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The Shooting of Menezes: Should we Put the Media on Trial?

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posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 06:17 AM
Who is really to blame?

I have been arguing vehemently against this man's shooting since the day of the incident. Now that senior official Sir Ian Blair is being asked to resign by members of Menezes' family AND the UK press; while Charles Clarke visibily pats him on the back and praises the Mets' actions on that day, I ask you this question...

How much of this can we blame on the media? They were happy to run away with the slim facts and expound as much as possible. In many ways they are as guilty for the 'cover-up' as is the Met. And we the public are guilty for believing whatever biased, hogwash reporting they have been spewing out.

All the facts of this case have still not been heard, but what information we were given was so distorted, bloated and untruthful, that the jobs of some senior officials are on the line. But what about the media?

Don't they have a responsibility to behave ethically or to conduct good journalism? On another thread I mentioned that they had begun referring to suspected and alleged parties as 'Bombers' or 'Terrorists' without any proof whatsoever. Apparently it was enough to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time to have your name spelled out in black and white in all the papers for everyone: your neighbours, your parents, your co-workers, to know who you were.

They were quite happy to jump on the Charles Menezes incident when it was a free for all speculation about his coat, his legality, the supposed wires hanging out of his back and his connection with terrorists.

Now that things have backfired, the press is turning on the police, calling for Blair's resignation. Let me make it absolutely clear that I still hold the police responsible and accountable for the reckless events that led to this poor man's death.

But I would like to start a debate to discuss not a 'shoot to kill policy' or even the approach of how London police are blameless because they are defending us from bombers and terrorists. I want to talk about how the media is responsible for a lot of what is going on and why they are getting away with it. This is not only a UK related issues. Media cover of 9/11 was absolutely appalling as well.

I think ATS is brilliant because we can come here and pick people's brains when we feel we are being handed crap presented as facts. I feel less and less we can trust what the newspapers and television tell us. We need to start thinking for ourselves and DEMAND that the coverage that we get is authentic and not some regurgitated mess that the officials give the press.

The police are now saying that they too were confused by the media coverage and by the erroneous witness accounts. Are we all leaning too much on them to tell us what is really going on? Is that wise?

[edit on 21-8-2005 by nikelbee]

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 06:43 AM
I stopped reading the mainstream print media a long time ago as they turned into political mouthpieces and gossip rags. Investigative journalism seems to have died a death as far as politics is concerned, ALL the print media just seems to report the "official" line without question.
We then have a government that's quick to issue a "D" notice on anything that may prove harmful to them, in the name of National Security, of course.

Is it any wonder that sales of newspapers are dropping in favour of internet media sites? Of course, there may well come a time when control of internet media will also be strictly censored by the authorities. There's too much alternative and contradictory news and views to challenge the official line these days. An informed population is harder to control and more inclined to ask awkward questions

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 07:00 AM
I thought the gov was already looking into ways of censoring information by stopping so called 'terrrorism' and 'preaching of hate' websites. First all the muslims ones naturally because they all hate us, but eventually they will target everyone else's websites because they don't agree with the status quo. What kills me is that people actually buy this nonsense and continue listening to the BBC because they've done such an exemplary job reporting what is really happening.

I had this discussion with someone the other day who explained it by saying the media in the UK is 'scared' to make allegations and be proven wrong, therefore they won't touch this conspiracy stuff with a barge pole. The thing is they are! Just in the other direction. They are speculating and alleging in favour of the government's partyline. The days of good journalism are gone. They days when someone smellled a story and wouldn't care about their cushy job and their pensions and set about trying to find truth to fishy answers.

Governments have always hidden things and been untruthful to its public; the difference now is that the media is permanently in bed with them and noone seems to care about getting straight answers.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 07:27 AM

Originally posted by nikelbee
Are we all leaning too much on them to tell us what is really going on? Is that wise?

Of course not. Most of the mainstream media are private corporations or are own by one. Their main agenda is profit and not informing the public or a quest for the truth.

I'm working for large media house for 12 years now and I know how we can manipulate people in believing almost everything. But there are some people who aren't like that. The sad thing is they are in minority. They have to be very carefull too because they can lose their jobs very fast.

One example from our company.
Our editor who is responsible for covering economy in our country published couple of articles about company who owns a large piece of our media house. Those articles were reporting about cash flow problems of our owners because they were in battle for taking over other companys in our country and are curently experiencing "battlle fatigue".
This editor was advised by our editor in chief (who was instructed by a board of directors) to ease up e little bit. He didn't comply. Then he got a direct verbal warning from one of the CEO's which represented clear interference in editorial policy. That made him so mad he emediately published two more articles about our owners. Well, now he is receiving walking papers in september and editor in chief too.

I remember something my philosophy teacher once said about media.

"The only usefull information I receive from them is a weather report."

[edit on 21-8-2005 by yanchek]

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 09:50 AM

Originally posted by yanchek
I remember something my philosophy teacher once said about media.

"The only usefull information I receive from them is a weather report."

[edit on 21-8-2005 by yanchek]

All so true nowadays.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 10:12 AM
All the media care about is ratings, which means all they care about is getting what they think is the story at the time.
There 'anonymous sources' half the time are probably very unreliable people (well it's normally wrong anyway isn't it?) but they don;t care becasue they will go with it just in case it is right - which sometimes it is.

They have no morals and really don't seem to care about what's best for the people, most small time journalists I've met have all been backstabbers and want to be your friend if they think you can tell them something good but they will quickly and easily turn their back on you.
They'll publish any old tosh from anywhere if they think there is the slightest chance that it might be correct so they 'brought it to you first'.

