Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

May 30, 2004

More on Bias

Filed under: Media — Bunker @ 5:12 pm

In the last few days there have been numerous essays in the blogosphere and in more traditional web venues regarding media bias. I’ve written several times about this topic myself. Once, when I bemoaned the laziness of journalists who spend their days in hotels, then report from a rooftop, I got a response in the comments from Kevin Sites, who does freelance work around the world:

hey mike, before you take a broad brush about “cowardly journos” standing on top of 4 star hotel roofs rather than out in the thick of the shit–consider this: twenty-one journalists have died covering the war in iraq–including two cnn employees last night. can’t give you the number injured but it’s been plenty. also btwn 12-15 killed in afghanistan. friends and colleagues. maybe the bravest men and women you’ve never met. they go out without weapons, armed only with cameras and notepads, covering the news–so you can sit back in your armchair and develop your opinions. consider this one “not so lazy journo” trying to provide you with addl info so your opinions can be a bit more informed. soldiers aren’t the only ones making sacrifices out here. and btw, when this one ends you can be sure when the next one starts me and my colleagues will be there–well at least the ones who live through this one. Kevin Sites.

I wrote a follow-up, and now keep track of Kevin and his work. I still believe him to be a bit of a renegade, working on his own, and telling the stories of civilians caught up in a war zone. I have no doubt there are brave people doing the job, “armed only with cameras and notepads.” Yet the fact they carry no weapons actually makes them a little safer. The enemy looks upon them as tools.

I taught Honor & Ethics to freshmen and Military Theory to seniors at the Air Force Academy. I was also the Professional Ethics Advisor for one of the 40 cadet squadrons. That was a decade ago, but I doubt things have changed much in those years. I understand what is taught to military personnel, and what their superiors expect of them. The hair on the back of my neck bristles when I see something in the media that implies a lack of honor and integrity in the military. I know better.

The article Steven cites mentions a program called Ethics in America. I used tapes of this program in class to generate discussion. I recommend both episodes for your viewing online.

Military professionals view ethical standards as essential to their function. They deal with problems such as Abu Ghraib and move on. An indicator that bias has been exorcised from journalism will be when they can do the same.

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