Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beyond the Headlines

I grew up watching Walter Cronkite and the Huntley-Brinkley Report in an age when investigative journalism had real bite. I cut my teeth during the 60s when the airwaves were filled with horrific reports from the Vietnam War and riots in the streets of America. This is not to suggest that network news was perfect (remember the whitewashing of the Kennedy administration), but it was a bulldog compared to today.

These days mainstream journalism has become tepid -- to put it mildly -- and self-censorship is the rule of the day. I rarely discover anything monumental by watching the national news; the best source is now the internet through organizations like TruthOut, AlterNet and Common Dreams.

Take for example a snippet of the article below. If journalism today remotely mirrored that of the 6os, one could expect even a slight mention of the following unreported story -- a story that needs to be told.
What do you do when you notice that there seems to have been a killing spree? While the national and international media were working themselves and much of the public into a frenzy about imaginary hordes of murderers, rapists, snipers, marauders, and general rampagers among the stranded crowds of mostly poor, mostly black people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a group of white men went on a shooting spree across the river.

Their criminal acts were no secret but they never became part of the official story. The media demonized the city's black population for crimes that turned out not to have happened, and the retractions were, as always, too little too late. At one point FEMA sent a refrigerated 18-wheeler to pick up what a colonel in the National Guard expected to be 200 bodies in New Orleans's Superdome, only to find six, including four who died naturally and a suicide. Meanwhile, the media never paid attention to the real rampage that took place openly across the river, even though there were corpses lying in unflooded streets and testimony everywhere you looked - or I looked, anyway...read the rest.

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