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Laura MK
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 06:59 pm:   

Richard said it was cool to start a thread on our vanishing freedoms - so here it goes.

A good place to start might be the vanishing freedom of the press.

Technically, reporters for most major newspapers can write whatever they want, but do they?

Some morning, jump online and scan the lead stories in ten major national newspapers. Bets are on that 50-75% of the stories are exactly the same. They report the same "news", in the same tone and ultimately deliver the same messages.

What causes this? Is it laziness on the part of some journalists who simply rewrite the incoming wire services? Or is it because of an increasing corporate control of communications networks?

How similar is the radio and television news to the print news? I think the print news is vastly superior to that gleaned from aural or visual media sources. But radio and TV news are just subsets of the print news, so information homgeneity remains an issue between media types as well.

How far afield from a single market do you have to go to get a different perspective? Is there really much variance at the national level or must one go from region to region around the world to get real differences?

Are readers, listeners and viewers aware of this creeping similarity? Even if they knew, would they care? Or are most people just happy that they don't have to fiddle with the radio dial when they drive from Boston to New York or Washington D.C.? In other words, has convienience once again killed variety?

Consequences anyone?

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Laura MK
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 04:21 am:   

I just re-read my previous post and wanted to say that I intended to pose provocative questions, and that I left it in the realm of black and white issues - I figured that the shades of grey would emerge as the discussion progressed.

In truth, I was also really tired after working all day, spending hours in the car, mothering, cooking a great curry, dishes etc. :>)

To soften the bit about journalists, sometimes the pressure for ever-increasing corporate profits in an age of declining circulation has caused massive staff reductions, and these folks have to fill the same number of column inches with half the number of writers. There are also demographics of the reporters and press-corps to consider. . .

Attempts to discuss this often lead to people saying, "Yeah well 50% similarity - what's the problem? That's the most important news".

But is it really?

Are the endless details about this week's gruesome murder more important to the future of this country (in my case the US) or the world than the collapse of the Cancun talks?

This has long been, 'one of my issues', but it was brought home to me this past Spring with the emergence of SARS. Initially, I said, "Oh, possibly a new virus - cool! Its been a while since the last zoonotic jump. Not very transmissible, not particularly virulent . . . in short, not much to worry about". A hundred deaths or so later, airlines teetered on the verge of collapse, federal monies had to shore up flagging tourism sectors, and some economists started predicting gloom and doom for select durable industries. Furthermore, these deaths caused internal political struggles in China that led to the dismissal of several senior officials.

The media - and WHO's inability to deal effectively with it - was the major cause for the panic that spurred these economic and political effects - not the emerging virus.

As a historical reference point, smallpox killed 400 million people in the first 2/3 of the twentieth century, and the economies and political structures of the world barely blinked.

In this age of interconnectedness, when the media can basically make China's otherwise rockin' developing economy hiccup, people have to start questioning who decides what the most important news is and why.

OK, now I'll shut-up and let others have at it.
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Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 06:17 am:   

Hi Laura!

Did freedom of speech ever actually exist to have been lost? Ok, people can say whatever they want to on the basis that their brains are attached to their mouths, but they also have to accept the repercussions of voicing their opinions they don't like (in Chris' (-the-fab-I'm-so-enjoying-bkII-I've-slowed-down-to-make-it-last-longer!) case, theoretical semi-permenant exile (or better still a 17-book deal!!) in the face of hyperthetical conscription). Your example of sars probably demonstrates that. Even on a much smaller level, freedom of speech is constantly infringed by knowledge of, and a desire to avoid, the potential consequences.

With the media, maybe the situation is complicated further by the idea that they're not actually there to inform you about the "news" - Pratchett is quite interesting on this in The Truth. Isn't the purpose of a newspaper to sell copies of the paper - after all, they're not bothered if you don't read it and there are no real incentives to pay attention to the text. Once they've sold it, they're not that bothered - and ditto the radio and tv news; ratings are probably higher on their list of concerns than content (although obviously one will have an impact on the other). The fact that the paper will set a publication approach to various issues might also have an impact: if a journalist is anti-Israel and the paper is pro, the journalist could write their opinion - or something as close to the objective truth as possible - and have the editor totally rewrite it, or lose their job, because it doesn't fit the publication branding. Likewise what news is reported is probably determined more by what the papers think people will pay to hear about than what's actually going on. I suppose I'm suggesting that what the "news" services offer is what they think people want to know about and that perhaps associating it with freedom of speech or a desire to inform people about world-altering events could be a mistake.
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Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 07:10 am:   

*opens mouth to say just what fur did*

*shuts it again*

Um, couldn't have said it better myself :-) Very glad you're enjoying Skein tho.

