Category Archives: Media Criticism

Why I Like Reading Blogs

I hadn’t thought about it before until I saw this post by Kate Woodbury, but it’s because blog posts contain a lot of the words “I” and “me.”

Since “no first-person” inevitably results in bad writing (an overabundance of passive voice; the use of “one” or “student” instead of “I”), I always tell my students, “You may use first-person in my class. In other classes, check with the instructor.”

I never thought much about WHY teachers were telling students this. I vaguely remember someone telling me not to use first-person, and I vaguely remember ignoring that someone; other than that, it didn’t seem like an important issue.

However, I recently discovered at least one reason teachers ban first-person: prevented from using first-person, students will set aside me-centered thinking and use credible evidence; that is, rather than saying, “I think this, thus it is true,” students will write, “According to expert X . . .”

I don’t buy this argument; in fact, I think banning first-person usage ends up doing more damage than good. If the problem is the lack of expert/credible sources in students’ writing, not using first-person doesn’t solve the problem; it just covers it up. After all, a first-person’s account could be more credible than an “expert’s” account. I’d much rather read a student’s personal/eyewitness account of 9/11 than a thousand third-person conspiracy theories.

The key is in the first sentence. Being forced to write in third person often results in stilted, boring prose. Unfortunately, the modern journalistic ethos, probably hammered into them in J-School, is that “objective” news stories must be written third person. This is why good bloggers (even taking away the bias) write far better and more readable pieces, than most conventional journalists. They don’t have to do it with one “I” tied behind their back.

[Via her post on liberal fascism and Calvinism]

Sixty-Four Years On

Some thoughts on D-Day, from Jennifer Rubin.

One of the reasons that I do my WW II reporting parodies is to show that, over half a century after the achievements of the “greatest generation,” modern Americans and modern journalists have no concept of the losses and sacrifice of a real war, as demonstrated by all the whining about Iraq.

[Update mid afternoon]

Roger Kimball has received an early report of the progress on the beaches:

June 6, 1944. -NORMANDY- Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more wounded today in the first hours of America’s invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children.

Most of the French casualties were the result of the artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated and reaction against the American invasion was running high. “We are dying for no reason,” said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. “Americans can’t even shoot straight. I never thought I’d say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler.”

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, threatening the species with extinction.

Of course, they bungled the occupation, too.

Malice In Wonderland

Mark Hemingway has an idiot’s guide to the idiocy going on in Canada at the Human Wrongs Tribunal. He also has an interview with Andrew Coyne, the MacLeans reporter who has been live blogging the proceedings.

I hope that this will finally get the attention of the media in Canada, who so far seem clueless. As Mark points out, a lot of people have been abused under this system for years, but because they were politically incorrect as victims, the press paid it no mind. With apologies to Pastor Niemoller, this may be the motto of the CBC:

First they went after the racists
And we did not speak out, because we are not racist
Then they went after the pastors preaching against homosexuality
And we did not speak out, because we are not against homosexuality
Then they went after a Christian publisher who refused to print pedophilia
And we did not speak out because we are not Christian
Then they went after the Knights of Columbus
And we not speak out because we are not Knights of Columbus
Then they went after the Western Standard
And we did not speak out, because we are not a right-wing rag
Then they went after MacLeans
And we did not speak out because we hate Mark Steyn
We don’t expect them to come after us, because we’re afraid to say anything that might offend any Muslim, and we fear the consequences of doing that even more than we fear the HRC.

Why Hollywood Sux (Part 34,652)

It’s not bad enough that they are so deficient in creativity that they have to make flicks out of old television shows and comic books. Now they’re reduced to remaking stupid schlock that should never have been made the first time. Behold, what the world has been awaiting–a new version of Capricorn One. Well, at least they won’t be likely to compound the cinematic crime by including OJ, this time.

On a cheerier note, there’s apparently a much better (to put it mildly–I shouldn’t even be discussing them in the same post) SF movie on the way.

…what I have is a story where businessmen and engineers are the heroes, the protestors are the bad guys, people accept risk willingly and some of them die for it, where they do amazing things and go to astonishing places on their own dime, where nuclear power is good and essential and the motivation is not money or power but freedom and a love of humanity, and where America and all she stands for is a beacon in a darkening world.

