Round 2: Ian McLean vs 44soulslayer: "Here Ye! Here Ye!, Read All About It!"

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posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 11:03 PM
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The topic for this debate is: "The Main Stream Media Is Exaggerating The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines."

Ian McLean will be arguing the pro position and will open the debate.
44soulslayer will argue the con position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

There is a 10,000 character limit. Excess characters will be deleted prior to judging.

Editing is strictly forbidden. For reasons of time, mod edits should not be expected except in critical situations.

Opening and closing statements must not contain any images and must have no more than 3 references.

Excluding both the opening and closing statements, only two images and no more than 5 references can be included for each post. Each individual post may contain up to 10 sentences of external source material, totaled from all external sources.

Links to multiple pages within a single domain count as 1 reference but there is a maximum of 3 individual links per reference, then further links from that domain count as a new reference. Excess quotes and excess links will be removed before judging.

Videos are not permitted. This includes all youtube links and other multi-media video sources.

The Socratic Debate Rule is in effect. Each debater may ask up to 5 questions in each post, except for in closing statements- no questions are permitted in closing statements. These questions should be clearly labeled as "Question 1, Question 2, etc.

When asked a question, a debater must give a straight forward answer in his next post. Explanations and qualifications to an answer are acceptable, but must be preceded by a direct answer.

This Is The Time Limit Policy

Each debate must post within 24 hours of the timestamp on the last post. If your opponent is late, you may post immediately without waiting for an announcement of turn forfeiture. If you are late, you may post late, unless your opponent has already posted.

Each debater is entitled to one extension of 24 hours. The request should be posted in this thread and is automatically granted- the 24 hour extension begins at the expiration of the previous deadline, not at the time of the extension request.

In the unlikely event that tardiness results in simultaneous posting by both debaters, the late post will be deleted unless it appears in its proper order in the thread.

Judging will be done by a panel of anonymous judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision. One of the debate forum moderators will then make a final post announcing the winner.




posted on Mar, 9 2009 @ 05:46 PM
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Thank you Semperfortis, for the opportunity to discuss this intriguing subject. A great thanks to the ATS staff, forum moderators, debate participants, judges and readers, for making this tournament possible. Respect to my esteemed opponent, 44soulslayer - let's get to typing!


 

Opening Statement


"The Main Stream Media Is Exaggerating The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines."


Well, this will be an easy debate. The proof of my side is inherent in the nature of 'The Media'.

The Media's function is take news (events, facts, speculation, and opinion) and distill it, selecting what is considered relevant and important to their readership, in accordance with their individual viewpoints.

The target of that action, the audience, is what makes the distinction between 'mainstream' and non-mainstream media. Mainstream media targets the culture at large, the general public, when selecting the iconic ideas and phrasing they use to describe "what's happening in the world" and "what you need to know".

This is a creative processes, as any journalism professor will tell you, with only occasional nods and glimmers of 'objectivity' involved.

The 'map' the media creates, showing their image of "the state of the world", is never the same as the actual territory of "objective reality", whatever that might be. The creative output of the media is a convenient illusion, which always to some extent exaggerates, downplays, or entirely fabricates, at best a crude approximation of the 'objective ideal' of complete accuracy.

The subjectivity inherent in the process of news-making is shown by a simple example: how traditional newspapers encourage the inverse pyramid approach when composing stories:


Use the “inverse pyramid” structure

Go from the most important material to the least important, and from general points to specific details. Telling a story in chronological order usually isn’t the best way to inform readers. Many people read only the first few paragraphs of a story, so it’s important to start with the most vital information and add details farther down.

[1] "Writing News: A Quick Primer", MIT News Office


Look at that definition, and consider: who decides what is "important"? And what is "vital" information? Is there an 'objective' definition?

Thus, exaggeration is an inherent byproduct of the act of "creating headlines". To create headlines, media must, at times, exaggerate.

Now let's consider the spectrum of audience, and media that range from small, specialized publications to larger "mainstream" media outlets. What's the difference?

The difference is the audience, their expectations and world-views. As the audience becomes larger, the many viewpoints and interests they hold become more diverse and varied. Deciding what is 'vital' and 'important' becomes much more a matter of manufacturing consensus, attempting to to unify a wide and often contradictory range of informational appetites, than simply providing specific facts.

At the national level of mainstream media, nearly every story, and the distillation of importance it purports as 'objective', will be considered exaggeration by many, downplay by others, and a complete ignoring of the relevant facts by some. Current economic reporting is certainly showing this.

These obvious corollaries to the very nature of media reporting prove my case: to create headlines, the mainstream media must exaggerate.


I am sure my opponent will attempt to 'go narrow', and attempt to avoid this obvious conclusion, clouding the issue with a biased selection of 'examples'. In fact, I welcome and look forward to the robust discussion we are sure to have. Scratching beyond the simple surface, the breadth of study involved in this topic is vast: the structural process of reporting, the commercial nature of the media industry, the background of events that have recently placed 'economic news' at the forefront of the agenda, the interaction between political consensus making and mainstream news.

We'll examine these subjects, and the relationships between them, as necessary to this debate - oh dear moderator, could we have 50,000 words each to describe our contentions, rather than the mere 10,000 or so we are allowed here? We'll have to make do with what's available to us. This is no worry, as the case I describe here is consistent, both largely and specifically. We will merely uncover that which is necessary, interesting, and applicable, and leave the larger image of 'the whole truth' in the responsible hands of the perceptive reader.


 


Look more closely at the phrasing of the topic. Am I the only one who finds the phrase "the current economic status" a little clumsy? I am sure the moderator meant, and initially wrote, "the current economic crisis", but later decided to change the phrasing. Interesting that the very loaded term "crisis" has been made synonymous with the state of the economy today, to the point that other, less exaggerated references seem slightly awkward and unusual.

I'm not going to downplay the issues with the world-wide economy, or claim that problems don't exist. They certainly do, and many always have. I just want the reader to consider:

Who decided there is a "crisis", and who has put that label in the minds of the public at large?


 


Thank you 44soulslayer, the floor is yours!



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 05:34 AM
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Ladies and gentlemen of ATS, moderators and judges and my honourable opponent Ian McLean, I thank you all for this opportunity and for the considerable time you take to organise, host and read this debate.

Soul’s Opening

The issue stands before us:

"The Main Stream Media Is Exaggerating The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines."

Let’s take a moment to examine this phrase. How we define this phrase will undoubtedly colour the debate decisively, and as such warrants closer investigation.

Main stream media: The term MSM denotes the largest forms of information dissemination possible in our society. It refers primarily to newspapers, TV channels, major websites and radio broadcasts.

The purpose of media, is not simply to exaggerate breaking events to entire viewers, as my opponent claims. My opponent claims that the use of the inverted pyramid technique shows that all MSM output is hyperbole, when in reality the use of the inverted pyramid is merely to get the most important points across first.

My opponent questions who makes the judgement about what is “important”. The answer is the editor of the media. I’m not going to claim that all MSM output is neutral and unbiased, because in reality it is not. Each brand of MSM has their own objectives, directives and guiding principles, along with select advocacy positions. However the core functions of any MSM outfit are:

a. Information dissemination, education, political communication and current affairs
b. Entertainment in the form of acting, music, sports
c. Public service and government announcements

I suggest that my opponent has made a critical mistake in limiting his argument to only journalistic media output. That is to say, the term “media” equally applies to all spheres of mass output, not just news programs.

Exaggerating:

ex•ag•ger•ate
1. To represent as greater than is actually the case; overstate: exaggerate the size of the enemy force; exaggerated his own role in the episode.
2. To enlarge or increase to an abnormal degree: thick lenses that exaggerated the size of her eyes.


My opponent states that all news media must exaggerate breaking stories in order to draw in a larger audience. While this may certainly true of the less reputable media output, the “mainstream” adjective in the debate title suggests that we are primarily dealing with top-flight media such as the Financial Timesor CBS News. I will show, throughout my debate, that such top-flight media sources are largely accurate in their reporting.

Furthermore, due to the financial and quantitative nature of the subject of economics, I will be able to show you that the media has not been exaggerating anything. Numbers cannot be exaggerated; they are either correct or incorrect. My opponent will indubitably state that opinions surrounding the numbers may be exaggerated in order to generate higher audience numbers. He will need to prove his case, and will ironically no doubt need to “go narrow” as he claimed I would.

The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines:

Additionally, while it is not vital to the debate topic, I will show you the full severity of the current financial crisis. This doesn’t prove my case solely, but will disprove my opponent’s claim :


To create headlines, media must, at times, exaggerate.


I soundly refute this assertion, and posit that the media need not exaggerate when the news stories are big enough. Where is the need to exaggerate when the Bank of England’s interest rates hit the lowest levels in recorded history (400+ years)? Where is the need for hyperbole when a two centuries old investment bank such as Lehman’s goes bust? The stories surrounding the economic crisis are big enough to write themselves, they need no embellishment.

I will prove that if anything the MSM has been restrained in their approach as compared to the alternative media, who have been proclaiming Armageddon ever since the 15th of October (Lehman’s going bust).

My opponent also states:


Who decided there is a "crisis", and who has put that label in the minds of the public at large?


It is often said that the media provide the “first rough draft of history”. The combined opinions of journalists, editors and reporters lead to this first draft. As media often reflects the opinions of their subscribers, we can say that the general public also think that there is an economic crisis. Dear Sir, if you seek a de jure status for labels surrounding current events then you are looking for something which is impossible. There is only the de facto: and that is the common consensus that there is an economic crisis ongoing as we speak.


Soul sets forth his debate

Throughout this debate, I will be focusing on shining through two strands of logic:

1. That the financial crisis is severe
2. That the main stream media have been reporting on the crisis

I will show that there is considerable congruence between both.