Laura: do like your murder vs political opinion point. To riff off Noam Chomsky, the majority of stuff you hear about in the news is stuff you can't actually do anything about. We're all horrified about the Soham murders (here in the UK, anyhows - two young girls murdered in sleepy country village) but it's almost like: why give us a blow-by-blow account of the trial? What's the point? I suspect because the public are very interested in seeing the (alleged) killer getting his just desserts, and that strikes me as a little ghoulish. Of course he should be punished if he did it, but what good does it do to take up all that media space with something that not a one of us can do a thing about?

I suspect it's to do with the immediacy of the affair. Re: Soham, we don't have to make any effort to be involved, it's nice and black 'n' white (murder bad), and you can be entirely sure that your opinions jibe with the rest of the world. After all, who is going to say that killing two small children is a good thing, right? But when it comes to, say, war, things get complex because it's not straight murder. There's justifications involved, issues of dissassociation, all the stuff we've been talking about in the other thread. Confuses people a bit, and shoot me for my cynicism but I think a lot of people want to be told what to think and not offered a lot of options and asked to choose. I am pleased that at least we had a fairly good spread of dissenting opinions (and many in support) of the Iraq affair in the mainstream press, but it really got me when after 2 million protesters came out to march against the war and the govt ignored them and we went to war anyway, the media (tabloid media, anyway) seemed to immediately switch to a response which said: well, you all had a good shout about it, but now we've gone to war so stop moaning and support our boys, otherwise you're not patriots. And lo, the next anti-war march was about one-tenth the size or something. That's media power. *teeth grind*

And then you have politics, which IS something people can be mobilised to do something about, but the trouble with politics is that to the average person it's very, very boring. Things go so slowly that you can't follow them day to day, they make tiny incremental changes that only *add up* to a major change, and are often overturned years after they're announced without ever having been implemented (what happened to our 24 hour licensing laws? I swear that was Blair's sop to the student vote last election, and I've heard nothing since), so they're not interesting news to most people. Generally I tend to find out about laws, motions etc after they're passed, by which time I couldn't do anything if I wanted to.

This is a very long-winded way of reiterating what's been said above, however. Newspapers and programmes have to put in what will sell. It's like if you had a bookshop stuffed with dense works of formidable literature next door to one that sold exclusively Jeffrey Archer and Kathy Lette; you'd certainly get more wisdom out of the former, but I know which would do better business.
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Laura MK
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 07:34 am:   

I generally agree with you both, but I would love for some journalists to chime in about whether THEY think they are reporting important current events, or just writing to product specifications.

Also, the question of media "consumers" remains to be answered. Do these people consider themselves adequately informed about world events? How many people seek out multiple sources of information that offer different persepctives, or are they happy with the creeping similarity?

Does the homogenization lead people to be agnostic about current events, and thus easier to manipulate - drawing from your war protest example.

BTW: I've seen some really funny posters advertising the demos against our pow-wow next week.
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Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:23 am:   

The public gets what the public wants and THAT's infotainment, that's infotainment, yeahhhh (with apologies to Paul Weller). The problem, I think, is that as with most of what passes for life in the Western World news has become a lifestyle commodity - in order for people to swallow it easily, it has to be chopped up into nice little bite-sized chunks and washed down with plenty of window dressing (now there's a mangled metaphor - washed down with plenty of salad dressing? yyeurgh. with plenty of window cleaner, er-no. ahem) Ergo the decay of the average length of a news items on US TV to about fourteen seconds and the rise of "If it bleeds, it leads" programme making. Similarly, the infuriating multi-page features in supposedly intelligent UK broadsheet papers on which colour you just *have* to be wearing/painting your lips with/decorating the lounge with this season. I swear I saw one in the Guardian bylined: Can you keep to your principles and look good in leather? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh - the level of superficiality which the media establishment seems to assume is the norm in people's lives (and minds) is truly staggering - worse still, they may be right and I may be the only person left who doesn't much care what colour his sofa is as long as it's comfortable to sit on (well sit in front of, I never got out of that student/hippy thing). Sort of My Name is Legend for the Ikea generation. The last man immune to soft fabrics fights desperately against the zombies of lifestyle choice. (Well, okay they really made that movie already, it was called Fight Club - ed: I think we're getting off the point here, Richard...) And another thing - don't you just hate the way they make documentaries now with a here-for-the-hard-of-thinking recap every ten minutes because this stuff is being made for and sold to a US market where commercials wreck your concentration for fifteen minutes out of every fifty. I mean, there was a time I remember when Horizon just fucking *assumed* that an adult human might be able to concentrate for fifty unbroken minutes....ahem, we really *are* getting off the...yeah, right. Right.

