The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pan Out

Michael Totten, one of the few honest reporters of events throughout the Middle Easy, has written a wonderful essay entitled, The Nut Job Media Circus, where he examines utter hypocracy and misleading sensationalism of the vast majority of media sources who report from the ME (and by extension everywhere else in the world). In discussing how media cameras and pictures do, in fact, lie, he quotes Lisa Goldman:
On Friday afternoon in Manar Square [in Gaza], for example, I ran into Ohad Hemo, an acquaintance who covers Palestinian affairs for Israel’s Channel 1 news. By then there was finally some media-worthy action. A few dozen Fatah-aligned fighters had shown up in the square, most traveling on the back of pick up trucks. They wore combat-style uniforms, although some wore street shoes instead of army boots. Their faces were covered in ski masks and they brandished weapons in what the Times called a “a show of force by Fatah.” That sounds very dramatic, of course, but the reality was not very impressive: again, I felt as though I were watching a parody of machismo that seemed a bit silly, if not comic.

Other than stare into the camera and pose, the fighters didn’t do anything at all. It was all pure theatre: I listened and watched as the various foreign television reporters positioned themselves in front of the masked gunmen and spoke seriously to the cameras about the rising tension in Ramallah, trying their best to make it sound as if they were in the middle of a war zone. But if their cameramen had panned out for a wider shot they would have shown crowds of mostly young men hanging around, eating snacks, buying cold drinks from vendors, and taking photos with their mobile phones. There was no sense of fear or menace at all. I even saw one photojournalist, who works for an American newspaper, giggling a bit as she aimed her camera at a masked fighter who was posing as if he were having his portrait painted, his eyes stonily focused on the horizon.

Totten continues:
I can think of no better evidence of journalism malpractice than the fact that the popularity, strength, and sheer malevolence of the region’s bad actors are both exaggerated and downplayed by the same media organizations.

There is no shortage of lunatics in the Middle East who blow up civilians with car bombs, kidnap journalists, hurl political opponents off skyscrapers, shoot rockets at foreign cities, and do everything in their power to exterminate racial and religious minorities. These people are very often portrayed as less extreme and dangerous than they really are.

When we get information from the media, we look at the world through a small portal that the media controls. The MSM tends to pan in, limiting what we see in an effort to force the facts to fit their preconceived bias. All of us have seen an intrepid reporter standing in from on a bombed building in Lebanon or Gaza. The building fills the entire background. The feeling, created intentionally, is one of utter devastation perpetrated by the Israeli oppressors against the innocents who live there. But pan out and we see a neighborhood in a war zone, with intact houses and apartments, people going about their daily business, eating, drinking, doing what people everywhere do.

Pan out and the "utter devastation" is no more. Pan out and the truth become apparent. Pan out and the story changes.

Each of us must pan out everytime we listen to the MSM report on any subject domestic or foreign. Panning out is an important element of critical thinking, and it's our only defense against a media that is increasingly violating the public trust and warping the truth to meet their own parochial interests and biases.