I will show that the vast majority of high quality media output is reporting on the crisis in a responsible, unembellished manner. I shall not, as my opponent claims, “go narrow”. However I shall consider the most prominent main stream sources, such as the Financial Times and Bloomberg. My opponent will parry this by utilizing Chicken Little-esque sources such as the New York Post. The reader must realize that these are far fewer in number than their more respectable counterparts.

I will expand upon my argument in three posts detailing the following:

1. Economic indicators, data and the manner in which they were reported in the MSM.
2. Historical significance, historical perspectives of the current crisis (such as the aforementioned Bank of England fact), and the manner in which they were reported in the MSM.
3. Social indicators and human interest stories (such as tent cities, bread lines) and the manner in which they were reported by the MSM.



In times of despair and darkness we all seek knowledge and illumination. Must we disparage those who provide this illumination? As most of us are alternative theorists, we have a lukewarm and ambiguous relationship with the mainstream media. Who visited an alternative news website to read about the 9/11 attacks as they were going on? I bet you were all glued to your TVs watching the horror unfold, and I bet you were all tuned in to an MSM broadcast. They may be politically biased at times, but when it comes to major events their reputation for speed and credentials for accuracy are untouchable. The financial crisis is a major event in my opinion, and to suggest that the MSM need to embellish the stories is to suggest that the crisis is much ado about nothing. I for one cannot accept that.

Thank you sir, you have the floor.



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 11:42 AM
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First Reply

Thank you 44ss, for a wonderful opening statement. I, too, trust the mainstream media to reliably create the kind of news product that we here at ATS have come to expect from them.



SQ1: Is creating "intense, hard-hitting news" important to mainstream media, especially those with daily or even hourly news-cycles?


My opponent is correct that 'mainstream media' refers to more than just newspapers; it also can include television, websites, and radio. There is even a news channel that labels itself "headline news", despite there not being a printing press in sight! Perhaps we will examine the more extreme hyperbole extruded by such outlets, in future replies, but for this reply I am quite content with simply discussing the topic as: headlines in the printed mainstream media. The evidence there is compelling enough.


First, a brief rebuttal:


The purpose of media, is not simply to exaggerate breaking events to entire viewers, as my opponent claims.

I claimed no such thing. The point I made is that a headline, the smallest distillation of the 'inverted pyramid', is inherently an exaggeration, as it must drastically simplify facts presented later in the story, to the point where it very often either overstates or inaccurately portrays the facts.



I’m not going to claim that all MSM output is neutral and unbiased, because in reality it is not. Each brand of MSM has their own objectives, directives and guiding principles, along with select advocacy positions.

My opponent makes an interesting point which highlights that, by systemic nature, the media-selection of importance is virtually impossible to achieve in a 'neutral and unbiased' manner. Perhaps in small, scientific publications it is somewhat possible, but in larger mainstream news the consideration of what is 'important' to the public is much more varied and subjective, and is treated from various (euphemistically named) "advocacy positions".

That's another term for agendas. And my opponent is certainly correct in alluding to the profit-seeking motive of the news business: sensationalism and exaggeration sells. But that is of course not the only agenda of the media business as a whole.



top-flight media

Is this an attempt to narrow the topic, and exclude the more sensationalist behavior of the mainstream media? If so, you might have chosen a more subtle term - I thought "top-flight" was a brand of golf ball.



I soundly refute this assertion, and posit that the media need not exaggerate when the news stories are big enough.

Ah yes, "big enough". Big enough when everything must suddenly be labeled part of the 'crisis'. When the gestalt can be spun into a package of public perception, of what's happening 'now', so intensely important that action must be taken! I will address more, in fun detail, in a future reply: the relationship between media-motivated 'problem/reaction' propaganda and the achievement of political and economic agendas.


 


My opponent seems to be afraid of 'narrowing in' on the issues, and talking specifics. Perhaps I deterred him somewhat, if so I apologize. There's nothing wrong with referring to specific facts, and I look forward to those my opponent might choose to present. However, facts should be used to illustrate a broad trend, and that is what I will show in the remainder of this reply.

My opponent claims:


Numbers cannot be exaggerated

But is this true? Let's look at a few specific examples, and see what pattern might emerge.


Case in point: January, 2009.

In late January, 2009, the public was pummeled with news of wave after wave of job losses in the American economy, 'massive layoffs' that the public was led to believe were larger than any in history. Solid companies, even from the heart of America's normally-robust technical sector, were announcing 'cutbacks'.

From the stolid Wall Street Journal, we had this rather reserved headline:


Microsoft to Cut Up to 5,000 Jobs

Software maker's quarterly profit falls 11% amid weakening demand

[1] The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2009


What did the slightly more mainstream LA Times make of this story? Let's see:


Microsoft a Window into Tech Sector's Crash

The bellwether will shed 5,000 jobs, its first round of layoffs ever, amid declining profit

[2] The Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2009


It certainly sounds grim! And rightly so, as we all know that consumer spending was down, corporate pre-orders had been put on hold, etc. Right? In fact, the 'job losses' weren't limited to the tech sector alone, we were told!


Deluge of Layoffs Hits U.S. Economy


U.S. companies slashed nearly 60,000 jobs Monday, adding impetus to the Obama administration's efforts to reach agreement on a plan to pump $825 billion into the economy over a two-year period...

[3] The Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2009


Perhaps the readers can see a slight hint of the 'encouraging of agenda' my opponent alluded to? But how did the markets react to this news, after the hyperbole had settled?


Markets Unfazed by Large Layoffs As Investors Accept the Worst


There is something to be said for a market that can take the announcement of more than 50,000 job cuts in one day and move forward with solid gains on the session...

[4] The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2009


How strange! And what a tribute to the robustness of the American economy, in it's ability to "Accept the Worst". And perhaps cause for hope, in the salvation offered by governmental redress of economic ailments.

But was the tale of 'deluge' told by those headlines true? The public had to wait several weeks to find out, and the story was only covered in the non-mainstream tech-industry press:


Tech Layoffs: The Real Numbers Aren't So Bad

A series of announcements suggest 35,000 or more tech-vendor workers lost their jobs this winter; the real figures are far, far less.

[5] Infoworld, February 11, 2009


In fact, of the 35,000 'lost jobs' Infoworld examined (which included Microsoft's announced 5,000), they found that really only about 9,600 actual layoffs occurred. That's not a good thing, of course, but I do believe that an almost 4x overstatement counts as 'exaggeration'.

Where did those 'layoffs' go? Well, it turns out that the Wall Street Journal alluded to the real truth: "Microsoft to cut up to 5,000 jobs". And not immediately - over a three year period. In fact, many of those 'jobs' don't even exist at present, and for a 90,000 strong workforce, the planned 'cuts' are easily absorbed by normal attrition, turnover, and on-going restructuring.

So why might this distortion have occurred? Certainly these companies didn't want to exaggerate their reactions to economic effects? Why announce layoffs? The Infoworld article continues:


Because announced layoffs aren't actual layoffs. "It's smoke and mirrors," says Natalie Petouhoff, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, "to tell shareholders they're doing what they need to do." The announced numbers include vacant positions and planned positions, so eliminating them doesn't actually result in anyone fired.

[5] Ibid.


Did the market get the message? Look again at the second Wall Street Journal article. What a tribute to the robustness of the American economic model, indeed.


This is all very puzzling, if the mainstream media wasn't complicit in exaggerating anything. To clarify, I ask my opponent these Socratic Questions:

SQ2: Did the mainstream media, in distilling the facts of these layoffs into headlines, serve an agenda that exaggerated the actual economic facts?

SQ3: Does calling a 3-year workforce reduction plan a "deluge", and counting it as part of "60,000 jobs slashed on Monday", in any way constitute an exaggeration of intensity?

And to counter my opponent's contention that "numbers cannot be exaggerated":

SQ4: Is the number "9,600" exaggerated when it is stated as "35,000"?


 


Thank you 44ss, for what is turning out to be a very interesting debate! The floor is yours, my friend.



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 01:54 PM
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Rebuttal Section

My opponent states


I claimed no such thing. The point I made is that a headline, the smallest distillation of the 'inverted pyramid', is inherently an exaggeration, as it must drastically simplify facts presented later in the story, to the point where it very often either overstates or inaccurately portrays the facts.


Let’s compare this theory with one of my opponent’s own sources, the Wall Street Journal.
The headline states : “Microsoft to Cut Up to 5,000 Jobs”
The body of the text states : “Microsoft Corp. posted an unexpected 11% drop in quarterly profit and disclosed plans to slash 5,000 jobs…Microsoft shares tumbled 12% to their lowest level in a decade, leading a selloff in the broader stock market…”
Compare the use of the moderate, impartial word “cut” in the headline to the use of hyperbolic words such as “slash” and “tumble” in the body of the article. Which, if any, seems more “exaggerated” to you?

To me 5,000 people losing their jobs is a big event, and as such, words such as “slash” accurately convey the message that Microsoft has gone on a firing spree. It’s not hyperbole if it accurately conveys the scale of the event.
The headline’s purpose is to inform people of a breaking even in an impartial, factual manner. If headlines were used for hyperbolic purposes as my opponent claims, then would the WSJ not have chosen a bolder headline such as “Microsoft axes 5,000 in massive firing spree”?
My opponent also states


Is this an attempt to narrow the topic, and exclude the more sensationalist behavior of the mainstream media? If so, you might have chosen a more subtle term - I thought "top-flight" was a brand of golf ball.


This is an attempt to select only those media providers who fall under the category of MSM. In terms of viewership figures we can clearly draw a distinction between outlets such as Fox News, with daily viewership figures in the millions, compared to the New York Post with readership figures of about 600,000.

And just for the record, “Top Flite” is the brand of golf ball


For the next section, I shall just refer to each source by name rather than quoting it to avoid repetition.

1. The Wall Street Journal source : The source accurately reflects the situation of 5,000 job losses. I’ve analysed this above so I won’t repeat it here.