It’s a crazy bizarro world of science fiction!

Hollywood would never make anything like that.

Good luck, Bill–we’ll be looking forward to seeing it, and ignoring the other.

The Lie That Will Not Die

In a piece on whether Obama will be Al Smith, or JFK (ummmmm…neither), John Judis (who should know better) writes:

Blacks began entering the Democratic party during the New Deal, but even as late as 1960, Richard Nixon won a third of the black vote. After Democratic support for and Republican opposition to the civil rights acts of the 1960s, the overwhelming majority of African Americans became Democrats.

Emphasis mine. I’ve discussed this before.

The ugly fact, of which ABC is either unaware, or worse, deliberately misleading their readers about, is that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have passed without Republican support, due to the continued opposition by southern Democrats. Contra ABC’s implication, it was not the minority Republicans who filibustered it, but the majority Democrats, and the cloture vote to end debate was achieved only with the votes of many Republicans. Former Klansman Robert “Sheets” Byrd (shamefully still representing the state of West Virginia, even in his dotage and senility) was the last debater on the floor before that cloture vote (it then required 67 votes, rather than the current 60) was passed. Other stars of the filibuster were Richard Russell (D-GA), Albert Gore, Sr. (the last Vice President’s father) (D-TN), and William Fullbright (D-AR) (Bill Clinton’s mentor).

But I guess when you’re a modern liberal Democrat reporter, all that can just go down the memory hole, as long as it’s in service to a greater cause–to preserving the myth of Republican racism and opposition to civil rights, and demonstrating the continuing horror of George Bush’s and the Republican’s “theocracy.”

This is simply false history, but it’s become a matter of faith to Democrats. The Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, but they couldn’t muster the votes to pass the bill on their own. Everyone who filibustered the Civil Rights Act was a Democrat. In order to get cloture, and passage, they had to get significant Republican support. The notion that it was Republicans who were opposed to true civil rights (as opposed to the modern reverse discrimination) remains pernicious. But the story has to be told that way, otherwise the narrative of Republicans as “racists” falls apart.

[Update a few minutes later]

Historical inaccuracies aside, what is particularly annoying about Judis’ thesis is that it takes as a given that if Obama loses, it will be because of his race, and have nothing to do with his extreme lack of experience, and the fact that he’ll be the most left-wing candidate nominated since George McGovern.

“Fairness”

Andrew Coyne continues to liveblog the witch hunt in Vancouver. I loved this bit:

We’re going through an interview Awan gave on Mike Duffy Live. He tells Duffy that this isn’t a case of free speech versus minority rights. Rather, he says, Maclean’s can go on publishing what it likes, Steyn can write whatever he likes, just so long as “the Muslim community” gets a right of reply. (I’m paraphrasing. The video of the interview is here.) So really, what they’re proposing (he explains in the interview) is an extension of free speech.

I think I see his point. Every time Maclean’s wants to publish an article some group doesn’t like, they just have to give them an equal amount of space in the magazine. Double the space, at twice the cost to Maclean’s – but zero cost to the complainants. That is “free” speech.

That is also the “Fairness Doctrine” in a nutshell. It’s why, if we have a Democrat president with a Democrat Congress, one of the first things they will attempt to do will be to resurrect that atrocity against free speech, in the hopes that it will shut down “right wing” radio.

Of course (and fortunately), the Fairness Doctrine only applies to over-the-air broadcast of television and radio (with the excuse that the spectrum is limited, and therefore ultimately owned by the public). What would probably happen if it were back in force is that Limbaugh and others would just get chased off the air waves to satellite (as has happened with over-air- television politics shows, to satellite and cable), and a lot more people would buy XM so they could continue to get a vigorous discussion of politics.

What is being proposed in Canada is to not just institute a fairness doctrine, but to extend it to print. Which, as Coyne points out, is utterly inimical to free speech, and would shut down any publication whatsoever that was “controversial.” Which means any publication that goes against the politically correct consensus of the day.

