HEADLINES AND SOUND BITES

A long-time friend and former head of Navy Public Affairs who knows the American media as well as anyone, forwarded this interesting little vignette - an e-mail message between two relatives, one of whom was in the middle of the New Orleans disaster.

FIRST PERSON REPORT FROM LOUISIANA

Two cousins, one who lives near New Orleans in Houma, LA, have been corresponding since he got back on line. Here is his interesting report on the devastating situation there:

Sep 4, 2005 - Well Ray, I hate to say this, but the ones that are complaining right now are mostly the ones that were dependent on the government before the storm! Know what I mean? We are right here in the middle of things. We see who showed up and how many. Our federal and local governments were here on day one! Maybe there wasn't quite enough help at first, but how in the world could anyone know what would be needed?

Believe me, the media is worse right now than they were with Iraq. Trust me. Yes there is some looting, yes there are bad things going on, but that happened with 911, it happens with earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., not just here for a hurricane.

A good share of the info the media gets hold on and builds on, then broadcasts, are blown out of shape. For example - there was a report about the Super Dome being on fire. It was broadcast on every channel. Wasn't true! It was in a dumpster OUTSIDE OF THE DOME. The fire was put out right away.

Don't get me wrong, it's horrible for New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. And, there is a negative element in every situation. But, Audrey's sister, for example, in an area that nobody can get to, that has no power, water, sewer or ANYTHING ELSE, is meeting a FEMA truck every day and getting meals and water! Our government IS ON THE JOB, BIG TIME!

You wouldn't believe the WONDERFUL stories out there. We actually see them all around us. Where is the media?

They don't tell of the private folks with their personal boats going up and down the bayous getting folks out to safety.

They don't tell of neighbors helping neighbors, etc.

But, if an ex-mayor of New Orleans says it's a “racial thing,” boy-oh-boy, the media is right there! (That particular ex-mayor is under investigation, big time, since his reign as mayor.)

The above item is a small, but telling incident that showcases most American mainstream news media as generally negative and single- minded. It seems they are more interested in sensationalism than balanced reporting.

Based on my own knowledge and experience in the media realm, I have become increasingly concerned about the gradual, subtle transition over the years from responsible journalism of stating facts and letting the reader or listener decide… to… editorializing the news for the publisher's aims and purposes. Today, one must delve deeper than headlines and sound bites to discover any truth buried below - if it is there at all. Jug.