2. The LA Times source : Once again, the source accurately reveals and reflects the situation.

3. The LA Times source(2) : Yet again, the article accurately reflects the situation. I see no hint of hyperbole within the source. The article does admittedly have an agenda furthering position (in this case being advocacy for Obama’s spending proposals), but note that no element of hyperbole has been ascribed to the numbers. The number of job cuts at Microsoft is still reported at 5,000.

4. WSJ source(2) : My opponent doesn’t take into account two things. The first is that markets often rally when job cuts are announced. This is because investors want to hear that companies are taking proactive steps to cut down costs during tough times. The second is that the cuts had already been factored in. The stock market moves roughly 6-8 months ahead of the “real world”, and as such had already factored in a worsening of the economic climate.

5. Infoworld source: Ah source 5, the holy grail of my opponent’s argument. I can see what he was trying to do here… by posting several sources that all stated the same thing (5k job losses at Microsoft), and then attempting to undermine them all with a single source.

Unfortunately for my opponent, this tactic is about to backfire on him.

His own source states:

The announced numbers include vacant positions and planned positions, so eliminating them doesn't actually result in anyone fired. And the announced numbers include layoffs that may occur later on.


In terms of the economic implications, it does not matter whether the jobs axed were staffed at the time or not. The message that has to be conveyed either way is that the employment capacity of the company has decreased. The loss of that excess capacity means that the planned job, which would have been taken up by an unemployed person, cannot be created. In economic terms, this is just as bad as a person being fired.

My opponent also usefully highlights this extract:

…to tell shareholders they're doing what they need to do…



The first point to make is that we have to consider if indeed this constitutes hyperbole. Announcing 5,000 job cuts over 18 months is still significant, and still warrants a headline. However, I shall play along and agree with your claim that the details were sensationalized.

Who has the agenda here? Is it the media, or the company? Ms Petouhoff’s implication is that Microsoft sensationalized its own press release in order to forewarn shareholders of what they plan to do in the future. The MSM simply faithfully passed this information on to their audience.

Furthermore, my opponent stated:

Where did those 'layoffs' go? Well, it turns out that the Wall Street Journal alluded to the real truth: "Microsoft to cut up to 5,000 jobs". And not immediately - over a three year period. In fact, many of those 'jobs' don't even exist at present, and for a 90,000 strong workforce, the planned 'cuts' are easily absorbed by normal attrition, turnover and on-going restructuring.


My opponent’s own source (5) also states:

"Microsoft might be able to reduce headcount by that number in the next year and a half simply by not hiring in certain divisions," says Neil MacDonald, an analyst with Gartner.


Is this is the real message that my opponent was trying to get across- that job cuts are meaningless unless the result in a man carrying his possessions away from his desk in a cardboard box?

I would say that it really doesn’t matter whether a person is fired or a planned job scuppered. The end result of the prior is an unemployed man and the result of the latter is an unemployed university graduate.

Answers to Socratic questions

Q1 : Is creating "intense, hard-hitting news" important to mainstream media, especially those with daily or even hourly news-cycles?

A1 : Yes. All media outlets rely upon presenting information in its most engaging or interesting form. Does this include hyperbole? Possibly in some cases… but when the stories are big enough, embellishment is surely not needed/ not possible.

Q2 : Did the mainstream media, in distilling the facts of these layoffs into headlines, serve an agenda that exaggerated the actual economic facts?

A2 : No, the MSM merely reported in a factual manner the press release given to it by the companies involved.

Q3 : Does calling a 3-year workforce reduction plan a "deluge", and counting it as part of "60,000 jobs slashed on Monday", in any way constitute an exaggeration of intensity?

A3 : I believe this is an issue of semantics. If the job cuts are counted in the month or day that they are announced, then they cannot be counted later on.

Q4 : Is the number "9,600" exaggerated when it is stated as "35,000"?

A4 : Nope, it is either factually correct or incorrect based on your interpretation of the semantics surrounding the statistics.

Soulslayer’s First

In my first post, I will show you the relationship between economic indicators and the manner in which they were reported in the MSM.

Baltic Dry Index

Lets compare how the Mainstream Media dealt with the slump of the BDI:


Baltic Dry Index Drops Below 1,000 for First Time in Six Years

Source

I hope you would agree that this is a responsibly worded headline, which accurately and factually reports on the slump of the BDI.

How does a less mainstream version compare?


Baltic index sinks, shipping firms in troubled waters

Source

I hope you would agree that the MSM headline is considerably more factual and impartial.

Depending on your economic outlook, you could well argue that the MSM’s version significantly understates the scale and severity of the BDI’s slump. The index suffered, from peak to through, a 93% decline. Now doesn’t Bloomberg’s reporting seem to rather glaze over the steepness of the decline?


Layoffs

My opponent brought up some interesting issues surrounding layoffs in his first post, so it would be interesting to see how other instances of massive layoffs were treated by the MSM:


UPDATE 2-Pioneer to exit flat TV market, cut 10,000 jobs

Source



Hitachi to cut up to 7,000 jobs

Source


Sprint Nextel Cutting 8,000 Jobs to Fight Off Slump

Source

To me it seems quite clear. The MSM are reporting facts and figures, with a background analysis of what they mean. In my opinion, they have massively understated the issue- I will attempt to prove this in detail in my next post.

I shall finish with a few Socratic questions:

1. If a company provides a sensationalized version of accounts regarding its state of affairs, and the media outlet reproduces it, which entity is guilty of embellishment?
2. Do you consider the firing of an existing employee of lesser severity than the cessation of hiring new recruits?
3. Do you agree that the counting of layoffs is an issue of semantics?
4. If you wouldn’t count layoffs on a single day as pertaining to that day, then how would you count them? Would you amortise them over a period of time perhaps?

Thanks, back to you sir!



posted on Mar, 11 2009 @ 12:19 PM
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Excellent rhetoric, 44ss. You've certainly gone off in many different directions at once. That's made it a little difficult to compose this reply, because of the need to address so many of your individual inaccuracies and spin attempts, while balancing the further evidence I want to present in limited space. Well done!



The first is that markets often rally when job cuts are announced

The second is that the cuts had already been factored in. The stock market moves roughly 6-8 months ahead of the “real world”

Those are two contradictory statements, you know. And both ignore the agendas of exaggeration I've previously shown: exaggeration from corporations to position themselves as 'responsive' in the eyes of investors and the market, and exaggeration from the media, seeking to simplify events into a 'compelling narrative', potentially sacrificing objectivity and investigative reporting.


My opponent asks:


1. If a company provides a sensationalized version of accounts regarding its state of affairs, and the media outlet reproduces it, which entity is guilty of embellishment?

Both, although 'guilty' is a subjective judgment. Both have exaggerated, the company by its corporate spin, and the media by their knowing acceptance of that spin, a 'blind puppet' reporting of statements as fact, molded to fit within a convenient context that sways opinion and entices news consumers. The media's motive in this is obvious; they want to portray their news-product as important insight into larger trends.

One might ask, is this type of convenient parroting something the media is aware it practices? It would be very naive to think that it is not. Even the general public realizes that the media exaggerate and shoehorn 'facts' into the paradigm of the day:


More than half of all EU citizens (54%) are “doubtful” about the true extent of the global financial crisis, according to a Eurobarometer poll published today. Scepticism was highest among northern Europeans, with nearly two-thirds of Belgians (64%) and three-quarters of Swedes (76%) believing that the problems may have been exaggerated.
[1]



 



words such as “slash” accurately convey the message that Microsoft has gone on a firing spree

That wouldn't be an exaggeration, at all? Even though the 'firing spree' (and what an unexaggerated term that is) consists largely of a restructuring of future growth plans, rather than actual pink slips in actual people's hands, resulting in actual direct and immediate economic impact?

And that's what my opponent is ignoring, with his hand-waving of how changes in speculation about growth potential is the same as employees being booted to the curb. The issue is not only the exaggerated facts, but the exaggerated intensity.

Intensity is the measure of flux (change) over time. The quicker something happens, the more intense that change is.

Consider the psychological connotations of the term "slash". Is a "slash" something that occurs slowly, over a long period of time? No. It is an intense action, a fast, frightful change.

That's the image that's being sold to the public, because the public reacts to such sensationalism. And, of course, if a media outlet has something that the public is drawn to consider dangerously threatening and important, well, that's certainly 'worth something', and 'useful', is it not?



2. Do you consider the firing of an existing employee of lesser severity than the cessation of hiring new recruits?

No. The economic impact is different, and treating the two things as equivalent is disingenuous. When used to sensationalize, it's a form of exaggeration.



3. Do you agree that the counting of layoffs is an issue of semantics?

No. Semantics is the study of meaning in communication, not economics.



4. If you wouldn’t count layoffs on a single day as pertaining to that day, then how would you count them? Would you amortise them over a period of time perhaps?

I would count layoff that actually occur on a single day as layoffs that actually occur on a single day, and I would count changes in long-term plans that may affect prior projections of job creation as a separate fact. Although a common ground for specific economic impact analysis of the two figures might be found, they are not the same thing, and lumping them together and calling them "slashes" or part of a "one-day crisis" is clearly an exaggeration.


 



This is an attempt to select only those media providers who fall under the category of MSM. In terms of viewership figures we can clearly draw a distinction between outlets such as Fox News, with daily viewership figures in the millions, compared to the New York Post with readership figures of about 600,000.

While that is true, I think there is more insight to be gained by considering how 'mainstream' a news source is as a variable quantity. Certainly, there are outlets that are definitely mainstream, as you mention. But I don't believe there is a particular cut-off point, a threshold at which a news source suddenly goes from mainstream to niche. Instead, it's a gradient. For purposes of clarity, I'll focus this discussion on the definite mainstream sources, but let's not lose sight of the relationships that can be shown, between the varying breadth of audience of a news organization and influences on its behavior.



