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Here are several successive headlines for NYT coverage of the Gaza hospital blast:
The initial headline was “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.” It soon changed to “At Least 500 Dead in Strike on Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” and then to “At Least 500 Dead in Blast at Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say.”
BBC was as bad or worse:
I remember something a wise executive said to me once:
When you’re running a large organization, you’re not seeing reality. It’s like you’re watching a movie where you only get to see maybe one out of a thousand frames, and from that you have to figure out what’s going on.
If this is true of running large organizations–and to a considerable extent, it is–then it is even more true of the citizen in a large and complex country. Few people can have direct personal information as to what happened with a situation such as the Gaza hospital. They have to rely on sources–they watch a movie, using the above metaphor, and all they can see is selected frames. So the people who choose what frames are seen, and in what sequence, have enormous power.
The media is part of the feedback system of a society, and to the extent that that feedback is suppressed or distorted, bad things are likely to happen. It is as if the thermostat for your HVAC system was sending a “it’s too cold” signal when it is really way too hot. Or, more vividly, as if the hydraulic elevator servos on an airliner were receiving feedback that the actual position of the elevator is 20 degrees UP when it is actually 20 degrees DOWN.
The level of ideological capture, groupthink, and lack of interest in actual truth among much of our major media is very high.
Someone at X/Twitter asked:
At what point does having recent work for nytimes, or even TechCrunch, on a resume turn into a career risk because journalistic integrity is so low? Are we there already?
My–possibly too cynical?–response to this question was:
The people doing this probably think it creates career *benefit*, because it signals a tribal identification shared by a lot of prominent media organizations.Published in