This not so much dumbing as numbing down seems largely responsible for the decay of the free press, but I think it's been less a top-down corporate theft than a bottom up lack of attention from the public. Ray Bradbury pinpoints it beautifully in Fahrenheit 451 - he has a character recall the newspapers "dying like great paper moths" while the public in its infinite wisdom lets the 3d porn magazines survive. We willingly re-infantilise ourselves with mindless superficiality which seeps barely noticed from our entertainment into the more serious issue of news and the powers that be are delighted to take advantage of the fact. And unfortunately, it's a spiral - the more superficial you get, the harder it is to come back - and unrestrained market forces only reinforce the downspin like a dealer with a junkie. An example - if there is a modicum of restraint in the way UK advertising breaks up the programming, it's largely because the independent channels have to compete with a state funded BBC which has no advertising breaks at all. In Spain, by contrast, where the state channels use advertising as feverishly as everyone else, it's not unusual for a standard two hour movie to take up three and a half hours of programming. Not surprisingly, in Spanish culture TV occupies a position somewhere between elevator music and tickling yourself.

This then is the sea in which intelligent journalism has to swim - no surprise that it's on the point of drowning. The problem is that we've jumped directly from a rather prim, exclusive, we-know-what's-good-for-you-people type of media culture directly into the junk food, give-the-people-what-they-want approach, almost without transition. A bit like giving a seventeen year old boy a Ferrari for his birthday and telling him to go live a little. Whether we can educate people out of this gimme gimme gimme mindlessness in time I don't know - fur, you probably believe we can, right?
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Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:18 am:   

ye gods! I used to think I was a cynical and twisted pessimistic atheist and suddenly I've become an optimist?!

yes. Then again you probably do to - why else write about a problem if you don't think that, when people have it pointed out to them, they can change? Some people are irredemable, but for the most part people probably know that they *should* want to know what's good for them/the world/society (otherwise the news wouldn't be avalible at all, The Times/Independent/FT would vanish without trace and CNN and BBC news 24 would all be about soft furnishings and the new black . . . which I'm reliably informed is still black)and giving them a shove towards genuine interest shouldn't be that hard. Then again, that's individuals rather than an entire society - and even though individuals learn, I'm not sure people retain the lesson when they go back into a society that hasn't changed.

I'd love to plug literature as society changing though - coming back to the why write about it if you don't think it can change idea. If you can pursuade an individual to change on a one-on-one basis, a book has a shot at pursuading everyone who reads it to change (which is probably why nazi's et al are so keen to burn them) in a way the media can't. - Dickens (bleak house: plight and death of jo, christmas carol: tiny tim, great expectations and pip even) managed it at a point when politics and serious journalism had very little effect.

humm. I seem to be revoltingly idealistic about literature.

("what d'you need an author for?" "To save the city, of course!")

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Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   

What ARE the allegations against Prince Charles anyway?
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Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 01:37 pm:   

OK- just found out...
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 05:31 pm:   

Your rantings-er-I-mean writings on the subject came close to hitting the nail on the head. The media is simply "giving the public what it wants" to some extent. However, my perspective is that the media, with all of its built in synergies tries desperately to influence what the public wants. The "public" as a whole,seems to be an easily influence cow that responds to stimuli in a very predictable manner. Advertising wouldn't be cost effective if this were not the case.