The LA Times source : Once again, the source accurately reveals and reflects the situation.
The LA Times source(2) : Yet again, the article accurately reflects the situation.

I will remind my opponent that the topic is the headlines and accuracy of the summaries that were provided, not whether or not the entire articles in question managed to completely regurgitate the content gleaned from various corporate press releases.



All media outlets rely upon presenting information in its most engaging or interesting form.

Thank you.


 


The issue my opponent has avoided, with discussion of "Baltic Dry Index" and such (and by the way, I didn't really see much difference in the two headlines he mentioned), is this question: What is the purpose of the news media?

The simplistic answer is "to inform the public", but that certainly doesn't give very much insight into the actual behavior and structure of the news systems of 'the developed world'.

A more nuanced answer is "to manufacture consent". As Noam Chomsky put it:


The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society.
[2]


That certainly helps explain the puzzle we've been talking about: how can the media accurately portray the truth, and why does it so often exaggerate when it attempts to do so? The answer is: the media doesn't portray 'the truth'. On a more philosophical level, truth and relevant models of important events are subjective to individuals, but with commonalities within various groups and scopes of population.

It is those commonalities that the media works with, and in fact helps create. This is their primary function.

The tapestry of public opinion and world-view is rich and varied. Indeed, if it were not, cultural homogeneity would quickly lead to stagnation. The role of the media is to establish the framework of communication for the various 'threads' of perception that can be related to people's real-life experiences. It gives context and variety in which the public can express and cooperate.

This is why we see such polarization of viewpoints, spearheaded by the media. It's product is diverse generalizations, an array of exaggerated and encompassing systems of "ways to look at the world". Individual news consumers may pick and choose which provided context they wish to cast their judgments of "importance" within, and the media actively redefines and creates those contexts in a dynamic ongoing process. At its broadest scope of simplification, this context is simply known as "the narrative of world events".

And that is why the media is so driven to exaggerate and intensify events: the quicker the context can be changed and recast, the more compelling the narrative.


 


Today, the narrative has moved, suddenly, to a direction that those less dependent on the media to form their thoughts have seen indication of for years: we are now in a "world-wide crisis". And is the media part of the process of that "crisis"? I leave you to consider the following:


In a recent survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, 91% of CEOs blame the breadth and depth of the current economic situation on the media.

"The media's manipulation of statistics, negativity, exaggeration, and doomsday forecasts have driven fear and panic among consumers and businesses alike," says David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan.

Economic statistics are often twisted and exaggerated. The fear of total economic collapse is perpetuated in the media to grab attention and sell more copies or attract more viewers or listeners.
[3]



 


In my next reply, let's look even closer, and see even larger. The functions of the media, economy, and politics are connected, and we must ask how and why.

Thank you; the floor is yours, my esteemed opponent.



posted on Mar, 11 2009 @ 02:32 PM
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I thank my opponent for his rebuttals and statements. This is indeed turning out to be a most enjoyable bout.
Rebuttal Section
My opponent states:
[Quote] Both, although 'guilty' is a subjective judgment. Both have exaggerated, the company by its corporate spin, and the media by their knowing acceptance of that spin, a 'blind puppet' reporting of statements as fact, molded to fit within a convenient context that sways opinion and entices news consumers. The media's motive in this is obvious; they want to portray their news-product as important insight into larger trends.[/Quote]
An interesting position indeed, and one that merits closer inspection. My opponent states that both are to blame for the “distorted” figures. Such a position needs requires a secondary distortion (by the media) beyond the original one by the company. If person A fabricates a lie to person B, and person B passes the lie on to person C- who can we say the lie originates with?
The title of the debate is "The Main Stream Media Is Exaggerating The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines."
Does this not explicitly require the media to engage in the process of exaggeration? Merely passing on an exaggerated claim, even in full knowledge that it is exaggerated (though I don’t believe that is the case), does not tally with the active verb form “is exaggerating”.
My opponent states


The issue is not only the exaggerated facts, but the exaggerated intensity.


Surely sir, it is one or the other in the case that you provided. Facts cannot be exaggerated. The 5,000 number remains at 5,000. The intensity may have been obscured, but it certainly wasn’t exaggerated.

I would refer back to the definition of exaggeration :


1. To represent as greater than is actually the case; overstate: exaggerate the size of the enemy force; exaggerated his own role in the episode.
2. To enlarge or increase to an abnormal degree: thick lenses that exaggerated the size of her eyes.


An intensification is not the same as exaggeration. Exaggeration would have been a seed overstatement in the figures- such as claiming that 20% of the workforce was sacked when only 11% were.

Microsoft presented in a manner which, to some, may have appeared obscure and simplified. Yet there’s no evidence that the media added “fuel to the fire”, or that they were even aware of the “fire”.


I would count layoff that actually occur on a single day as layoffs that actually occur on a single day, and I would count changes in long-term plans that may affect prior projections of job creation as a separate fact. Although a common ground for specific economic impact analysis of the two figures might be found, they are not the same thing, and lumping them together and calling them "slashes" or part of a "one-day crisis” is clearly an exaggeration.


Clearly fitting all that information into a headline is impossible- due to the nature of the inverted pyramid approach. A headline must be pithy and informative at the same time. A headline which states “5,000 jobs cut at Microsoft” is not exaggerating- it is a distillation of the factual information that needs to be disseminated. Within the body of the article, more details are given about the timings involved with the cuts etc.


44 soulslayer said: “All media outlets rely upon presenting information in its most engaging or interesting form.”


My opponent replied

Thank you


Nice try
My statement is not the same as saying “All media outlets rely upon distorting facts, exaggerating stories and senationalising them to entice viewers”. Presenting information in its most engaging form is not the same as distorting information to make it more interesting.

I thank my opponent for his soulful soliloquy considering Chomsky. I’m not sure if I ought to respond, because I think the strand of discussion of rather moving away from the topic. This debate isn’t about media’s role in society, or even what the media is capable of. My opponent must prove that the media is actively exaggerating economic events, rather than what it is capable of, or prone to.

Nonetheless, here’s another "gem" from Chomsky:


… the "societal purpose" of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social, and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state. The media serve this purpose in many ways: through selection of topics, distribution of concerns, framing of issues, filtering of information, emphasis and tone, and by keeping debate within the bounds of acceptable premises…


Notice how Chomsky phrases his claims. He states that the media “frames issues”, selects the “emphasis and tone” of the story and “filters information”. You the reader must ask yourself whether this is fundamentally the same as exaggeration, bearing in mind the true definition of exaggeration.

Soulslayer’s Second

For my second post I shall consider the historical significance of the current economic crisis, namely landmark and watershed events, and the manner in which they were reported in the main stream media.

Bear Stearns Collapse

Bear Stearns was an 80 year old investment bank with 11,000 employees. They oversaw $13.4 trillion dollars in collateralized debt and financial derivatives. The company itself owned almost $400bn in assets. In short : the fifth largest investment bank in the world. In March 2008, Bear Stearns collapsed and had to be rescued by JP Morgan. This was the first major event in the financial industry.
How did the media report this?

J.P. Morgan Buys Bear in Fire Sale, As Fed Widens Credit to Avert Crisis
Ailing Firm Sold For Just $2 a Share In U.S.-Backed Deal

Source
Observe how level headed, calm and factual the headline is. There isn’t a slightest hint of exaggeration, nor a shred of sensationalism. In my mind there is no doubt that the MSM did not exaggerate the situation in any way. If anything, they understated the extent of the crisis. Bear Stearns should have been a massive wakeup call for all of us, but the muted media reaction did not educate readers enough.

The collapse of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
FRE and FNM are massive quasi-governmental companies that are responsible for the bulk of America’s mortgage market. Prior to September 2008, they privately oversaw about $4 trillion in mortgage securities. It’s hard to say just exactly how big these companies were.
In Sept 08, they were both on the brink of collapse. The Federal government had to step in to bail them out.
How did the media report this?

In Rescue to Stabilize Lending, U.S. Takes Over Mortgage Finance Titans

Source
Once again, a highly understated headline from the New York Times. The headline fails to show the scope and severity of the near collapse of FRE and FNM. The paper states, in a calm and matter of fact tone, that the US gov’t has had to step in to take over the companies. The use of the word “titans” is the only element of flourish in the entire sentence. Was that perhaps an exaggeration? As of 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed half of the US’ $12 trillion mortgage market. I hope you would agree that if ever titans have existed, surely FRE and FNM count amongst them.
15th September and the collapse of Lehman Brothers
There is no easy way to summarise the events of the 15th of September 2008. I shall quote myself, from another post I made on ATS at the time:

In a single, historic day, Lehman Brothers have filed for Chapter 11; Merrill Lynch is poised to be acquired by BoA; AIG seeks $40bn emergency Fed funding. The fourth and third biggest investment banks are thus bust. Only JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs stand.

I’m afraid I don’t have enough space left to provide a background history of each company, but I trust that these were household names to all. Lehman Brothers, a 150 year old company employing over 25,000 people and overseeing yet more trillions of dollars in assets filed Chapter 11 in the biggest corporate bankruptcy in the history of the world. Is it even possible for a newspaper to exaggerate such an event?
Lets take a look at how the papers reported the events:

Lehman folds with record $613 billion debt
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Lehman Brothers Holdings is closing its doors with more than $600 billion of debt -- the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Source
I see no hint of exaggeration in that headline. The headline states the facts and figures associated with the company’s demise. While at first glance “the biggest bankruptcy in US history” seems like exaggeration, it plainly cannot be considered so when it is a real fact.

Bank of America buys Merrill - $50 billion

Source

The neatest example yet of how the media reports on events in the financial crisis! The demise of the fourth largest investment bank in the world barely gets 7 words. There’s no gloss, spin or hyperbole. There’s no exaggeration, nor trace of sensationalism.
Why is this the case? When the stories are big enough, there is no need for sensationalism.

