So many times it’s possible to see and come to understand how differences of opinion can come about. No matter the point of view, it can only be appreciated by one person because we can’t see through other people’s eyes in the real world. In photography we see what the auteur, the artist, sees and then captures with the result of light-on-silver in the old days and now pixels-on-pixels. No matter what the subject the interpretation is what drives the appreciation of perceived fact.
There are hundreds of different news outlets across the world from which you can pick and chose the subject-du-jour and gain reference to subjects of minor and major import. If you want a pro-Arab slant to the news, you might choose Al Jazeera. If you want pro Catholic news source to reflect your interests you could choose the Catholic News Service to indicate the direction you approach topics from. The BBC differs from the American broadcast network CBS as does CBS differ from Fox and Christian Broadcasting Network.
For every nation there is an acceptable forum for the dissemination of information. Under the umbrella of cultural similarity people are going to decide their beliefs based on the objective and the subjective points of view offered by those controlling the media in that region. We, in America, are just as susceptible to the sway of partisan perspectives on news stories as any other people. There are liberal and conservative biases displayed by all members of the press.
The members of the Fifth Estate, the press, are quick to tout their lack of prejudice when they “report the news”. They’re “fair, balanced and unafraid”. They “print all the news that’s fit to print”. The clichés roll quickly from beneath the ball scratching the ink into the reporter’s notebook. As the indigo pollutes the page so does the interpretive perception of the reporter as he/she experiences the impact of the event they cover.
They want you to feel the immediacy of the event, the emotion, the sounds; the palpability of the fear. They seek to make real the taste of terror and the reality of death delivered swiftly and without the remorse of personal contact between combatants. They describe the elements of nature affecting the community or the commonality of pain suffered by those in his/her immediate area as you are distanced by the fact. You aren’t there. But it’s their job to make you feel as though you are.
But when it comes to reporting on politics, reportage takes a back seat to commentary. Somebody takes what should be objectively reported and develops definitions and explanations for you to mull over and then decide which explanation best suit your belief systems. Similar people bond under similar circumstances and draw their solace by associating with people of similar visionary development. Therefore people will regularly go to the news source they find fulfills their need for a particular slant on the news and their understanding of people abroad they’ve never met or know to a point of understanding.
The same goes for how the people of Bosnia have a different view of American foreign policy from a citizen in Israel. There are people in under-developed countries can’t perceive of numbers over a million let alone trillions of dollars being mismanaged as a n economic and fiscal reality. They believe we’re all wealthy, we all drive the most expensive cars, we all eat with solid sterling silver implements and we waste more than we produce.
Their perceptions reflect their behavior on the world stage. Belgians and the Swiss have a different view of Americans based on a lower amount of foreign aid received than an underdeveloped nation like Somalia or the Sudan. Economic forces lead people to react in different ways from nation to nation on a continent where politics is not homogeneous. It is not the same from one neighbor nation to the next.
This manufactured and quite frankly prejudicial format of news reportage in the world press draws a great deal of its power from reporters inside and native to the country being watched as it displays itself before the audience watching that world stage.
One of the publications I enjoy studying weekly is a magazine called: The Week. It reflects news coverage from around the world and showcases many of the actual editorials and commentary offered concerning foreign perceptions of American politics, culture, morals and demeanors.
It’s enlightening because these people affect their governments’ responses to American moves in the economic, political and cultural realms. From there they add the spice of their culture and ethnicity to develop a response to effects of American influence on their economies, cultures and politics.
So many Europeans marvel at the perceived fact that Washington was hijacked by ultra-conservatives ready to destroy the nation if not obeyed by the elected minions in Congress. Europeans wanted to believe in Obama’s ability to bring “hope and change” but imprinted their ideas of what “hope and change“ actually means.
Their perception of a just and righteous world follows a heavily influenced vein of Socialist-Marxist development where everybody comes together under the umbrella of a beneficent state and all work together for the betterment of society. They evidently forgot the Iron Curtain, the Communist Regimes of the USSR, Bulgaria, East Germany, Albania, Hungary and myriad others world-wide. There’s been a veil of forgetfulness descending over these people’s eyes when it comes to the horrors of greedy, powerful individuals hijacking the dreams of overly idealistic theoreticians.
The European community takes the news offered them by American news services and develops their understanding of American ethos. Therefore if they are quoted stories and impressions offered by liberal or left-wing sources in American politics they develop an awareness of ALL Americans based on a subjective element.
After all, who knows better about the American people than American journalists? It almost seems logical but for one thing: the subjective element of the commentary appended to any and almost all news reports.
The reportage is developed from the prejudicial viewpoint of the observer/reporter. An example of this would be Dan Rather, formerly of CBS News. He couldn’t speak about former President G.W. Bush without a commentary insinuated to elevate the reporter over the element of the story. If you do a web-search, check out the CBS Report immediately surrounding the events of 9/11/2001. It shows exactly what I’m discussing here as a description of what is meant by subjective vs. objective reporting.
Objective reporting is what Joe Friday used to ask for on a criminal investigation: “just the fact”.
Subjective reporting is when the reporter tells you what he/she believes the events mean, the effects they will have on the people in the area, what could happen next if this, that or the other thing happens and how the world could react to all that’s been mentioned. It’s prejudiced because it’s opinion masquerading as fact. But most insidiously it’s fact used to conceal the prejudice. When questions are asked to incite and draw a specific response and allow for the twisting of a public opinion as developed by the reporter, it is no more than propaganda.
Propaganda pertains to the growth of a point of view among the public elements doing the interpretation. The interpretations are products of the personal mindsets, preconceptions and experiences of the news receiver. None of this is built on a foundation of fact or the completion of reasoned arguments, but more the edifice of internal feelings and emotions of questionable maturity. The thoughts come from within and could be illusions crafted for them rather than the realities of personal experience and understanding as it refers to what is known, not merely described.
Subjective reportage destroys the realities in favor of the perceived. In this it creates illusion, smoke and mirrors; hocus complementing pocus.
As Europeans watch Obama’s quest to charm the cobra back into the basket they fail to see ALL the elements involved in the economic mess we’re dealing with now. They don’t get the facts so they act on the theater presented them. They only know what they’re told. They all look through the jewel of existence through a different facet-just as we do.
Does that sound familiar?
Thanks for listening.