Twenty-four hour special news coverage. Twenty-four hour special news coverage! You can take your twenty-four hour special news coverage and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. But wait; with oilfields smoking and burning, and precision bombing by the hour, the sun probably isn’t shining over Baghdad today.
Experts have said that it’s going to be the 24-inane-hour news coverage that will ultimately determine the course and outcome of this new war, which is at the same time an overextended old war. Events will happen on the front, at high noon there but before sunrise here. Photojournalists embedded in the field will have covered, edited, and submitted their material before most of us will have woken up in the morning. Technology and the twenty-first century have made war like magic-quicker than the eye can see.
So, with such blinding haste, and with so many cameras focused half a world away, it’s tragic that mass media journalists are nearly blind to the human rights violations occurring in our own hemisphere. Recently the government of Fidel Castro has begun rounding up outspoken activists in an attempt to quell resistance to his nearly half-century of leadership. People from many walks of life-poets, authors, journalists, and politicians-are all being arrested and held without explanation or hope for release anytime soon.
Analysts argue that Castro-who recently had to subdue a movement known as the Varela Project, which sought democratic reform for the Cuban nation-is testing his leash. He’s seeing how far he can go in violating the civil liberties of his opposition without receiving international condemnation and censure. With the world’s attention attracted elsewhere, Cuba’s violations of the Geneva Convention go relatively unnoticed. Sure, the UN casually mentioned that they don’t like what Castro is doing. And sure, what he’s doing is probably more relevant than leadership conflicts in Iraq. But America seems to have given up on Cuba.
The major networks have hastened to the Middle East like sharks fly to the feeding frenzy: jaws open, eyes wide, waiting for a piece of juicy, bloody meat to fall into their mouths. Sometimes the news is untrue even before it leaves the Middle East, as we saw when that footage of Iraqi soldiers surrendering was revealed to be only a US military training video. Most often it undergoes bias in the corporate boardroom, and is then released to the public after a severe editing makeover from government, military, and corporate hands.
It would be healthy to your news organ if we all made special effort to expand our sources. You may get The Miami Herald and USA Today for free in the cafeterias, but realize that those publications are not the paradigms of straightforward news reporting. To obtain a more objective and rational understanding of war (if that is possible), look to magazines, look to other publications, look to all directions of the political spectrum, from left to right to ultraconservative to tree hugger. Remember that everyone thinks that they are correct on this issue of war, and still nobody can agree on a course of action or inaction.
In short, be careful about where you get your news. As if credibility and bias weren’t always important in determining the validity of media coverage, they are especially relevant in such a fast-paced, high-emotion, propaganda war, such as Gulf War 1.5.