The media have a complete disregard for truth, honesty, morals, public interest, sensitive material and just about anything else that should be important in my opinion. Maybe a viable conspiracy that I have never seen anyone mention is maybe some media organisation(s) is behind the odd event or aware of them in advance to help sell their papers/ratings. Have a look to see who gets the 'exclusive' photo's or video.

[edit on 21-8-2005 by AgentSmith]

posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 08:02 AM
Ok, it all depends on where journalists are based and which paper they write for. Speaking as a journalist, all I can say that so far I have been quite lucky in my employers. I currently write for a magazine which deals with Reinsurance, which is complex enough to explain and I write a lot about natural disasters. I also look at politics, but purely from the point of view of upcoming legislation in various countries. I have never had to change the angle on a story to reflect the views of my company. I have never been asked to.
That said, there are a number of publications that I view - along with my friends and fellow workers - with utter contempt. Two good examples would be the Daily Mail (increasingly vile) and the Telegraph (still the Torygraph and increasingly bewildered), neither of which I would trust to tell the time. The columnists on the Mail tend to rant a lot and the paper's political reporting is a joke. The Telegraph is still read by lots of retired Colonels who are found dead in their chairs in various clubs. Both would support David Davis as leader of the Tory Party.
I hope that he does get in, that would make then unelectable.
Ok, gleeful rant over.
However, the Guardian, the Independent and the FT are much better and are not subject to the same disgusting pressure from owners (I won't mention the Times, as I loathe the Dirty Digger and the Express is now a complete joke) and are able to provide unbiased news. Robert Fisk of the Independent has been producing some outstanding reports over the past few years from Iraq and the Middle East, and although his work can be depressing (Iraq is a giant mess, basically) it is also enlightening.
As for the speculation after the Menezes, please remember that reporters rely on initial reports from eyewitnesses, as well as the police. The initial reports mostly came from the police, which is why the initial reporting had the "he had it coming to him" slant, followed by the "if he was innocent why did he run?" slant. Both were wrong, but they were corrected - hence the pressure on the police now, part of which is from the media.
Getting reporting right is a difficult process. You have to put things in the right context, not an easy thing to do if you have incomplete information. Blaming the media for overreacting is all very glib. What were your first thoughts when you heard about the 7/7 bombings? Could you write an article about it? Ratings don't bloody come into it, it's deadlines we care about.

posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 09:52 AM

This is what I love about ATS, different people from different walks of life willing to share their experiences. It is good to have an opinion from a journalist. I had a conversation in the pub the other day with an online journo who told me the same thing - it is all about the deadline.

I wouldn't line my birdcage with the Daily Mail - I prefer the Independent and sometimes the Guardian and I agree with the comment on Fisk.

I don't deny that facts were mishandled and eyewitness reports clashed and contradicted, but the media had a circus with the event, pointing fingers and alleging to their heart's content. But who are we kidding here? When I walk past a newsstand I have less that 5 seconds to glance over at the kiosk and decide whether I want to get a copy of the latest Evening Standard based on whatever headline is screaming at me from the corner of my eye.

IN essence 'I' am to blame just as much as anyone else for the lust for instant news gratification.

My view regarding this mess, is how members of 'respectable' media took the Menenez news and turned it to reflect the status quo: Illegality, terrorism, racial profiling, scaremongering, shoot to kill policy, you name it - they said or implied it... It was like reading the Daily Mail at their most intolerant best.

Now the papers have turned it the other way against the police.

My beef with this is... shouldn't the media be accountable and responsible for distorting facts and being biased? It may not sell as many papers if they take a wait and see attitude, or if they don't rush to meet their deadlines by printing more factual information rather than hearsay.

The police have other things to answer for, but shouldn't journalists sit down and take a good luck at their own contributable and reckless reporting? As far as deadlines, you are right - but that smacks of what the police said... no time to analyze correctly, not time to think it through... and we are left with the aftermath of disaster and feeling a little silly for believing all they said.

I am not attempting to be glib or self-righteous here. It is a very disturbing scenario when you can't trust your government, can't trust your police officers and can't trust the media to deliver an unbiased report.

posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 10:39 AM
I agree that it is very disturbing when the police actually makes things up. It brings up questions about the rule of law and how the country works that are, frankly, scary. The Menezes scandal has left me horrified - it should not have happened and now a family is grieving over the body an innocent man. The fact that the heat is now being turned on the police actually reassures me that the country works - we have a mindset that is instinctively horrified when we hear about this kind of thing. Something went wrong and now we have to make sure that it never happens again, that the lessons are learnt. Damn it, we have been dealing with this for 30 years, with PIRA on our backs, we should have learnt something!
As for the kneejerk reactions, we still come down to a number of basic problems. 1) How much time do you have to write up a story? This is a bad one, as sometimes papers don't have enough time to consider an event before deadline. A classic example of What Not To Do was provided by Kelvin McKenzie when the Belgrano was sunk. Gotcha did a lot of damage to the industry.
2) How much information do you have and are the police allowing you access to eyewitness statements. This is another bad one. People never quite see what they thought they saw, leading to conflicting reports and general confusion.
Personally I think that we in the media, as a whole, were a little too trusting of the police account. The problem is, that the police account was almost the only one, initially. Hence the finger pointing.
But it has been corrected and we do apologise for mistakes and blunders - in fact we have to, often in print, especially if someone complains. And we do relatively quickly - I have a feeling that the Met is going to hem and haw a lot before it ever comes around to apologising properly. Sad isn't it?

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