30 November 2015

New page, please


Editing is a great gig. A person doesn't have to write a thing, but has the power to change what others have written by permitting or not permitting a line, a headline, or even a paragraph. Spin is the word many use to discuss the news media today. When I was a young man in the US, Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were the go-to men whose reporting was objective and reliable. On radio it was Paul Harvey who told us the news and it was the truth. Here in Australia, the ABC was the most reliable, certainly without neo-spin. But now things are different.

The editor has power to change the language and the meaning of a report. The crumbled paper shown here represents the attempts of the author to get it right, and yet this is all meaningless if the editor chooses 'an angle' that the report should carry. And the sad thing is that so many media outlets nowadays are choosing a flank, a particular ideology rather than what some would characterise as fair and balanced. Where have you gone, Walter Cronkite?

For instance, this article by Gareth Narunsky, highlights a faux pas from Channel 7 here in Australia. Narunsky tells of an editor, actually the ticker editor, and the spin allowed. "Channel 7 has compared a terrorist who stabbed an innocent 70-year-old man with someone “having an argument with their mother” prior to a car accident. The comments came from the network’s commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, when questioned by The AJN after the network ran a ticker saying “Israel: 16yo shot and killed by police” during the Sunrise program on Tuesday morning. The ticker was in reference to the attack last weekend on a 70-year-old Palestinian man by two Palestinian girls, aged 14 and 16, in Jerusalem."

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said media outlets which omit essential context and thereby “blur the lines” between victims and perpetrators of terrorist attacks are “detracting from, rather than enhancing, the public’s understanding of the nature of terrorism”.

In their book An Introduction to World Politics: Conflict and Consensus on a Small Planet, Richard Oliver Collin and Pamela L. Martin use a current example of spin to help us see angles. "Israeli governmental spokesmen insist that Palestinian violence is terrorism, while Israeli violence is legitimate law enforcement. The Palestinians desperately spin back, arguing that the violence is killing many more Arabs than Israelis, and portraying themselves as an embattled and persecuted people defending their ancestral territory in the West Bank and Gaza." (Page 35)

So how will we ever be sure of the truth, of the spin-free zone promised by the media?

Did you ever see the short movie, "Eye of the Beholder" with Richard Conte? After some preliminary optical illusions, the story unfolds. Made in 1953 it features the character Michael Girard and six different people's views of him. Truth is somewhere 'out there' to be sure. It might be worth your watching this 21 minute episode albeit choppy on YouTube Beholder
Truth be told, the best beholder is the Almighty. He is the eternal arbiter of truth, justice and everyman's way. He is the one who claimed to be the Truth. (John 14.6). And His renderings of judgment are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19.9). You want to know spin-free truth? Ask God; ask Yeshua; ask Him what is right and wrong; what is true and untrue. He will not lie. (Titus 1.2) I'm telling you the truth.

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