Thursday, February 09, 2006

What Aren’t They Telling You

This may have to become a regular feature. Reading the press wire is increasingly like reading Pravda. What isn’t in the story is often more important than what is in it. This is the story from Reuters about the recent crime wave in Boston. Read carefully:

Got that? Take your time. Make sure you’ve read the story thoroughly before proceeding. Now answer the following questions about the Boston crime wave:

  • Why has the demand for illegal guns risen in Boston?

  • Who are the victims of the rising crime wave?

  • Who are the perpetrators of the rising crime wave?

  • Have the other major cities which are seeing falling rates of crime also lost federal funding?

  • If illegal gun trafficking is profitable because of the strict laws in Massachusetts, will making the gun laws stricter decrease the incentive to traffic in illegal guns?

  • What were the ‘community divisions’ that led to an end to successful ‘Operation Ceasefire’ program?

  • According to the clergy and community leaders which made ‘Operation Ceasefire’ successful, what is the cause of the problem?

  • Do you still feel like you have the full story? That last question in particular to me is pretty telling. All sorts of experts are asked for their opinion, but they are outsiders with political agendas. The locals that actually care about their community are not quoted. They may not even have been interviewed. The reporter questioned people in ideology driven think tanks in New York and Washington. But he didn’t bother to ask anyone actually on the scene except some local politicians who say what local politicians always say, “I need a bigger budget.”

    I’m not from Boston, and before reading that article I had not been following its internal politics. But whenever you see gaps like this in an article it’s a good bet that the reason for the holes are that the writer feels that some part of the story might be politically incorrect to tell or might interfere with the message. Most wire reporters have a message that they want to get out – lately its often nothing more complex than ‘Bush is to Blame for Everything’ – and they tend to leave out anything that might make that message more complicated. But, as my motto reads, the truth is always complicated. If you don’t give people the complexity, you aren’t giving them the truth.

    It might take some time for me to find out what the real story is, but it almost certainly involves some combination of minorities, racism, recent immigration, corruption in an embarrassing group, and the failure of orthodox liberal policies (such as tighter gun control or more lenient jail sentencing). If it involved anything else at all, it would have been mentioned in the story. As it is, unless you live in Boston you have no idea from the above story what is going on. I certainly don’t. You can only marvel how every story is always massaged by the press into the same story with the same solutions, as if every problem was simple. In this case, the narrative and solutions offered are the same as ever – more money for government, more federal money, tighter gun control, higher police to citizen ratios, oh and get rid of George W. Bush. But the problem hidden by the story is clearly much more complex than that, and the proposed solutions even from what little of the story that we have – the part that was deemed suitable for public consumption by our guardians in the media – clearly don’t address the problem. If you don’t live in Boston, you should be insulted by such a uninformative account. And if you do live in Boston, you should be insulted that the problems of your city are being used to push national agendas that have nothing to do with fixing crime in Boston.


    At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    dang I couldn't find the article to this. I wonder if it is cached anywhere?

    At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

    That question list should become a mantra. Every article should be scrutinized by these or a similar set of questions. Just a one-month study of major media organizations to expose the almost useless level of information actually provided by these "professionals".

    Perhaps this can then be compared to blog coverage of the same prominent events. What an education that would be for all of us.


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