be done.

The fact that a California housewife won a Pulitzer Prize in Photography for taking a photo of a highway accident, can be used to segue into another story from 2011 that will be ignored by Murdoch’s marauders: Citizen journalists will not (based on preliminary legal precedents being set in 2011) be accorded the same legal safeguards that are available to professional journalists carrying a Press Pass.

That, in turn, brings up another development in the journalism world that will be ignored by Murdoch’s wage-slaves: the increasing number of times when legitimate members of the press are treated like the protesters being rounded up.

That brings up yet another important but unlikely candidate for inclusion on the top ten stories lists: If, as we have been assured, protesters, who are arrested for trespassing, have committed a routine misdemeanor and will not have to worry about anything but a minor fine; why then are people now collecting funds to be used by arrested protesters facing expensive court proceedings?

Will Murdoch’s propagandists include stories about abuses by the privatized prison industry on their list of the year’s top news stories?

Will horrific prison conditions, as revealed by the events at Attica about forty years ago, become one of this year’s top ten stories or will the Project Censored group be the only ones drawing attention to obscure stories such as the one the Los Angeles Weekly ran recently denouncing the conditions in the L. A. County Jail for prisoners with handicaps?

Is the “Island of Trash,” caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan, which is slowly drifting towards the USA’s West Coast, going to have any radio active trash when it arrives? Why was fighting the recently ended War in Iraq during 2011 more important than spending money on efforts to minimize the “Island of Trash” threat?

Will any of Murdoch’s practitioners of “fair and balanced” journalism castigate the Jubba the Hut legislative style of Republican Politicians during 2011 or will they ignore the conservatives’ sit down strike and pretend that it’s all President Obama’s fault?

Recently storms on the West Coast have caused some trees in Sequoia National Park to fall down. Is it true that some well known conservative executive with ties to the lumber industry has paid to acquire the fallen timber and will use it to make gavels for various conservative judges around the USA?

Will the Oscar competition for the Best Picture of 2011 produce a heavy weight championship battle between Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg?

Will “No taxes; no mercy” (i.e. no taxes for the rich; no mercy for the poor) be the bumper sticker summary of future historians for the year 2011?

If we had gone to Occupy Oakland, Occupy San Francisco, and Occupy Cal events and taken some photos which would be appropriate for use with a Year-in-Review column, that would tend to indicate that our news value judgment was in synchronization with the editors of Time magazine and that we were only being facetious when we went to San Francisco on Friday December 16, 2011, to take a photo of their new exhibit to use as an illustration for our top ten news stories of the year column.

Wouldn’t that be a bit overboard even for a guy with an Irish-Apache heritage (and most likely related to Che Guevara) or would that be spot on?

Will the quote of the year be: “This is what a police state looks like!”?

The disk jockey should probably pick a song by Amy Winehouse or Lady Gaga as the one tune that will always evoke memories of 2011, but since he is a bit of an old foggy who is blissfully unaware that the Sixties are over, he will play us out with the Stones, “Satisfaction,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” (because they conjure up vivid memories of better years). We have to go see if we can get tickets for a revival of “Hair.” Have a “Beggar’s Banquet” type week.

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