When the media needs to sell the story of some Z-list celebrity, they need to exaggerate events to captivate their audience.
When a gigantic investment bank fails, or when a terrorist attack occurs, no sensationalism is needed and equally none tendered by the media.

Many thanks, and I return the floor to my honourable opponent.



posted on Mar, 12 2009 @ 02:31 PM
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Thank you my friend, this is certainly great fun!


Third Reply

My opponent is missing the fact that I am not arguing that the media always exaggerate. They also ignore, distort, and occasionally - gasp - report factually. One can certainly find finely-targeted news stories that show a respectable level of objectivity in discussing specific events.

My contention is, however, that it is a basic function of the media to attempt to fit multiple individual events into a compelling paradigm. To do this inherently requires simplification and exaggeration.

Let's look at how the media attempted to do that, with regards to the more soberly penned news stories regarding Lehman, Merrill, Fannie and Freddy that my opponent has managed to find:


CNN’s online Business section offered headlines such as “The end of Wall Street”, “Wall Street on red alert” and “The meltdown”.

[1] Ross Lawrence, "Financial free fall"

Certainly evocative, and one might even argue that the facts could support such alarming viewpoints. But come on - "The end of Wall Street"? I would call that a definite exaggeration. But it certainly set the 'tone' of the media cycle.



When the stories are big enough, there is no need for sensationalism.

SQ1: Would a story headlined "The End of Wall Street" be 'bigger' than one describing the details of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy?



Facts cannot be exaggerated

The issue is selection of facts, and the context that is given to their rephrasing and interpretation. That's what headlines do. If you choose only biased sources for your news story, and don't perform objective investigative reporting, for purposes of creating compelling and simplified generalizations, then you are exaggerating certain sources and neglecting others. That's bad reporting.

PR press releases are 40-70% of news content.


 


My opponent quibbles:


If person A fabricates a lie to person B, and person B passes the lie on to person C- who can we say the lie originates with?

Exaggeration would have been a seed overstatement in the figures- such as claiming that 20% of the workforce was sacked when only 11% were.

Look, if you think the media lied, just call a lie a lie, okay? Exaggeration happens when you take facts and generate hyperbole from them. We've all listened to politicians enough that we realize what a gray area the distinction can be.



A headline which states “5,000 jobs cut at Microsoft” is not exaggerating

Still trying to refute that point, huh? The verb phrasing of that headline implies a fait accompli. How about this:

SQ2: Given the facts, would the headline "Microsoft changes plans, announces layoffs" be more accurate and less exaggerated than "5,000 jobs cut at Microsoft"?


 


The fact is, media has quite simply become "part of the system". If we look more broadly at how media-created conceptualizations influence our society, certain facts are immediately obvious:


* The fact that all centers of power today rely on media and that all use sensory manipulations and simulations, along with story lines, rhetoric, and performances to sell audiences products, candidates and ideas.
* The fact that most media, today, from news to advertising, rely on spectacle, simplification and exaggeration to grab and hold audiences.
* The fact that the news media has become a part of the power and economic system that it is supposed to report on.

[2] Ken Sanes, "Principles of Media Criticism"


Yet my opponent claims:


This debate isn’t about media’s role in society, or even what the media is capable of.

Wrong. The topic is what the topic is, of course, but we must look at why the media behaves as it does. The media has become a tool. It's been that way for decades, and longer - "Remember The Maine!"

My dear opponent, perhaps you think that the current exaggeration about "world-wide meltdown" is an isolated incident? Do you think that the media in any way exaggerated the stability of the economy, before September 2008, ignoring facts and warning signs? Of course they did! Read this MarketWatch article:


We know for the last eight years disaster capitalists ignored obvious warnings of a coming meltdown. They apparently planned it.

[3] Paul Farrel, "Wall Street's 'Disaster Capitalism for Dummies'"


The media well know their place, and their role in the system via which public consent is manufactured and things "get done". To a great extent, their access to content sources is contingent upon "playing within the system", portraying the right messages, and making money doing it. What could possibly be motivating the current push to public panic, through an exaggeration of 'crisis'? The Wall Street Journal knows:


"If you would like an empirical law of government behavior, it is that in a panic or threatened financial collapse, governments intervene -- every government, every party, every country, every time."

[4] Michael Phillips, "Government Bailouts: A U.S. Tradition Dating to Hamilton"


Media message is an intrinsic part of the process of cementing motivational acceptance in the public mind. It acts as an amplifier:


Economic amplifiers are the active components of economic engineering. The basic characteristic of any amplifier (mechanical, electrical, or economic) is that it receives an input control signal and delivers energy from an independent energy source to a specified output terminal in a predictable relationship to that input control signal.

The simplest form of an economic amplifier is a device called advertising.

[5] "Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars"


Here is an interesting question to ask: who are the media's customers? You might notice that virtually every major news source is now available online, for free. How does the media make money that way?

The answer is: the headlines and stories that the media create are not their true product. You, the news-consumer, are their true product. Media outlets exist to create consistent categorizations of ideology within their target audience. The fact of those categorizations is valuable, because it allows for predictable manipulation. Manipulation is performed by politicians, corporations, capitalists, advertisers - those with agendas.

The job of the media as 'serving the public' is secondary.

The primary job of the media is to serve up the public.


 


I leave this reply with the following tidbit, because I am interested in seeing how my opponent might try to spin his response.

We all heard the exaggerations from the media several years ago, about how the Social Security system in the United States was "in crisis". The intense focus on the problem ignored the fact that the "crisis" was, in fact, based on 30-50 year projections.

The US debt has been portrayed as 'spiraling out of control', beyond all previous measure. While government spending certainly has increased, and in my opinion has always been too large, how does my opponent explain the following graph?




SQ3: What is the contrast between the information in this graph, and the intensity of the government debt crisis as portrayed by the media?


 


Thank you 44soulslayer! I eagerly await your final reply.



posted on Mar, 13 2009 @ 06:45 AM
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Rebuttal Section

My opponent states

My opponent is missing the fact that I am not arguing that the media always exaggerate.


I’m sorry if I have misunderstood my opponent’s argument, but he certainly seemed to be implying that. For example, my opponent stated in his opening statement:


These obvious corollaries to the very nature of media reporting prove my case: to create headlines, the mainstream media must exaggerate.


My opponent also makes an interesting find of examples of headlines which, upon superficial examination, appear to be exaggerated. In particular my opponent takes offence to


But come on - "The end of Wall Street"? I would call that a definite exaggeration.


I’ll even help my opponent out by posting a direct link to the WSJ article in question, rather than utilize the second hand source. I do this freely because I think it supports my case, and that the headline is justified and qualified by the content of the article. Once again, the story was big enough to match the headline.


The End of Wall Street

Source
If you read the article, I’m sure you will understand why proclaiming the end of Wall Street is not exaggeration, but fact. Of particular interest is the following passages from the article :

"The world had changed," said the Morgan Stanley spokesperson yesterday, and you can mark that down as the understatement of the year.
She was explaining the company's decision late Sunday night to convert back into a bank holding company some 75 years after the Glass-Steagall act sundered the House of Morgan into J.P. Morgan, the bank, and Morgan Stanley, the investment firm. Under pressure from the Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs made the same choice this weekend.


“Six months ago there were five major investment banks. Two -- Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns -- have failed, Merrill Lynch is selling itself to Bank of America, and now the last two are becoming commercial”
Wall Street’s historic character has been obliterated within a year. Technically speaking, none of the investment banks exist any more. The headline is thus warranted, accurate and evocative all at the same time.

My opponent states (regarding job cuts at Microsoft)

Still trying to refute that point, huh? The verb phrasing of that headline implies a fait accompli.

I think we’ve both made a mistake here. The original headline was “Microsoft to cut up to 5,000 jobs”. I’ve been misquoting that headline, and ironically exaggerating it by using poor grammar!

My opponent then begins to examine the broad background of the media and its character once more. I don’t blame him for this, because every time he tries to highlight a specific example of the media “exaggerating” headlines, it turns out that said headline can be justified with facts. Nonetheless my opponent states

My dear opponent, perhaps you think that the current exaggeration about "world-wide meltdown" is an isolated incident? Do you think that the media in any way exaggerated the stability of the economy, before September 2008, ignoring facts and warning signs?

Quite the opposite kind sir. I think that the media are prone to exaggeration in almost all other stories. I believe the media exaggerates on a routine, habitual basis. Additionally I believe that the media does this in order to create audience interest over insignificant stories, as these are the ones which require the most embellishment.
Let us look back at the major events of the past decade.
9/11
The Asian Boxing Day Tsunami
The Iraq War
The Financial Crisis
Can anyone remember a single example of the media exaggerating these stories? I think not.
Compare that against the insignificant stories that you hear every day- the ones about the divorce of a celebrity, the story of one celebrity abusing another, politics on Capitol Hill etc.

The weakest stories are those that most need embellishment. The financial crisis is an issue so big, with stories so compelling that they need no gloss, nor spin, nor hyperbole. No exaggeration.
I disagree with my opponent that the media exaggerated the stability of the financial system prior to the crash. Failing to report instability is not the same thing as actively disinforming people by claiming that the system is more stable than it really is.

In response to my opponent’s graph, I would have to say :
1. My opponent attempts to show the current level of debt as relatively insignificant as compared to the levels of the 40s and 50s. However he fails to consider that the 40s and 50s bore the brunt of World War 2. WW2 was a unique event, and the economic data surrounding it cannot be used as a benchmark against the current deficit.
2. The value for nominal debt has crept up steadily to $11 trillion.

