Category Archives: Media Criticism

The Situation

in Iraq:

So far this year, many more parts of central Iraq have been cleared of terrorists, and the remaining ones know they have to maintain their visibility to survive. Setting off several bombs a day keeps the terrorists in the news, even if the explosions take place in a smaller and smaller area of Iraq. The terrorists play more to the international media, than they do to anyone inside Iraq. The terrorists are already hated and feared throughout the country, even in Sunni Arab areas. There, the terrorists must increasingly divert resources to terrorize Sunni Arabs, and keep them in line. They are aided by Islamic conservatives, who see all the unrest as an opportunity to impose Taliban like rules on the population. If the terrorists accomplish nothing else, they will have shown how to manipulate the mass media, and divert attention from the true origins of the terrorists, and their objectives. It’s been a masterful job which, of course, the mass media will have no interest in examining anytime soon. In a generation or so, there will be books and articles about it, but the subject will never get a lot of media attention.

…Pro-Iranian Shia groups are having second thoughts. Several years of having a Shia majority running the country has instilled a confidence in the Shia community that has not been felt in generations. The thought of Iran pulling the strings in a Shia run Iraq was never very palatable. Iraqi Shia know that the Iranians despise Arabs, especially Iraqi Arabs. The Iranians try to hide this, but the Iraqis know, and now the thinking is “we can do this.” No one will know for sure until the Americans leave, and the security forces either stay united, or fragment to join the dozens of tribal, religious and political militias.

What Is News?

And what is not news?

This is almost like a laboratory experiment, isn’t it? A handful of veterans (including three out of something like 7,000 retired generals) oppose the war: News. Thousands of active duty personnel urge Congress to support the war effort: Not news. That pretty well sums up the journalistic standard that has been applied to the conflict in Iraq.

If soldiers support the war, I’d think that was news, given that they’re bearing the brunt of it. But that’s just me. One of many reasons I’ll never be an editor at a major news publication…


The New Editor talks about it on the part of both the democrats, and a media that refuses to report on it.

[Update at 8:20 PM EDT]

And Hugh Hewitt continues to express his dismay and amazement (shared by me) at the Star-Trib’s treatment of James Lileks:

Of course James is my friend, but a lot of my friends suffer at the hands of bad management, and I don’t say a word about it on my blog or my show.

I am exercised about Lileks because it is an astoundingly stupid decision affecting an industry with which I am connected and in which merit used to matter. The collapse of the media business and the rise of mediocrity is what’s bugging me.

I offer you Dave Barry as an expert on the field of newspaper columns. Case closed. Ten thousand second stringers can line up and berate Lileks, but we know better, and Barry’s assessment just ends that discussion.

And a comment from Dave Barry’s post:

Yeah, one thing that Lileks’ blog revealed was how much life and quirk was being squeezed out of his writing to make it fit in the Star-Tribune. (For which the editors blame him, not themselves.) Anyway, I don’t think we should be bashing the people here who don’t find Lileks funny. Humor is individual, they’re entitled to their opinion…

…and isn’t it interesting that at least they HAVE an opinion of Lileks. How many other writers at the Star-Tribune can anyone here say that of?

And a similar comment from Ken Layne, who would know such things:

This is completely retarded. Lileks is the best-known writer on that whole paper — if there’s any nationally-known writer other than Lileks on that paper, I’ve never heard of ’em. I wouldn’t be surprised if his personal site gets more traffic than the whole Strib site.

Here’s a quiz to see if you’ve “got what it takes” to be a newspaper editor:

You’re in a fading industry that’s making a slow & dumb transition to the online world. You’ve moved so slowly & clumsily that most of the things you used to control — comics, sports news, classifieds — have already been reinvented and seized by people who aren’t involved with newspapers at all. But on your staff, you’ve got a local columnist who has a big & loyal online readership you would spend millions trying to get on your own. Do you:

a) Give him a substantial raise and have him write exclusively for your online paper?
b) Demote him to local coverage.

If you answered B, then you’re ready for a high-flying newspaper management career … for a few years, anyway, when the last local print newspaper shuts down for good. Jesus …