Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Has Canadian Journalism Gone Yellow?

"Canadian Troops Kill 2 Afghan Children"

Girl, 4, and her brother, 2, hit as soldiers fire on speeding car

’My innocent children have been killed by foreigners — for no reason.’ Mother of slain children

’This is the last thing soldiers want to happen. . . . The soldiers believed they had to take action to protect their convoy because the car was coming toward them at high speed.’ Canadian army

Funny, I was actually niave enough to think that the American media were the only ones who actively tried to make their military look bad, who actively and deliberately slanted their headlines to scream something to the effect of "Our bloodthirsty soldiers must be stopped!".

Apparently, sadly, I was wrong.

I mean, I could be way off base here. But in comparision to the above headline, don't you think this just slightly changes the story?

Canadian troops killed a four-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother Sunday by opening fire on a car that they feared was about to attack their convoy in Afghanistan.

Soldiers said that as the car sped toward them in Panjwaii district outside Kandahar city, they flashed the lights on their vehicles, made hand gestures and issued audio warnings for it to pull over.

The car came within 10 metres of the convoy.

The crew in a light armoured vehicle faced a life-or-death choice and had very little time to make it — fire at the car, or risk being blown up by a suicide bomber

Really, is there any excuse for that sort of headline?

And please don't feed me that crap about violence and gore selling or that they only write the stuff we want to read. Because these are our own Canadian soldiers, our neighbours' sons and daughters, and our very country they're selling down the river. Unjustly.

Now you might respond that those very pieces I highlighted give the lie to the sensational headline, that anyone who reads the first few paragraphs will immediately get the real story. True enough. But there's only one small problem ... how many people will read read that headline and never stop to read one further word in the article? Will never read that the soldiers had a legitimate fear for their own lives and tried to warn the vehicle away to no avail?

Think about it, how often do you walk by a newspaper on display in a store, read the headline and keep on walking? Leaving those words, "Canadian Troops Kill 2 Afghan Children" to ring in your ears. And how many people do little more than skim the headlines at any time?

So do these types of headlines really matter? Yes, yes they do. And frankly, I expect better from Canadian journalists. Because selling out our military in order to sell newspapers is quite simply not okay with me. Is it with you?

And no, I'm sorry, but you can't justify this, not for one single second, just because you report 'the rest of the story' a few paragraphs down. Because by then, the damage is already done.

And for that, we can thank "Canada's trusted news leader", The Canadian Press.

Update: Stay tuned for Part II of my thoughts on the article from hell.


Kris, in New England said...

Welcome to the world of smear-based journalism. We Americans have been living with is since Vietnam.

It sucks.

doorkeeper said...

And more people are reading only the headlines these days, especially when the topic is the GWOT. Because they're sick of the things they read (and this dreck is 99% of what they read) and so they're tuning out and turning off.

Not fighting this trend in journalism means we accept and allow it. Living with it means letting it go on.

Thanks for making yourself heard!

We Americans have a lot to apologize for--and our journalism is certainly a big part of that.

We've done a lot of good in the world, and we've done some harm. It remains to be seen what will last and what will fade away--but certainly, our media has made a lasting effect not only on our own people, but on the world in general, and very little of it good.

just call me a "voice bitching in the wilderness"

PeterGunn said...

It seems as though the MSM really cannot be trusted to tell the WHOLE TRUTH. They would apparently prefer to emphasize and report just a warped sense of the truth, no matter which side of the border we're on.

You're right, doorkeeper, people just read the headlines today. The sad truth is that it's not because the don't want to read the story; it's usually because they can't!

Why so cynical, you may ask? Read the headline again and multiply it by a million more since Vietnam.