if you throw a rock in the air you'll stand a pretty good chance
of it hitting either a
solider or a
journalist. Or at least you might be forgiven for
thinking that if news
coverage of the US lead War in that country is to
The war, now into its second week, dominates almost every minute
news and seemingly every column of newspaper
print. With thousands of
covering this war, as well as many more back in their respective
countries doing the same, this conflict has become completely
We have become media cannon fodder for the clamoring
to be the first to break the latest stories and get us as close
to the war as it's possible to be while sitting in front of a
thousands of miles away.
Within hours of this conflict starting the media began to bombard
us with facts and figures, diagrams and charts, live footage and
library material, as well as special reports and 'expert analysis'
of the war as it progressed, minute by minute. We're fed with more
information than we could ever hope to absorb let alone comprehend.
But almost overnight we can use seemingly technical military
terms as if with knowledge while we idly chat about the
war going on so far away, so close.
Already there have been victims on both sides. None more expensive
though surely, than the wars earliest casualty, truth.
Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said "In
wartime, truth is so important that it must be accompanied by a
bodyguard of lies." And in more recent times, just after the
terrorist acts of September
the 11th, the Pentagon sparked a hailstorm
of debate when its
plans to create a propaganda bureau called the Office
of Strategic Influence were leaked to the New
That office was to be given the authority to plant false stories
in the media to influence public opinion and project a favorable
view of US military activity abroad. However,
shortly after the New York Times article the OSI was reportedly
closed down. But were those reports real, or had
they in fact been planted?
It's been just over a week, and I've already given up on trying
to follow war coverage. The constant intensity of it has left me
looking for dry ground in this flood of information,
I fear that while the truth is out there, it must surely
Lost in a flood it stood little chance of surviving. It may of course
be washed ashore one day. But long after the echoes of gunfire
blasts have faded into the surrounding deserts, who will
be interested in yesterdays news?
The coverage thus far has made me seriously question our almost
blind trust in the media. I don't think it would be entirely unfair
to say that much of the western world has more faith in the power
of the press than the power of any God. We see, therefore we believe.
We're not encouraged to question, nor are we given the time to do
so as the same news reports are simply repeated over and over again
until something new is fed into the cycle.
The amount of information at our disposal has, it would seem to
me, given us a false sense of security. The news is served up and
consumed like microwaved
meals that fill our bellies but lack the the very ingredients
we need to stay healthy. And between the reports from far off places
and interviews conducted under bright white studio lights, are commercials
selling us shampoo and shower gel packed with fictional scientific
formulas that carry a promise with a 'sell by' date.
The lines between fact and fiction have become so blurred that
we almost need both to be clearly labeled in order to be identified.
Perhaps this is how it has always been? Certainly propaganda has
long been part of any political battle or war. But when the news
has become 'newsetainment' and entertainment has become the news,
our ability and indeed our desire to remain conversant with the
world around seems to be fading over time.
I wonder how long the media saturation of the Gulf war will continue.
What will tire first, the continuous coverage, or our interest in
it? Is it possible to overdose on information, to simply consume
Maybe we would become more interested in real news if we weren't
force fed such vast amounts of journalisms equivalent to the burger:
bite size bulletins consisting of news, gossip, conjecture, PR stunts,
corporate and government propaganda, along with a few secrets and
lies thrown in the mix to add that little splash of spice. It's
not news, it's the lazy and unhealthy alternative mashed up for
the masses, it's McNews.
Perhaps I am wrong to give up on the truth like this. In giving
up on the media are we not simply allowing them to continue serving
up McNews unchecked? I don't like newsetainment, but when it seems
that most people have simply sat down in resignation what can we
do? We could switch off, unplug, and demand something of a higher
quality I suppose. But we don't want to switch off and unplug do
we, because if we did that, then how would we know what was going
on in the world?