Wednesday, August 04, 2004

What's It Good For? Huh?

I started flipping channels when I got home from work last night and got sucked into watching a couple of hours of this on the Discovery-Times channel: Reporters at War

It was fascinating and frustrating. There were some amazing stories told, and some candid ones that didn't always show the tellers in the best light, but I still sat and wondered why so much of this doesn't make its way to our TV screens every night. Is it because we'd become inured to it? They won't show it to us because they want it to really mean something when they show it...like when they tell us that we have no idea what the toll is really like...because they won't show us the images on TV.

I also can't help but wonder, and I really had this question nagging at me all through the drive towards Baghdad in March of 2003: How much are the reporters holding back so that they can put the really juicy stuff in their books. You know, the ones they plan on writing when they come back.

There was a segment about the frustration that some reporters do face when they try to file complex or graphic or grisly stories and the editors back in New York or London or Washington or wherever sanitize it, saying that the boundaries of good taste keep them from showing such a thing during the dinner hour, or that they don't want to be accused of undermining support for the war. But I also had to wonder, in this glorious age of personal technology feeding into global audiences, if those reporters whose stories get axed because they don't fit the ongoing narrative of the mighty heroics of our brave men, then why can't these people go to someplace like Blogger and post those stories on their own sites? I mean, sure, you've been sent by ABC or CNN or BBC or one of the many Timeses to cover the story, but if they don't want what you've filed, does it go into a big dead story file, or do you get to keep the rights to what they've rejected? I don't suppose that it will win you any points in your next performance review, since these are all dutiful corporate employees, but if you believe that you serve some higher or nobler purpose, then who cares? It's about telling the story that needs to be told, right?

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