Answers to Socratic questions
SQ1: Would a story headlined "The End of Wall Street" be 'bigger' than one describing the details of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy?
A1: Yes it would. However as I showed in my last post, the events at the time (15th Oct) were more significant than merely Lehmans. Lehmans was the trigger, the result was the downfall of Wall Street.
SQ2: Given the facts, would the headline "Microsoft changes plans, announces layoffs" be more accurate and less exaggerated than "5,000 jobs cut at Microsoft”?
A2 : The first thing we have to consider is that “5,000 jobs cut at Microsoft” wasn’t the real headline, it was my inaccurate paraphrasing of “Microsoft to cut up to 5,000 jobs”. I apologise for that misdirection. However your suggestion would be more generic and vague as it doesn’t include a sense of scale.
SQ3: What is the contrast between the information in this graph, and the intensity of the government debt crisis as portrayed by the media?
A3 : The contrast is largely that the graph presents the information using debt as a fraction of GDP whereas the media consider the debt as a nominal value.

Soulslayer’s Third
Perhaps no media stories are as evocative and subjective as human interest stories. Some of the most powerful stories surrounding the current economic crisis are those of soup kitchens overcrowded by the middle class; IT professionals living in their cars at campsites; bread lines that stretch longer and tent cities that pop up overnight. The human face of the crisis is the most vulnerable to exaggeration. So did the media take their chance and run such stories in a hyperbolic manner? Let’s take a look.

Soup Kitchens


America faces new Depression misery as financial crisis worsens

Source
Can stories such as this be classed as hyperbole? The story focuses on the facts and figures surrounding the expanding tent city, such as
There are more than 300 people living in scattered encampments stretching a couple of miles along the river bank. As many as 50 more arrive each week. Unemployment in Sacramento reached 10.4 per cent in January and California is suffering some of the worst repossession rates in the country, with as many as 500 people losing their homes every day last year.
Sister Libby estimates that out of a population of 500,000 in Sacramento, there are 2,000 homeless in shelters across the city and another 2,000 living on the streets or in tent cities.
How can such a rational article use the phrase “new depression”- which suggests a return to the conditions of the early 1930s. The easy answer is to state that it’s hyperbole and scaremongering. However the media could have achieved this goal much more efficiently by obscuring the scale of the problem (ie not mentioning that only 2,000 out of half a million people live on the streets or in tent cities).
Is it hyperbole to draw parallels between the modern condition of people in tent cities and those of times during the Great Depression, or is it an accurate and valid comparison?

Bread Lines
I’m sure we all read the ATS thread about bread lines forming in California. Was that exaggeration and scaremongering too?

Bread Lines Seen in California

www.myfoxatlanta.com...

Where is the exaggeration in this story? The media accurately reports back that a bread line has formed outside the Salvation Army centre. The media isn’t scaremongering when it reports stories such as these, it is giving a valid warning of what can be expected in the future on a routine basis.
Alternatively, some media outlets chose to run stories on experts’ opinions that bread lines would not become routine.

Source

The media doesn’t exist solely to sensationalise. The media had a prime chance to claim that we were all doomed, that we would live in tents and eat at soup kitchens. Yet they offered no such prophetic doomsday message.

Many thanks to you all, and I return the floor to my esteemed opponent for his closing statement.

Mod Edit: To remove in excess of 10 external sentences allotted.

[edit on Fri, 13 Mar 2009 11:09:34 -0500 by MemoryShock]



posted on Mar, 13 2009 @ 06:56 AM
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Thank you sir; I will at this time declare the possibility of using my 24-hour extension. I may post sooner, however, depending on how much stuff I can get done today.



posted on Mar, 15 2009 @ 06:31 AM
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Once again, thank you 44soulslayer for an exciting and interesting debate, about what could have become a rather dry subject. And many thanks to Semperfortis for moderating, the judges for volunteering their time, and everyone for their participation of attention.


I'll begin this reply with a brief rebuttal, followed by my closing statement.


 


My opponent has brought forth 'evidence' of media reporting of lines at food charities, and homeless 'tent cities', as supportive of his case. In fact, he is exaggerating the intensity of the causal connection, as do the articles that he cited. Yes, bad things occur, and are occurring. But the claim that these events are some urgently new unique indicator, as both articles seem to emphasize, is flatly incorrect. I seem to remember reading on ATS, almost a year ago, about displaced families setting up ad-hoc tent cities. The source was an AP article. And yet, the article my opponent cited ignores that this has been occurring for some time, instead choosing to portray the problem as new, sudden, and a direct result of recent current events in the abstract financial markets. Exaggeration of intensity.

Here's a warming story, about lines reaching around the block for charity food given out by the Salvation Army, in the wake of hurricane Ike.
www.dispatch.com...

Did these unfortunate people know that the charity they received was somehow evidence of a new Great Depression, as the Fox news article my opponent cited implied we should consider?


My opponent notes:


"headlines which, upon superficial examination, appear to be exaggerated"

As if that's some sort of contradiction of my case. Headlines are superficially examined, by definition, and how they 'appear' is the message they send. Few people venture past the first few layers of the 'inverted pyramid', and the story the mainstream media creates - knowingly - is constructed largely of exactly the headlines and simplifications my opponent would cast as irrelevant.



[citation of Wall Street Journal "The End of Wall Street" article]

Actually, if you look at the source I quoted, the "End Of Wall Street" article that I was referring to was from CNN Business News:
money.cnn.com...

Which, again, is discussing turmoil in the derivatives market, and the drastic impact upon firms that specialize in such. As this is a closing statement, I cannot ask my opponent the obvious Socratic Question: does he think that capitalism, and the corresponding icon of Wall Street, is entirely represented by the speculative failures and shenanigans of these specific firms? Has the actual business of market capitalism, based on fundamentals and solid metrics of first-order capital flow, been entirely forgotten?

And such a surprise, that the apocalyptic headline "The End Of Wall Street", should be applied to multiple articles within two days of each other. Quite indicative of an intense frenzy of exaggeration, wouldn't you say?



the result was the downfall of Wall Street

Again, exaggeration and simplification. Business on Wall Street is still occurring, the day to day procedure almost completely unchanged. In his own rhetoric, my opponent confirms: simplifications exaggerate.



every time he tries to highlight a specific example of the media “exaggerating” headlines, it turns out that said headline can be justified with facts.

Facts either buried deep in the article, where they're most often ignored, or facts requiring a level of research that the general public does not engage in. Nor should they - if that were a requirement, as it seems to be, it sort of undermines the entire raison d'etre of the mainstream media, doesn't it?

And again I point out the clouding of the issue that my opponent is engaged in: the fuzzing of the distinction between "exaggeration" and "lies". Have we become so inundated by spin and distraction in this modern world, that we can no longer declare the difference?



9/11 The Asian Boxing Day Tsunami The Iraq War The Financial Crisis
Can anyone remember a single example of the media exaggerating these stories?

Um, yes. Many. Does exaggerating the facts and spinning a story mean that it's not a big story? No. It simply means that the perception is the story is being skewed, as is the case, for example, if the intensity of a danger, conflict, or crisis is exaggerated.



Failing to report instability is not the same thing as actively disinforming people by claiming that the system is more stable than it really is.

Yes it is, and especially when it is done knowingly, and ignores a responsibility that the media, by their own proclaimed ideology of "serving the public", has assumed to represent. A deliberate marginalization of those who tried to point out the roots of these problems years ago occurred, and to this day the mainstream media blindly ignores that fact, instead proclaiming these problems a sudden, unforeseeable occurrence. They would have us forget history, and instead focus solely on the intensity of 'now'.



WW2 was a unique event

Every event in history is a 'unique event', by that perspective. I will point out the irony of referring to World War Two as a completely unique event. As for economic impact, I believe the costs of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exceeded the costs of WWII. That happened several years ago; it's not new news.


 


Closing Statement

"The Main Stream Media Is Exaggerating The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines."

Ladies and gentlemen, as I described in my opening statement, the logical proof of my case is quite simple to understand. The very nature of a 'headline' is an inexact model, which exaggerates or otherwise distorts. The obvious motivation of mainstream media is to create headlines which are compelling to the reader, and create a sense of urgent need for their news-product. My opponent acknowledges this:


"I believe the media exaggerates on a routine, habitual basis."

But would somehow have us believe that this is an unconscious, incidental effect, despite his admission that news editors actively decide what news they consider is 'important' to cover.

My opponent's claims that this effect is counter-balanced by inclusion of more accurate statements, far later in the news-presentations, is hollow: my very first source that I quoted acknowledges that mainstream media is well aware that the majority of readers' attention and perception is shaped by headlines and opening summaries.

The vast majority of headlines are phrased in the "active voice", as my opponent mentions. The news is portrayed as happening 'immediately', which exaggerates the intensity of the reader's need to know. That's compelling, and 'in the now'.

My opponent would like to claim that 'big stories' do not need exaggeration. That ignores not only the specific examples I have given, but the fact that what is a 'big story' is, in fact, also an editorial decision. The 'memory hole' of the mainstream media, where events are ignored and the past is forgotten, until something is suddenly a 'big story', is both intrinsic and actively encouraged by the media. It allows a false intensity, and makes for 'bigger news'.

Amusingly, my opponent claims, by logic of some sort, the concession that yes, the media does deliberately exaggerate and intensify, but somehow the facts of the current economic news are excluded from this practice. Various stories are cherry-picked and given, to advance his implication that all economic reporting of today is unbiased and objective. That is clearly a fallacy, and I have shown that current economic reporting is in fact an excellent source of examples of the types of mainstream media hyperbole that prove my case.

Beyond these obvious facts, which are conclusive enough, I have attempted to describe in more detail the broader picture: the dependent relationship between media and sources, the role of media as a business in a corporate ecology, the use of exaggerations of media as a political and economic tool.

By focusing on small examples to support narrow points, my opponent has ignored these issues. The picture he would paint, of an altruistic media focused primarily on service to the public, does not fit within any larger scope of observed effects. Although he admits that media is a business, and is perhaps somewhat influenced by that fact, there is a thundering silence from my opponent as to the implications of the active consequences of that.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is by no means my intention to sully the entire profession of journalism. There are, indeed, many good reporters, with principled objectivity, struggling to practice their craft to the public benefit. The converse also exists, however, and it is my deep concern that the structure of the mainstream media that has evolved in our modern world in fact encourages and biases against objective journalism that serves the public's true best interests.

