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sneezy birds - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-02-12 15:29
Subject: sneezy birds
Security: Public
Location:work
Mood:cynicalcynical
Music:there is no music here, nor any laughter...
I've found myself becoming increasingly annoyed with the media over the past few weeks. I've always found the media annoying in a sort of low-level background hum kind of a way but recently it's been getting worse. It started with the Suffolk murders just before Christmas when I noticed what I thought was a reporter deliberately trying to annoy the Senior Investigating Officer during a press conference. Then there was the circus that descended on Birmingham during the latest round of anti-terrorism arrests. And now it's bird flu.
For those of you on the other side of the Duckpond, a week or so ago H5N1 was found among turkeys at a turkey farm in Suffolk. Although considering the number of birds involved `farm' sounds rather inadequate. `Turkey factory' might be a better term. Anyway, 160,000 birds had to be destroyed.
Bogna and I were out when the story broke, but when we got back and I saw it on the telly I was struck by how little panic there was. Everything seemed calm and straightforward, and I thought that, having lived with the prospect of N1 for a couple of years, we could all be mature about it.
But it seems to me that the media, and especially the rolling news, have been intent on picking and prying at this story to try and manufacture a panic, to the extent that when, over the weekend, there were reports that sales of turkey products in the shops had finally started to fall and some stores might be thinking of removing them from their shelves, I thought I saw a tiny spark of triumph in the newsreaders' eyes. I almost imagined some news writer punching the air and shouting, "Yes! Result!" Now, of course, they can run interviews with concerned farmers and with microbiologists telling us not to panic. And so the story rolls on.
I'll grant you, this is my own take on it and I do tend to look at the media with a jaundiced eye - although, as befits my trade, I tend to be more cynical about print journalism - but I think I've noticed a trend in rolling news to either beef up a story or give it a couple of days' extra legs. They don't seem to be lying or manufacturing, but they do seem to be massaging, and I find that worrying.
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SJ
User: hundakleptisis
Date: 2007-02-12 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hate to say it but ever since 9/11 over here there seems to be a need in various high places to produce fear and hysteria. Politically because it enables the government to take away your rights and do what the hell they like and I guess media wise it prodcues a sharp uprise in sales.

Who needs a God to create an armagheddon when there are enough people around to do it for him?

S.J.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-13 16:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, SJ
We've had that too, John Reid and the Commissioner of the Met telling us that we must be vigilent and we're all in danger and the Director-General of MI5 saying there are `X' number of terrorist plots. Which I had to ponder about; what kind of security service actually says out loud that it has a number of terrorist plots under surveillance?
I think I said this before somewhere, but I think this thing - if I'm not just imagining it - is an artifact of the nature of rolling news. There must be a temptation, when you've deployed reporters and hired helicopters and so on, to see if you can get a story to move a bit further. If it doesn't, fine, you can just drop it at the end of the next news cycle, but if it does then you've got a little bit more news to report.
With the turkeys, it seemed at first that sales hadn't been hit, but after a week of nonstop poking by the press they've started to fall, which opens up all kinds of new angles. That does seem like massaging to me. But like I said, maybe I'm imagining it.
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SJ
User: hundakleptisis
Date: 2007-02-13 16:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What I find curious is that one of the documentary channels did an hour length report on this sort of thing basically by comparing the high state of fear vs muslims and crime and the higher rate of crime in America compared to Canada which is just across the border (They compared two border cities near to each other).

The interesting thing they produced were parts of the regular news reports in Canada which downplayed a lot of the terrorism and the murders and things and had really just a lot of local stuff like roads being built, new commerce and so on.

The report was, I think, trying to say maybe we encourage violence and crime by making such a big thing of it.

Couldn't say one way or the other myself, since i haven't really studied the stastistics, but it was an interesting programme, and it is true that Americans have lost a lot of their Rights since 9/11. Including absolving the US government of all guilt if they shoot Americans, provided it is suspected the victim was a terrorist.

S.J.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-13 23:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think there's certainly a case for saying that the media have a role in promoting a climate of fear. There's been an ongoing demonisation of young people over here for the past few years in the media - they're violent, out of control, antisocial, the police can't deal with them and so on. Mostly in the Daily Mail, which basically hates everybody who doesn't read the Daily Mail and agree with everything it says. For those of you who have never read the Mail, much that is evil is written there. Trust me.
Anyway, it's a good subject because you can wheel out any number of op-ed pieces about causes and effects and solutions and nobody can call you out on it and it sells papers because once people are scared of something they want to read about it.
The government, sensing a crowd pleaser (while inexplicably missing out on the crowd pleaser that not going into Iraq would have been) set out to show that it was tough on youth crime with a bunch of proposals that were quietly shelved as soon as everyone stopped looking. So then the papers (all right, the Mail) step in to slap the government for not carrying through their youth crime promises. And so the story keeps rolling. And in the meantime, people become afraid of the children on the streets.
We had the same thing with asylum seekers, until you'd think every other house was full of Afghans sponging off the state. And now of course we're being educated to distrust Muslims. All to sell papers.
More worrying on a personal level is the influx of Polish workers that began when Poland joined the EU. At first there were a lot of admiring articles in the papers about how people were battling to get hold of a Polish plumber and builder because they were so good. Then there were stories about how there were going to be five, ten, twenty times as many Polish workers coming here as the government said there would be and they were all going to take our jobs, then stories about Polish cities being depopulated of their professionals because they were all over here. And then, not long before Christmas, I started to see stories about how Polish children are crowding British ones out of schools, how there's friction between Poles and Brits in some towns, and so on. Those stories have dried up for the moment, but I'm afraid that if some jerk decides it'll make a good story there's a backlash coming.
That thing about absolving the government from guilt if they shoot people suspected of being terrorists works over here too. The justification seeming to be, `Hey, if we hadn't shot him and he'd gone on to blow up a bus, we'd have been blamed for that too.'
New World Order, SJ, New World Order...
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-02-14 00:33 (UTC)
Subject: emigration policy and the work force
I just thought I'd share a little emigration policy and the work force story in reverse -- seeing how it's Black History Month in the US.(Mind you, I have in fact hear NO mention of it in the papers, on TV, or from my children's schools which is surprising to me -- it has shrunk every year for the last 5 years or so.)