If News department A can get away with broadcasting celebrity fluff instead of hard news, well, that only helps the bottom line because a) Celebrity Gossip columnists are much cheaper then an investigative reporting staff, and b) Celebrity gossip drives interest in other synergistic "products" like movies, TV shows, and CDs.

And since ALL of the major news departments in broadcast media are owned by similarly synergistic corporate interests, there is no "alternative hard hitting news" on a competing station because these synergistic monopolies all have the same bottom line and cross promotional agendas. And they control all the traditional editorial gateways.

"Broadcast-News-Journalism" is an oxymoron. It is too costly, and does not offer the return on investment that makes it attractive to stockholders. To be honest, Print journalism in the United States is not much better. It has been repeatedly shown that modern newspapers are often scooped on major political scandal, and consumer healthy/safety issues by unpaid college undergraduates, and an army of web-bloggers.

My apologizes to any journalists out there, but does anyone really think that Journalists are doing anything but spitting in the wind?

Does Dan Rather, or any other High Profile TV news anchor go to bed with a feeling of accomplishment? Do they think "I've really done a good job of informing the public"? Or are they filled with self loathing? Or are they simply apathetic? It seems that the partisan cheerleads on the Fox news network probably sleep the best. They are definitely contributing to changing the world, and are having remarkable success in doing so. In their minds, it is change for the better, I suppose.

Television has made itself irrelevant in the delivery of actual news and information. Just as Radio in the united states has managed to make itself irrelevant in the distribution of new music. Who watches the news? Who listens to the radio? New generations are training themselves to ignore these things as the background noise that they have made themselves.

During this transition, of course, there will be plenty of people willing to take advantage of the situation for their own purposes. A significant majority of the voting public in the US still gets most of its information from traditional broadcast sources, but this will change. When it does, institutions will topple, lives will change, and revolution will ensue. Mostly because advertises will realize how little they are getting for their money, and send those dollars elsewhere.

Who even WATCHES TV anymore? I know more people that DON"T have cable/satelite/500 channels then I do that DO have those things. But they all have internet access of some sort. It will be a while before broadband internet is as ubiquitous as Cable TV/Satellite receivers... but the wasteland that the broadcast media will drive the market towards these services.

When you've been repeatedly lied and exploited by the by the talking heads on the television, eventually people will stop listening, and go elsewhere. There will always be a minority that like being lied to and exploited, but when things get bad enough, the majority of people will go elsewhere.

At least I hope so. And I hope the revolution comes quickly.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the internet is going to fuel a utopian revolution of public interest in what goes on around them. The public will remain the same bovine heard that they were before... but the lights that flash, trying to get their attention are fading away, and will be replaced by a new set of lights, the exact nature of which we don't really know yet. Will celebrity web-bloggers become the News-Anchors of the next Millennium (What is the difference between Matt Drudge, and Spider Jerusalem, except for the agenda?)? Thatís one possibility, I suppose

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Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 10:32 am:   

Yeah, it was a bit of a rant, now I look back. Very stream of consciousness. Don't usually do that, don't know what came over me :-)

You got me bang to rights, fur - I think there is hope for change, tho' only in tiny tiny increments - it's not so much that a single book changes your way of seeing things (tho' I think I could claim that a couple of Anthony Burgess novels actually did that to me in my teens) - more that hundreds and hundreds of books together, and I suppose art in general, can create a non-specific cultural undercurrent by which people are swayed. I remember David Blunkett, back before he turned into the hypocritical old fascist he is now, saying in an interview that belief in social change for the better is a belief in a process like erosion. Alone, we're like drips of water on a stone - individually, our efforts amount to next to nothing, but given time and enough united contributions, the stone is worn away. Nice image, eh? A bit depressing for the male ego, but then what in real life isn't?

Jeremy - I like your ideas on blog anchors and 21st century weblife a lot - there's a novel in there somewhere.
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Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 12:50 am:   

humm. yeah, making stalagtites would have been a much more encouraging image - building your aspirations from the destruction of your old predjudices. Does make morality sound like a giant lego kit though.