We are faced with a 'who watches the watchmen' scenario. Who will shine the light of fair skepticism upon the media? In recent times, the closest I have seen to that happening is from a comedy venue. That is sadly telling, but highlights the point: the public is aware, ready, and prepared to be uprightly honest. Subtle agendas, false intensities of focus, exaggeration and deceit will no longer be tolerated. That is the news that we, the public, ourselves, have for the corporate media conglomerates. An unexaggerated headline: "We're Watching; And We Know".

Thank you.



posted on Mar, 15 2009 @ 09:30 AM
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I'll need to request the 24h extension please. I'll be posting my closing statement at some point tomorrow.



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 06:12 AM
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I’d like to begin by thanking Semper, the judges and the readers of this debate for their time, interest and support. This debate has really taught me a couple of new facets of rhetoric and logic, which I was ignorant of before the debate started. For that, I thank Ian wholeheartedly.

In my closing statement, I will summarise my entire side of the argument.

Closing Statement

The issue stood before us:

"The Main Stream Media Is Exaggerating The Intensity Of The Current Economic Status To Create Headlines."

Throughout this debate I have shown you numerous examples of how the media has reported on significant financial events in an accurate, unexaggerated manner. I highlighted how the media deals with numbers, and refuted my opponent’s claims that the media can exaggerate facts. My opponent did not do this. He failed to bring specific examples of media exaggeration to the table, because each time he did, the degree of “exaggeration” was shown to be nil.

My opponent and I have taken fundamentally different approaches to examining the issue that stands here today. My opponent has approached it theoretically, and claims that the media must be exaggerating the economic crisis, since that is their standard modus operandi. I have approached it pragmatically, and examined whether or not the media has actually exaggerated the crisis. The decision as to which approach better suits the debate topic rests with you.

I showed you how the biggest stories (Lehmans, Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s collapse) were reported by the media. I claimed that since the stories were big enough, there was no need for the media to exaggerate them. There is no benefit to readership numbers, nor advancement to their vested interest groups from exaggerating already huge stories. I asked is exaggeration even possible when the stories are big enough?

My opponent claimed exaggeration is possible and was rife during major events such as those mentioned above. Yet he offered no substantial evidence. The one headline he offered (The End of Wall Street), was warranted by the nature of every one of the big 5 investment banks either going bust or giving up their investment banking status (i.e. the end of investment banking on Wall Street).

Finally I showed you how the media is not capitalising on human interest stories to their full potential. I showed you how the media could easily have used bread lines, soup kitchens and tent cities as an example of impending Armageddon, yet did not.


Most of us loathe Murdoch et al. Most of us can’t stomach the mainstream media and their political agendas. Yet when every major event of history occurs, where were we? When the terrorists struck on 9/11, where were we? When Lehman’s bankruptcy was announced, where were we? When the DOW plunged 800 points in a single day, where were we? I’d bet my hat that you were all in front of a television or radio, listening intently to news sources that my opponent claims are biased. Why would you do such a thing- are you all morons? Or did you all subtly realise that media cannot exaggerate the stories, as the events are so great in magnitude that exaggeration would only serve to weaken the impact.


The great strength, purpose and privilege of the media is the ability to deliver accurate breaking information- the first rough draft of history. It is a position prone to abuse most of the time, as exaggeration and bias taints mundane stories. But there are times, few and far between, when the entire world stops what it is doing and stares intently at media’s reports. Events of such proportions represent a departure from business as usual not only for the world, but also for the media. If knowledge is light, then most of the time it is blocked by the machinations of the media system. If knowledge is light, then rarely, very rarely it shines so bright that no obstacle may dare to block it.



posted on Mar, 20 2009 @ 05:54 PM
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Off To The Judges



posted on Apr, 2 2009 @ 05:19 PM
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44soulslayer has won through split decision and will advance to the Third Round.



Judgment: Round 2: Ian McLean vs 44soulslayer: "Here Ye! Here Ye!, Read All About It!"

This was a tough debate to judge, as both fighters did an excellent job on presenting their arguments. However, there can only be one victor, and that is 44soulslayer.

Opening Statement:

Ian McLean:
Attempts to paint the MSM as taking creative license regarding all news stories.


This is a creative processes, as any journalism professor will tell you, with only occasional nods and glimmers of 'objectivity' involved.


Any journalism professor… Really? The vast majority of respected journalists in the MSM follow a code of ethics. Taking creative license with the facts of any news story is vastly frowned upon and generally results in the journalist’s loss of credibility and professional integrity, both within the eyes of his profession and the general public which he endeavors to serve without bias or reservation. Stephen Glass is a prime example.

While Ian puts forth an interesting, nay – entertaining premise, it is flawed at best.

44soulslayer:
Takes the time to closely scrutinize what constitutes MSM. In the process, he waylays Ian’s misconstrued concept of the inverted pyramid structure in news reporting and brings it back into proper perspective.

Also, he has done a tremendous job of setting the parameters of the debate in a different and altogether more realistic light then Ian.

The Opening Statement goes to 44soulslayer.

Reply 1:

Ian McLean:
He seems to be on the defensive right off the bat. Attempts to narrow debate strictly upon print publication headlines.



The point I made is that a headline, the smallest distillation of the 'inverted pyramid', is inherently an exaggeration, as it must drastically simplify facts presented later in the story, to the point where it very often either overstates or inaccurately portrays the facts.


While I find this definition to be over simplistic, I will admit that it is a clever ploy to better bolster his stance. Nice move.


Also, brings up the fact that different news programs/publications may serve vastly different target audiences from generalized to highly specific. Furthermore, conspiracy theorists love the word agenda, especially when paired with MSM as it often equated as tainted.


He does an excellent job of comparing multiple viewpoints of job losses in the tech sector. By contrasting the actual headlines for two specific MSM publications we are able to discern the subtle spin placed by each paper. Also, introducing the analysis of a non-MSM industry publication brings a more nuanced perspective to this particular event.

44soulslayer:
Whoa! What do we have here?!?

It appears that 44soulslayer has outmaneuvered Ian regarding his tech sector job loss article comparisons. By actually comparing the headline to the content of each individual news story he is able to convey that the headlines are congruent with the facts presented therein and not exaggerated.

However, I question the following logic:


Microsoft sensationalized its own press release in order to forewarn shareholders of what they plan to do in the future. The MSM simply faithfully passed this information on to their audience.


While it is true that corporate PR departments are the ever faithful spin doctors, press releases are nothing more than panacea to stymie corporate ills during times of crisis management. As such, it is up to the MSM to sift the wheat from the chaff. That is not to say that the MSM misrepresented the facts in this particular instance. Rather, it is the way 44soulslayer’s explanation over simplifies this issue within this context.

Moving along, he does a great job of answering the Socratic questions posed.

Introduces two vastly different approaches to the Baltic Dry Index slump: one from a MSM source and the other a non-MSM source. It is apparent with this example that the MSM outlet has not taken pains to sensationalize the story through its headline, whereas the non-MSM one obviously did. He did a bit of cherry-picking events, no doubt, but a vastly effective method for making his point.

This was an extremely close round, and therefore a tie.

Reply 2:

Ian McLean:
Has a fairly adept flair for talking smackage during the heat of debate. He makes it look so eloquent. Mental note to self: If ever thrown in the ring against Ian McLean, make sure to wear smack-proof body armor.

Back to the debate. Ian is quick to make grandiose statements such as:


…agendas of exaggeration…: exaggeration from corporations to position themselves as 'responsive' in the eyes of investors and the market, and exaggeration from the media, seeking to simplify events into a 'compelling narrative', potentially sacrificing objectivity and investigative reporting.


While he has certainly made an argument for the exaggerations that corporate PR departments are prone to delve, he has yet to make a compelling case for the loss of journalistic integrity within the MSM. In short, the talk is not matching the walk.

Let’s look at this little gem:


The answer is: the media doesn't portray 'the truth'.


It is quite amusing that Mr. McLean would use a source entitled ” Manufacturing Consent: A Propaganda Model” as a basis for this claim. Like most propaganda pieces, this book excerpt offers a few grains of truth cloaked heavily in conspiratorial spin. In other words, it is not a work without its own agenda or bias. I dare say, his argument may have been better served if he stuck by his highly intelligent prose and skipped this source entirely.

It is also interesting to note that his final source, Frost & Sullivan, pins the current economic crisis firmly upon the media. It is ironic that upon closer inspection, this bit of information is culled from a press release (can you say spin doctors) for what is essentially a big business consulting agency. It is a consulting agency that is no doubt trying to calm a jittery business market in an attempt to gain additional clientele. No bias here.

44soulslayer:
Makes an excellent point that neatly sums up the debate thus far:


Clearly fitting all that information into a headline is impossible- due to the nature of the inverted pyramid approach. A headline must be pithy and informative at the same time. A headline which states “5,000 jobs cut at Microsoft” is not exaggerating- it is a distillation of the factual information that needs to be disseminated.


He also does a nice job of placing McLean’s Chomsky source in better perspective regarding the media and its’ alleged claims of exaggeration. It certainly dulls the edge his opponent was attempting to hone with this source from the start.

Also, 44soulslayer does a remarkable job of summarizing the various events that took place during this economic crisis and how each was presented in the MSM through various headlines. His approach was both concise and enlightening, further bolstering his argument.

Round 2 goes to 44soulslayer.

Reply 3:

Ian McLean:
It is surprising that Mr. McLean make the following two statements without any facts or source to back his claims.


The issue is selection of facts, and the context that is given to their rephrasing and interpretation. That's what headlines do. If you choose only biased sources for your news story, and don't perform objective investigative reporting, for purposes of creating compelling and simplified generalizations, then you are exaggerating certain sources and neglecting others. That's bad reporting.