In antibellum America, a large share of the craftsperson professions were handled by the newly freed black population. They had been well-trained in various disciplines through years of, shall we say, apprenticeship. Further, the education system for the "new" population, flawed to be sure, emphasized useful career goals. However, the true colors of American racism displayed themselves with the emigration of the Germans in the 1880s. White America flocked to the German craftspeople, displacing the material niche of the burgeoning black middle class within a few decades.

Did the media play a part in that? Jah, you betcha.

Also, please be careful how you bandy the term "New World Order." The Baha'is who have been using the well over a hundred years have a VERY different take on its meaning. Please feel free to study it for a bit.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-14 23:26 (UTC)
Subject: Re: emigration policy and the work force
That's an interesting story; I never heard that before. Interesting to imagine what American society might be like now if the German immigration hadn't happened.
And I will be more careful about using the phrase `New World Order' again. I tend to use it rather cynically when the modern world disappoints me, which is increasingly often these days.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-02-13 01:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Alas and alack, it is not maturity on the part of the listening/reading audience that maintains the calm. It is the lack of sex (unless one considers how there got to be the 160,000 turkeys) that keeps the audience at calm. For example, this side of the Duckpond just endured several consecutive days of Anna-Nicole Smith coverage (while flashing film of her lack thereof) in place of any other news. There were other things to consider in the world I suspect, but it seems that the audience only reacts when there are blond dead women involved (JonBenet Ramsey, Lady Di, the prostitutes of Suffolk). The tawdriness is simply too creepy for me.

As far as the media picking at the stab that has healed over some N1 worries that has been rather systematically analyzed and planned for (part of my husband's work), it's their new raison d'etre -- not to report news -- but to lay claim on helping to generate short-sighted policy based on popular perception.

I cannot believe that I share your jaundiced eye regarding the media. I used to be such a happy child...
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-13 16:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was quite surprised at how big a showing the Anna-Nicole Smith story got over here - it came in as Breaking News and has been rumbling along ever since, even though I can't imagine more than ten or fifteen percent of the population has ever heard of her.
Regarding the media dictating policy, that happens a lot - you'll get headlines along the lines of `Blair Bans Hedgehogs After Daily Mirror Investigation!' or something like that. The Press like to think they have real power, and to an extent I suppose they do as far as shaping public opinion is concerned. I guess it makes us feel cosy and useful, rather than mostly pointless and - to borrow your phrase - tawdry.
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jmward14: Duzell3
User: jmward14
Date: 2007-02-13 20:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Duzell3
Welcome to American-style journalism. And I don't think you're cynical. I think you're touchingly trusting--and isn't that scary?
Hope your shoulder's okay!
Hugs,
Jean Marie
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-14 00:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Duzie! Hey! I know that look...
I've got nothing against American-style journalism per se. Some of the most outstanding journalists of the Twentieth Century were American, and I tip my hat to them and to their memory, but I do think that rolling news carries the danger of the news becoming more important than the story. And I think when that happens we ought to stop for a moment and think about what we're doing. And I think it'll be a cold day in Hell when that happens...
Touchingly trusting? I don't know. I really don't know. If it's true, I guess it is scary.
I'm getting twinges again after a weekend clearing the attic; I had a moderately poor day today until things loosened up in the afternoon. I need to get away from this madhouse for a while.
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jmward14
User: jmward14
Date: 2007-02-14 02:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Can you take a couple days off?
BTW, did hundakleptisis mention his mom's in a bad way and he may be flying to England soon?
Hugs,
Jean Marie
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-14 23:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I could, but the problem is that everything would be waiting for me when I got back, so I might as well not bother.
SJ didn't mention it, no. Damn, that's bad news.
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jmward14
User: jmward14
Date: 2007-02-15 01:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry about the work. Remember that situation all too well.
SJ's mom is very sick, but somewhat better than the family thought yesterday. He'll probably be winging your way sometime within the next couple of months. Maybe you guys can get together for dinner or something. It would probably lighten the situation.
Hugs,
Jean Marie
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jmward14: Duzell3
User: jmward14
Date: 2007-02-14 02:29 (UTC)
Subject: PS
Keyword:Duzell3
Of course you know this look. You're owned by a cat too.
Hugs and grins,
Jean Marie
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-02-14 23:37 (UTC)
Subject: Re: PS
I heard someone the other days say that dogs have owners, cats have employees, which sounded about right.
Many thanks for your ecard, which made me smile.
Big hugs.
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