Chris (sorry about stealing your opinions): re: politics, read the Daily Mail. Horrible paper in most respects, really good on politics/political debates as they're happenening. The broadsheets make it dulness personified, and the reporters tend to fall asleep half way through anyway.
Agree with you entirely that most people want to be told what to think - very depressing when you think that the sun therefore controls over a third of the votes in the country. But then democracy does seem to be rule by the opinonless - and the fact that we're an elected oligarchy becomes increasingly obvious when blair et al demonstrate they can do whatever they want regardless of the opinion of the sun. Maybe it comes back down to basic concepts of what's *right* and *wrong* again, and the 'public' just applies a black and white understanding to each situation - which might well explain the confusion about Iraq. killing people: bad. liberating them from a tyrant: good. Invading a country for oil reserves: bad. bringing peace to the middle east: good. bombing an entire country to the ground: bad. catching and punishing terrorists: good. humanitarian disaster: bad. Given that it can't be easily resolved (ok two million is a huge protest, but that means another six million people in london alone stayed at home and did nothing) maybe the only solution for the papers was ultimatley to say - now we are at war, support it. I don't think democracy can ever work in relation to detailed or complicated situations.
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Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 01:50 am:   

Aiee! The Daily Mail is the worst of them all. My parents used to buy it until their children rebelled because they would invariably devote the first seven pages to what dress Diana was wearing that day, or whether Prince Charles was a suitable future monarch etc etc and then follow on page eight with how a hundred thousand died in an earthquake and it was somehow Labour's fault. It was worse even than the Sun: at least there the jingoism was blatant; in the Mail it was insidious. That said, haven't read it for ten years so what do I know?

Re: the protest. You've probably all seen this before but I love this quote:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg trials
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Laura MK
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 04:06 am:   

Child of a representative democracy chiming in here:

Fur, it sounds to me like democracy did work in the situation you described. Of course, it could have been an unrelated co-incidence, but 2M people is less than a 1/3 of London's population, and a fraction of the population of the country as a whole.

The key to making democracy work is enfranchisement. If people don't feel represented, they don't participate, and a downward spiral of minority rules ensues.

Chris, I love the Goering quote - very appropriate for a thread about propaganda and manipulation of public opinion. Scary tho, no?

I want to point out however, that you shouldn't assume that most people are like you - i.e. that they don't watch T.V. and read the tabloids.

We all have a tendency to surround ourselves with people who are similar to ourselves - at least to some degree. More often than not, this elected similarity in our acquaintences leads us to make some very hefty assumptions about what people outside of our circles are like. It takes a brave man or woman with a lot of humility to question his or her fundamental assumptions.
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Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 05:16 am:   

Fair point, and you're right. I am fully aware that I (and I guess everyone else posting here) am in a minority in that we have the wherewithal to question what we are told. I do watch TV (not a lot of it though) and read the odd tabloid, it's just that I don't believe what they tell me at face value. In my case, the cynicism comes from the utter powerlessness I feel to do anything about it. Hey, given the choice, I'd rather be happy and ignorant.

The march is a case in point. Yes, two million people *marched*, but in opinion polls I seem to remember the majority didn't want to go to war. If we had all *voted* on it, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have joined the fight. I felt strongly as anyone about it, but I didn't go on that march because sadly I didn't think it would do any good. And it didn't. I think there were a lot of people who thought that way, though not necessarily for the same reasons (they feel politically emasculated). A lot of people I knew couldn't march because they were at work, or they lived too far from any major march site. I know the arguments to all this: it's easy to be cynical, if you don't like the system try and change it etc, but it's like the conversation we were having re: empathy fatigue and war victims. After you see it happen enough times, it's hard to care.

I'm not intending to force my opinions on anyone, re: Iraq or anything else, nor am I assuming everyone feels the same as me; but if I qualified every opinion with 'this is only my opinion, mind, you're free to disagree, in fact you probably do, and that's fine etc' I'd never get anywhere :-)
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Laura MK
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 07:16 am:   

Chris I agree with most of what you say except the bit about polls.

To me, opinion polls are just another tool that propagandists use to CREATE public opinion.

Polls usually focus on small groups of carefully selected people that pollsters have prescreened for demographic indicators (i.e. what their opinions are likely to be given their ethnicity, socioeconomic and educational profiles etc).
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Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 01:07 pm:   

"To me, opinion polls are just another tool that propagandists use to CREATE public opinion."