True, this would be considered bad reporting if in fact he had provided any basis for this claim.


PR press releases are 40-70% of news content.


Again, this would be an interesting tidbit provided there was any factual evidence to back it up. As a judge, I’m compelled to ask if this is indeed and honest to goodness fact that he merely forgot to credit, or simply something he conjured from thin air because it sounds good. Unless this purported fact is grounded in some kind of supportable way, it cannot be accepted at face value.

A little further down, his second source from ” "Principles of Media Criticism" seems to back the premise of his argument. However, upon closer inspection it appears to be nothing more than another individual’s personal opinion, as it provides no basis or case studies for what it deems to put forth as fact.

Ian finally starts getting down to brass tacks by implicating capitalists for their role in the economic turndown and tying it in with MSM. I certainly wish he would have done this much sooner as it would have had a larger impact in supporting his stance.


Media outlets exist to create consistent categorizations of ideology within their target audience. The fact of those categorizations is valuable, because it allows for predictable manipulation. Manipulation is performed by politicians, corporations, capitalists, advertisers - those with agendas.


This is a point that should have been expounded upon early on in the game. However, he brings this up late in his third reply and only after he used up his allowance of five references that would have enabled him to strengthen this claim.

44soulslayer:
So far, he has deftly sparred Mr. McLean nearly point-to-point and has come out ahead.


I disagree with my opponent that the media exaggerated the stability of the financial system prior to the crash. Failing to report instability is not the same thing as actively disinforming people by claiming that the system is more stable than it really is.


This is a valid claim that his opponent has yet to effectively dispute.

44soulslayer also does a fair job of adequately answering the Socratic questions without giving Ian much ammunition to work upon.

The addition of human interest stories in the MSM as a direct result of the economic crisis was a smart move. Unfortunately it didn’t have the impact it should have due to 44soulslayer exceeding the number of sentences allowed from external sources.

Nonetheless, round three goes to 44soulslayer.

Closing statement:

Ian McLean:
He spends a good deal (nearly half) of his closing statement in rebuttal without gaining any real ground. He was able to get a couple of good jabs in here and there, but little substantial enough to strengthen his position in any significant way.

Although, I must admit to being troubled by this sentiment:


Facts either buried deep in the article, where they're most often ignored, or facts requiring a level of research that the general public does not engage in. Nor should they - if that were a requirement, as it seems to be, it sort of undermines the entire raison d'etre of the mainstream media, doesn't it?


It seems that Mr. McLean is implying that the general public gleans its information strictly from the MSM headlines, and that the facts play a secondary role because they tend to be ”buried deep” (his personal opinion) and are therefore less influential to the public at large. Unfortunately, he fails to see (or at least acknowledge) that there is more to the MSM than just headlines. Headlines are nothing more than a light sauce over the meat and potatoes of a story.

Furthermore, this statement seems to be a direct contradiction to this nugget offered in his closing remarks:


The obvious motivation of mainstream media is to create headlines which are compelling to the reader, and create a sense of urgent need for their news-product.


Which is another way of stating that headlines are mean to be hooks that snare readers/viewers into investing their interest and personal time into the news-product a.k.a. story. However, this statement infers that it is the story that is prominent, not just a series of facts ”buried deep” that play a secondary role.

He makes an eloquent, albeit brief, closing statement. While it smatters a tad on the defensive side, it has its strong points that against a lesser opponent would be an effective hit out of the ball park.

44soulslayer:
Impressive. His points are clear, concise and wraps up his position nicely. He spends the vast majority of his statement making his case in a pragmatic manner, thus strengthening his overall position.

All in all, this proved to be one Hell of a debate and a great read. Kudos to both fighters for turning what could have been a very dreary bout into a disarming display of intellectual discourse.


In the end, though, Ian doesn’t quite throw 44soulslayer off his game. Therefore, the win goes to 44soulslayer.




Judgement for: 44soulslayer

This was a difficult debate to judge. To my mind neither fighter made any critical errors. In the end I had to simply go with the point that Ian McLean wasn't able to amply justify his position. Certainly there is literary license taken in the media. Sharp verbiage catch attention, but that is natural given that these are for profit organizations. In the end I couldn't see that any outright exaggeration in any of the examples, as the facts all seemed critically and accurately stated. So, in the end, while both fighters did an exemplary job, the edge goes to 44soulslayer in my opinion.





Judgment- Ian McLean wins the debate.

Opening-

Ian McLean-comes out with a very strong opening post. He lays the groundwork for his argument, without locking himself into detailed promises.

44soulslayer- takes an opposite approach. Making highly detailed promises, which can provide quite a let down if the debate should move in a different direction. He does do an adequate job of countering Ian's opening, but gains no real ground beyond that, (due in part to spending a lot of time promising) and so the opening comes out pretty even.

Round One;

Ian McLean- does a fine job both supporting his own claim in his opening statement, and refuting an objection to that claim made by his opponent with his illustration of exaggeration.

44soulslayer- opens with an argument that seems to distill to "well they could have exaggerated it more." But he does go on to shift the responsibility for the exaggeration from the MSM to the company itself cleverly using Ian's own argument to do so. Very impressive work by 44soulslayer. Well fought and very even first round.

Round Two;

Ian McLean- another truly excellent job. Ian also highlights a small concession from 44soulslayer that had slipped my notice in the last round. Giving him a slight edge in the debate.

44soulslayer-begins by trying to claim that knowingly printing an exaggerations does not really meet the topical requirement of this debate, the term he focuses on is "is exaggerating." I simply have to disagree here. He fails to refute the point made by Ian in that respect. If you knowingly print an exaggeration, you are also exaggerating. However he goes on to fight the idea of exaggeration further by reinstating the strict definition. He also wisely declines to argue against Ian's introduction of the role of media in society. He is right, it does stray from the topic in scope, and not allowing himself to be taken there is a very wise strategy. 44 attempts to retract the slight concession he gave to Ian in the first round, but I do not think it was adequate. Exaggeration can fall into the bounds of "presenting information in its most engaging or interesting form.” 44soulslayer scores a point of his own in this round however, and it is a solid one, finally driving home that when an event is big enough, the media does not need to exaggerate at all. The debate remains even at the end of round two.

Round Three;

Ian McLean- Another masterful post by Ian. He points out clear exaggeration "The End of Wall Street" to counter the ground gained by 44 in the last round, and reintroduces the role of media, very successfully I might add. Ian edges ahead again slightly in this neck and neck race.

44soulslayer- in this post, 44 tries to undo the "End of Wall Street" as exaggeration, but really doesnt. What he does is show a significant change, not really an end. It does not refute Ian's example of exaggeration. At this point, I think it is a given that the "MSM" is a broad term some times it does exaggerate and sometimes not. The question now becomes not whether the media exaggerates, but is that the case in this instance? 44 present the reader with the question;


Is it hyperbole to draw parallels between the modern condition of people in tent cities and those of times during the Great Depression, or is it an accurate and valid comparison?


But unfortunately, not the answer. What percentage of the population in hard hit areas WAS living on the streets during the Depression? How big an increase is this over the last several years prior to this meltdown? He is assuring the reader that this is accurate reporting, not hyperbole, but does not prove it.

Closing;

Ian McLean- grabs onto the only two flaws I myself could find in his opponents argument, and plays them up to the audience. (As he should) He closes with a very good summary argument.

44soulslayer-does not repair the damage caused by those points, and offers his own very good summary argument.

Summary;

This was an excellent debate. I was beginning to worry neither debater would make an error or leave an opening, and I would be forced to decide between two very nearly perfect cases. It was that close for most of the debate. Even the two points that have decided this case, 1) that the media does exaggerate, (Wall Street has not ended) and 2) that they have exaggerated in this event, were very slight edges to Ian McLean.

I am sorry these two were paired so early in the tournament, they both were final round caliber opponents. Congratulations to both debaters for an excellent job.

Debate goes to Ian McLean.



posted on Apr, 2 2009 @ 07:29 PM
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I'd like to thank MS and Semper for organising, the judges for their considerable time taken to read the debate, and the general ATS readership.

Above all though, I must thank Ian for the toughest and yet most cordial debate I've had on ATS.

Here's looking forward to many more bouts between us in the future!



posted on Apr, 3 2009 @ 06:46 PM
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Congratulation, 44ss, and thank you! What a well-fought strategic debate; a well-earned and hard-fought win.


Many thanks to the judges for their detailed and valued expositions! It's wonderful stuff, feedback, and incredibly useful to refining debate technique, especially with regard to the impression given by sources used.

A very-valid procedural point was raised by the first judge, that I am compelled to address:



PR press releases are 40-70% of news content.


Again, this would be an interesting tidbit provided there was any factual evidence to back it up. As a judge, I’m compelled to ask if this is indeed and honest to goodness fact that he merely forgot to credit, or simply something he conjured from thin air because it sounds good.


This was an unfortunate last-minute edit (two minutes before the deadline!). Turns out that I had labeled two sources "[1]", for an inadvertent total of six sources. So I was forced to edit out the link for that factoid. It's from "The New Class Society" by Robert Perrucci, Earl Wysong, p233. I had hoped 44ss would have directly confronted it, so I could revisit the source later. He failed to take the bait, however.


Given the nature of the topic, I would have been very happy to have more than 5 source links available per reply. In a 'survey' discussion such as this, often many sources (headlines) need to be tangentially quoted and cited to make a single point of a gestalt case.



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 03:16 AM
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I agree with Ian.

Perhaps we need a relaxed set of rules when dealing with evidence-driven debates.

Alternatively, we could use a challenge system whereby:

Debater A produces a statistic without a source.

Debater B either accepts the source implicitly (doesn't challenge it)/ or

Debater B challenges the statistic.

It's then up to Debater A to prove the statistic with a source.





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