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Media / Journalism Page

Article One - A Vietnam-esk disconnected American public: Are any of us connected to the current Iraq and Afganistan wars at all?
Article Two - Why go to Iraq as a Journalist?

Article Three - TV and Radio Talk Shows: News or Blabber?

 (Scroll down for articles)

 Article One -
 A Vietnam-esk disconnected American public: 
 Are any of us connected to the current Iraq and Afganistan wars at all?
 future retrospect 
   It seems to me that in 75 years from now, American historians will probably lump The Gulf War in 1991 and our long presence, Somalia from 1992 to 1995, the War in Afghanistan started in 2001 after 9/11, and the current Iraq War started in 2003 as one event. Add in the reality that Somalia is now currently in the play book of Islamic domination, our episode there may also find itself connected in history between the two United States endeavors in Iraq. Those historians may even throw in Kosovo in 1999 considering its Muslim connections. The whole area and era is a "theater of war" as they used to say during World War II. All five military endeavors may find themselves together as one war in a history book in 75 years.    
   Between all five events, we Americans have suffered around 3000 soldiers dead. Add in the almost 3000 deaths from the attacks on September 11, 2001, and our loss doubles. There is aound 20,000 wounded American soldiers out there somewhere. The death toll of American civilians acting as private security is harder to identify. None-the-less, all these events slowly add up to a large impact on American society. 
 shopping mall patriots 
   Yet, if you stop at the local shopping mall, one would never know we are at war. I remember that some places in American acted that way during Vietnam even after 10 years of war. People go about their business. But, Americans should be cognizant that war events sneak up on a society. "Vietnam creep" it is sometimes called. There can be an incremental impact on a community, especially those that lose soldiers. Vietnam still haunts us and probably will for at least one more generation. We still argue about it as a nation during every national election.

the press did it 
   Depending on the rolling list (as if on a boat on a rough sea) of the day-to-day politics, people often seem to resent journalists over there now. The same resentment showed up in the Vietnam era. People still come out of the woodwork to blame the press for single handedly losing the Vietnam War. The five or so behemoth companies that own most of the media in America I feel may not be the best advocates of our soldiers and community effort. Most of their spokes people and anchor people seem to be millionaire egomaniacs.

 mad at the press? 
   Everyone seems mad at the press over Iraq. That's funny because everyone was mad and is still mad over the press during the American Vietnam War. People still come out of the woodwork to blame the outcome of our Vietnam War on the press. I've walked a mile or two in the rural and urban areas of Vietnam. I was in the military during the end of the war. I know the military equipment of the era. I know the mindset of the United States and its people of the era. I am not sure even three million soldiers (we had around half a million there in 1968) stationed there until 1995 could still have won that country. I worry about people who blame media for their ills. If we can be beaten by media and ink, how do we expect to really win a serious war in the field with guns? Are they saying we can't even handle bad press - what if we get shot at then with real bullets? In other words, I have my doubts that media has been our war problems. 
   I do however have a problem with the news delivery mechanism. There are five or so behemoth companies that run most of the media in America. They put forth millionaire commentators and anchor people, most who have never served a day in a war zone to give us our ration of the war on the television and on the radio. The line between pundit and anchor is so blurred one cannot dare to make a distinction. Are the nightly pundit shows news? Often, they interview each other. Thereby that interview is apparently somehow making their commentary newsworthy. Then, they have the gall to hawk each other's books. The line between news and commentary and entertainment is now totally blurred it seems.

is the media really liberal? 
   After hearing the media called liberal for decades, I always smile when I hear one of the millionaire commentators on prime-time television or talk radio make the claim. They of course work for one of the five big media conglomerates. Yet if pushed on the subject they will say, "well, I'm not media, I am an entertainer." The problem with that is, the big pundit television shows and the big talk radio shows seem to want to influence public policy. Yet, if pushed they will no doubt claim they are only bystanders. 
   Smarter people than me have noted that extreme liberal leftists and extreme conservative rightists are basically the same. They want to stomp on my freedoms often and hard, when given half a chance, and they both usually want me to pay cash via taxes to have my freedoms removed. They just get there from opposite directions. 
   The big media companies are just that - big businesses. One would think at first blush that they could not possibly be liberal leftists being immersed in conservative rightist business necessities. Yet, they may be so steeped in the far conservative right of the business world, they actually take on same restrictive nanny state characteristics as the liberal left. One could make the notation then that they do after all seem liberal in nature as we Americans might assign meaning to the word "liberal." But, Americans have been caught in the two-party paradigm so long they seem to be unable to distinguish that the two sides are more alike than different.

not so much for being liberal - maybe just plan inept 
   It seems that from my blue-collar perspective this notion that the media is the source of our war ills is the same mantra we dealt with during the Vietnam War. Yet I do have concerns about a media that seems obsessed with putting millionaires up to give us the news. I believe it's not so much that the liberals are in control of the media as that big media is so inept it is just plan poor presentation. It is big millionaire talking heads, talking down to me from their corporate lecterns in front of the microphone. "All hail the millionaire, omniscient talking heads." 

