Sunday, September 12, 2010

Antidote For Teh Crazy

I know, I know, 9/11 is over, at least for another year, but I'm not quite finished with it. My visit to Watching America this morning provided me with a pretty good analysis of just why I wasn't quite done with this secular Holy Day. It came in the form of an op-ed piece in Italy's La Stampa in which the saga of Rev. Jones, would-be Quran burner, is explored.

How can this obscure reverend in the mood for provocations become a global phenomenon, instead of being pitied by his countrymen? The answer fully involves the world of media that have turned him into a star, that besiege him for days with microphones, cameras, tape recorders and notebooks, and have placed around his trailer dozens of satellite dishes. In order not to miss anything, to revive as soon as possible every incendiary syllable and perhaps even the image of the final fire, that fire of holy books of Islam that would have the immediate effect of lighting up another plethora of idiots who are just waiting for this to happen, at all latitudes. ... [Emphasis added]


But Mario Calabresi, the author of the piece, goes further by examining just what the media could have and should have done with the story of an idiot. He considers the possibility of just ignoring the fool, but ultimately rejects it because while the mainstream media might have other stories worthier of coverage, the internet provides plenty of space for such stories without any of the checks that the mainstream media has to work under. Instead, he suggests that the media could have gone back to real journalism in its coverage:

One thing we could do: a road exists, but it doesn’t pass through censorship or silence — instead it requires the effort of returning every image with its true colors, replacing it into its context. We must do more journalism, not surrender to the avalanche of fake images or slogans.

All the newspapers in the world have talked about the "mosque at ground zero" and many in the world are outraged: Perhaps the effect would have been different if everyone had written that the prayer hall should be built three blocks from the site where the Twin Towers were, and that four blocks away another mosque (which nobody has ever dreamed to close) already exists.

We need to do quality journalism in order to lower the fever of sensationalism: It means that we need to look for data and statistics to give the due weight to our concerns, whether it is the number of crimes, the illegal immigrants, the number of people with swine flu or of mosques with a minaret (in Germany there are 206, in Italy three). It means that we need to give voice to those entitled to speak and not just to the ones who guarantee to make more noise or to put up a show.

To do journalism in this way is difficult, but it is the only road we have to save ourselves from the invasion of the false and the likely, to try to understand something in this global chaos.

From your lips, Mr. Calabresi, to the ears of every editor and executive producer in the world.



Post a Comment

<< Home