“Fairness”

Andrew Coyne continues to liveblog the witch hunt in Vancouver. I loved this bit:

We’re going through an interview Awan gave on Mike Duffy Live. He tells Duffy that this isn’t a case of free speech versus minority rights. Rather, he says, Maclean’s can go on publishing what it likes, Steyn can write whatever he likes, just so long as “the Muslim community” gets a right of reply. (I’m paraphrasing. The video of the interview is here.) So really, what they’re proposing (he explains in the interview) is an extension of free speech.

I think I see his point. Every time Maclean’s wants to publish an article some group doesn’t like, they just have to give them an equal amount of space in the magazine. Double the space, at twice the cost to Maclean’s – but zero cost to the complainants. That is “free” speech.

That is also the “Fairness Doctrine” in a nutshell. It’s why, if we have a Democrat president with a Democrat Congress, one of the first things they will attempt to do will be to resurrect that atrocity against free speech, in the hopes that it will shut down “right wing” radio.

Of course (and fortunately), the Fairness Doctrine only applies to over-the-air broadcast of television and radio (with the excuse that the spectrum is limited, and therefore ultimately owned by the public). What would probably happen if it were back in force is that Limbaugh and others would just get chased off the air waves to satellite (as has happened with over-air- television politics shows, to satellite and cable), and a lot more people would buy XM so they could continue to get a vigorous discussion of politics.

What is being proposed in Canada is to not just institute a fairness doctrine, but to extend it to print. Which, as Coyne points out, is utterly inimical to free speech, and would shut down any publication whatsoever that was “controversial.” Which means any publication that goes against the politically correct consensus of the day.

Canadian Journalism

This is appalling, but predictable:

I was astonished by their absolute lack of any background on the story they were sent to cover.

More astonished that a journalist would not know who Mark Steyn was, or that, depending on its outcome, the case they were covering could have very real ramifications on their ability to practice their trade in the future, and impact the right to free speech for all Canadians.

They knew nothing about the AHRC case against Ezra.

They did know about the Western Standard but were unaware that it was no longer being published.

They knew nothing about the Richard Warman Vs Levant, Shaidle, McMillan, Kay and Free Dominion. In fact, they had never heard of Mr. Sec. 13 Richard Warman.

They were aware that a similar charge agianst Steyn had been thrown out by the OHRC, but nothing beyond that.

I tried to provide some background on each of these cases but could see that there was not a lot of interest.

I wonder what kind of reports will be filed by each of these journalists for CBC radio? I also wonder how many other journalists sent to cover this remarkably important case, are so poorly informed.

No wonder the government and the “Human Rights” Commissions get away with so much there.

Canadian Kangaroos

Andrew Coyne is live blogging the “Human Rights” Commission star chamber for Mark Steyn and MacLeans. He’s hoping that his magazine will lose:

Don’t tell my employers, but I’m sort of hoping we lose this case. If we win–that is, if the tribunal finds we did not, by publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book, expose Muslims to hatred and contempt, or whatever the legalese is–then the whole clanking business rolls on, the stronger for having shown how “reasonable” it can be. Whereas if we lose, and fight on appeal, and challenge the whole legal basis for these inquisitions, then something important will be achieved.

I liked this:

Oh God: they’re talking about who they’ll be calling on Friday. Five days in a windowless room. If that’s not a human rights violation…

And this comment on the Orwellian nature of the law:

Under Section 7.1, he continues, innocent intent is not a defence, nor is truth, nor is fair comment or the public interest, nor is good faith or responsible journalism.

Or in other words, there is no defence.

It’s a good read, so far.

[Update about half an hour later]

Some thoughts from Mark Steyn:

The Canadian Islamic Congress lawyer says that freedom of speech is a “red herring”. If it were, it would be on the endangered species list.

Way To Go

Thanks for discouraging live blogging of space (and other) conferences (not to mention anything else), Keith.

[Saturday morning update]

The lesson here is that you have to be careful to delineate your editorial comments from the reportage (I usually do this with parenths, I think, though I’d have to go back and look at some from the past to be sure–I might use square brackets) when transcribing, because it is easily confused otherwise. But as I said, we shouldn’t let things like this discourage us from doing it. This is the first conference like this that I’ve missed in a while, and I really appreciate what Clark and others are doing. I’ve always wondered if what I was doing was worthwhile when I live blogged other conferences, and now I know that it definitely is. Well, at least when others do it…