   The average guy seems too busy to be engaged in the war dynamics. Sociologists will have to argue about whether we are too busy or just too selfish. Yet, with a media system that is owned by a few, puts up millionaires as its spokespeople, helps cloud the nuances between right and left, it is no wonder the American people seem to tune it all out. 
 - by Bob Keith - June 24, 2006 -

 Article Two- Why go to Iraq as a Journalist?

 blue-collar media guy 
   As a blue-collar guy, I feel it is important to pay attention to the war events we are involved in. I have a bit more flexibility than those in the blue-collar world and those with kids and mortgages and illnesses. It is important to me to see what is going on in Iraq. Most working people and small media outlets can't muster up a media team to send to a war zone.    Does the blue-collar guy have an advocate in the distribution of war news? Not really. We have to take what is fed to us by the millionaire talking news head like a baby bird swallowing its mother's spit. But average-guy can't muster up time and money to go to war zones and dig up the real deal. 

 the ubiquitous wire services 
   Ever get tired of the anonymously or un-authored, non-source articles dished out to papers and Web sites by the big wire services? I have. The articles often have poor grammar, mis-spellings, no sources noted, and are usually unauthored. They seem Orwellian and remind me of media that used to come out of the old Soviet Union. I just never feel good about their analysis of the war in Iraq.

 war between the states 
   Wisconsin has lost over 60 soldiers over there to date and I suspect many are from humble back grounds. Those who gave their lives and those who give their time deserve someone's attention -someone other than a ubiquitous wire service or a behemoth media outlet. I heard somewhere only ten or so Wisconsin journalists have gone to Iraq since the war started.

 so again, why go to Iraq as a journalist? 
   My parents were decent farm people. We were actually kind of poor. They did the best they could with what they had to work with. But when it came to national politics they had to guess. Every sentence started with, "Well, they say," and, "Well, I suppose." Local media tried to speak for them with farm news and weather. The local paper ran agricultural news stories. Yet, on the national level no one spoke for then in the media. Forty years later, no one still speaks for the blue-collar guy in regards to the war. 
   I am older now and companies seem hesitant to hire an old guy with decades of blue collar experience that went back to college and presents himself now with a couple degrees. I have been trained in the art of emergency field medicine, criminal investigation, journalism, and writing. It is all going to waste in yet another blue-collar job that I am now biding my time at. It is in that spirit that I am making plans to travel to Iraq as an independent journalist.

 so let's do it 
   Since no one will hire me now anyway after a long marathon of trying to get educated as an old guy, I am using the time void and I am trying to get to Iraq as an independent journalist. I would like to take note of our sacrifice as a nation and as a community. Regardless of the nation's fickleness and society's seemingly day-to-day ignoring of the war, and the difficulty getting there as an independent journalist, I still hope to make the journey anyway.
 - by Bob
Keith, June 26, 2006 -

Article Three -TV and Radio Talk Shows: News or Blabber?

Every notice how the big millionaire radio and TV talk show hosts and their recycled pundits often accuse the media of being liberal?  Who the hell do they work for?  I don't think they are welders.  If called on the comment, they will assert how they are "just entertainers," and, "we are just analysts."  But the problem I have with this is that their multi-billion dollar companies and them, are trying to influence policy.     
   The nightly talking heads on dish and cable, and the daily radio hacks beat the mantra of how the media is so liberal.  I see that as a distraction. What is really the issue is these millionaire TV and radio hacks get most of their issues from the so called "liberal media."  They take stories right off the front pages of national papers and pontificate about the subjects ad nauseam. 
   Yet, the real tragedy is that they never seem to generate a story on their own.  They will however, take an off-beat lead like a missing college girl in a Caribbean island; or a husband and wife in Buckyucknuck, Iowa who have murdered one or the other of each other and dredge it out for us night after night, and day after day until we are numb.  Think of the hours wasted on that crap?  And remember, they did not generate the story to begin with.  They just take an unknown local tragedy and beat it into a national saga.  They did not create the hurricane, it just hit them between the eyes.
   Think of the hours they could really spend on doing vignettes and biographical portraits that could be done on our soldiers that have died since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been going on.  What were their hopes, dreams, and simple pleasure they found in life? But no.  The big media who uses millionaire mouth pieces to scold some other ubiquitous media out there liberal, would rather spend thousand of hours on a boring saga about a foolish college girl lost in the Caribbean. Yet, there is silence about the amazing lives of our fallen soldiers.  I don't think it is that the media is liberal. Rather, I think it is just inept and ignorant.    
 - by Bob Keith, July 1, 2006 -
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