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Re: Dateline on the Cult/Ricky Tonight

Posted by Media Analyst on August 22, 2005 at 15:24:45

In Reply to: Dateline on the Cult/Ricky Tonight posted by TV Guide on August 19, 2005 at 17:26:01:

Seems to me this documentary was typical of mainstream commercial journalism where contemporary social reality is constructed by dividing the world into clearly defined camps of conservative & liberal, Democrat & Republican, pro-choice and anti-abortion.

This type of journalism tells the story without acknowledging and examing the core issue of human conflict. To be completely fair and politically correct, the story has to be pitched as the "pro and con" for an alternative sexual culture. That way we can move right into the talking heads. Who's to say what's right or wrong? Let's bat it about like a ping pong ball and hear a cost/benefit on that...Let's see, Claire? OK, Julia? Yes, and Dr. Chancellor?

This type of "fair and balanced" journalism pretends that it doesn't have a point of view and that it is values neutral. But it does, in fact, have a point a view and a set of values. They are this: There are no standards by which reasonable people can examine a contentious issue and get at an assessment of society reality. Rapists have as much right to define their reality as an "alternative sexual culture" as the victims have to define it as predatory abuse.

There are journalists (very few in the mainstream media) who think a story about human conflict should include a critical analysis of position, power, exploitation, and social control. Start to do that, and suddenly it's not so easy to draw neat lines between Palestinians and Israelis, conservatives & liberals, Democrats & Republicans, etc. Suddenly the world takes on a lot more complexity than a commercial journalist can churn out in a few easily digested sound bites.

Burp! Now on to the war in Iraq...