Dead right. But ditto for the carefully massaged media coverage of the Iraq situation in the run up to the war. I think it's been pretty clearly demonstrated that a number of lies were fed to the press on both sides of the Atlantic (45 minute threat anyone? Central African Uranium?) in order to justify the coalition invasion. And now, a similarly useful deafening media silence seems to be descending on the subject of Weapons of Mass Destruction (remember them, anybody?).

Thus we end up with a situation in which a young US soldier is quoted as saying that he's looking forward to the invasion of Iraq so he can get some payback for 9/11 (sic). I understand that large swathes of US citizens questioned at the time (OK, Laura, it's true, in an opinion poll :-) ) were similarly under the impression that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attack on the twin towers. And certainly I spoke to British people who seemed to think that Al Qaeda were operating out of Iraq.

Under those circumstances, representative democracy starts to sound a bit like a joke - representative of what? The ignorance and prejudice fostered by a rightwing media machine? Like Chris, I think that there was a huge weight of invisible opinion against the war both here and in the US - and I think that if we'd been told anything approaching the truth, that opposition would have been sufficient to bring down the Blair government and quite possibly the Bush administration too.
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Laura MK
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 03:15 pm:   


Although I agree with your basic points, I simply do not believe a little veritas would have fomented revolution in the UK or the US.

Most people simply don't care enough for long enough periods of time to sustain an objection - so forget about a revolt.

Politics has come to have all the permanence of a used kleenex (tissue), as comfortable people covet their neighbors luxury goods and become increasingly fearful of "strangers".

People will continue to vote their pocketbooks as long as they remain comfortable.

Let each one of us ask ourselves whether we would rather complete the next assignment at work (or write the next book) to secure a certain level of economic comfort, or whether we would rather organize a protest or a revolutionary cell over the half-truths and outright lies that were just levied on our populaces. . .

"Sto dela?" ["What is to be done?"]

The modern answer is, "nothing".
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Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 04:35 pm:   

Laura - didn't mean a revolution as such - simply a huge vote of no confidence which would have forced the British government into crisis, thus into a referendum/election which might in turn have forced Blair to step down in favour of a new leaderhsip who might have put the brakes on re Iraq.

I don't know enough about US political process to say whether something parallel could have happened to Bush.

There's some truth in the pocketbook argument - but in the UK at least, I think the bulk of the educated middle class have had a bellyful of "Greed is Good" - the Blair government was elected on a wave of liberal goodwill after 20 odd years of Thatcherite bullshit, was re-elected with slightly tarnished but continued hope and even now that the honeymoon is well and truly over, most people I speak to still think more taxes for better services and a more equitable society is a reasonable equation - those who don't tend in my experience to be the ones who believe what the tabloid media machine feeds them.

I know that in the US this concept of the equitable society has a far harder time taking hold in the face of American Dream/rugged individualist rhetoric, but liberal America still has to be out there somewhere, albeit licking its wounds. This messageboard alone has been re-assuring in its display of intelligent liberal American opinion (something that, again, the global media machine takes great care not to show us)
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Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 12:09 am:   

Laura - do I really get to secure my economic comfort with the next job I do at work?! Where did that filing go?

Chris: the mail is still just like that (Aiee indeed), but the bottom half of page 25 or so usually has something about current political debate --like foundation hospitals (which have vanished from the news now the sports minister has lost his seats and come back from oz)

re: massaged headlines leading up to Iraq. Isn't it odd that they did though? Who decided that war would be easier to accept if Hussein was pitched as a *genuine* threat to our country (and apart from our attacking him, I'm not sure why he was a threat to us)rather than a monster with an appalling human rights record and regime of really unpleasant forms of oppression? It just makes me wonder if we'd all be in favour of war if they'd been a more coherent media campaign in favour of it - which might prove to be a reasonable defence of the freedom of speech of the media. Presumably both governments still know something we dont - about the arms we've been selling that whole area for years.

Isn't the question itself a key element of the poll? Do you want to go to war with Iraq will probably get one answer, while do you want to save hundreds of thousands of people from the brutal rule of a mad dictator (not in this case Blair and the labour party) and bump our economy along a bit will get another. whatever your demographic, it might prove tough to say yes to the first and no to the second if you believe the questions.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 01:22 am:   

Check out the quote from William L Shirer on BFPO http://freespace.virgin.net/n.asher

Does anyone ever learn from history?
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Posted on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 07:13 pm:   


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