tirsdag 26. juli 2011

When mass murderers become spin doctors

One year after 9.11 Anders Behring Breivik, has told the police that he started on the process he fulfilled this weekend. During the last nine years he has meticulously been planning mass murder. In his now far spread manifest he explains how Norwegian investigative journalists and their yearly conference could be a natural soft target with its annual 600 participants.

On Friday the building I was working in shook from the explosion, and ever since I have been following the media coverage as closely as I can. Like my fellow citizens I have spent my time talking with family members, and sought and been given comfort by friends, while we have switched between channels as BBC, CNN and the Norwegian news channels. I guess the global media are quite satisfied with their own coverage.

To keep some sense of reality it has been necessary to take walks with friends in down town Oslo, and to look at the killer’s destruction. What I saw there was of course heart breaking, but it was not at all comparable with the pictures I got in my own living room. All right, it is of course huge destructions, but NOT total destruction. Take for example a nearby shopping mall, one of the more prominent we have in Oslo, Glasmagasinet - some windows were broken, but absolutely not all, as I imagined in my head after watching moving images which only showed destructions. At Youngstorget, where the old opera house used to be, very much is destroyed, but not at all total destruction, as I had thought. This fact gave me comfort as walking around. When watching the surveillance video from the minutes when the bomb took place outside VG (Link) one sees people running just as the bomb goes of at the other side of the house, but no one there is killed.

The Utøya massacre has such dimensions it's not even possible to begin to comprehend. There is no way I could even try to explain or understand. My heart goes out to all the affected.

What am I aiming for is to get a grasp on the media plan of this psychopathic person.

Obviously, he seeks to manipulate the global media, to maximize his sick ideology and what he sees as some kind of “faith”, some kind of belief. There in no faith that justifies such cowardly violence against innocent children and people. He simply is not worthy of having a so called ideology. In such mass murderers heads more important than death seem to be the manipulation of media. Success has nothing to do with survival. Success is how far their ´ideology´ can reach on a global scale. Either they choose to drop a bomb, or shoot running people in the backs, it should not be connected with ideology and faith. Rip them for the so called ´ideology´ and their actions stand clean.

Instead their actions remind me of the school bullies who always picked on the smallest girl in the schoolyard, as they knew she could not defend herself. Media however is more and more a world wide ever present commercial institution, where editorial principals are impossible to coordinate on a global span. The consequences are devastating. This weekend I have received phone messages from all over the world, from distant friends being concerned.

I am the first to agree that information in all its cruelty needs to reach viewers, and users (of online production) However, when the mass murderer is operating as a spin doctor, and we all are dancing to his tunes, the question to the worlds editors what to communicate, and not at least how much. Even though editors will almost always argue, that we, the audience have not seen what has been omitted, but they seem to forget that audience no longer stay tuned to only one channel. They look at all the media as one channel.

Considering the way young and totally innocent people have died, there should be more collaboration between the media in the way the propaganda is handled.

fredag 22. juli 2011

The danger of the VISUAL EVIDENCE!

The ´Murdoch-whale´ slid above waterfront, and just as sudden it showed it self, just as abrupt does it slips into the dark waters. At the same time there are thousands of small cases of media coverage that could be illuminated to generate daily discussions of media coverage’s. Cases that might seem insignificant to the metropolitans of the world, but which are just as good examples on the ongoing revolution of media coverage as the mysterious though overwhelming ´Murdoch-whale´.

One interesting question is the one of moving images. Moving images were once heavily produced, and continuously gave media organizations a headache concerning its endless need for resources. Now, moving images gush forth to meets its starry future as probably the most attractive medium of its all. The sociologist Thompson once mentioned how over world probably is going to be more influenced by ´visuality´. And as several scholars repeatedly have mentioned, media workers seem to confuse moving images with reality. As, for example as soon as something is ´live´ it is real. Although, several studies comparing the complexity of what is taking place in front of the cameras with the fragment of what the cameras actually were able to capture.

Recently an ongoing news story in Norway is illustrates the point.

The scene is a recent late night in front of the Parliament of Norway, situated in the middle of capital. At the Parliament two guards are placed to protect it. On their surveillance cameras they suddenly discover something unusual. Outside the Parliament, at the gateway a woman and a man have intercourse. At first it does not look ´that chocking´, as the woman does not provide much resistances. Even though there is something with the incident that make them call the police. Next the headline of our daily newspapers tells the chocking story of the guards at the Parliament that did not prevent the rape. In one way or another there is visual evidence that the woman was raped. Consequently the Editor in Chief for the online magazine ´The journalist´ is asking the tabloid news paper Dagbladet to explain the discrepancy between the big and screaming titles, as it seems as if the guards did not actually understand the seriousness of the situation. When the police arrived at the scene the woman was gone, and the rapist, a 15-year-old asylum seeker was caught.

As moving images, more easily accessed from wherever, with it core trait (at least among news workers) being capable of catching the ´truth´. And never ´truth´ was to be found in a simpler, and less expensive way. The problem is that moving images, not necessarily IS the truth. In the ongoing discussion of what we actually need journalists for, as raw material continuously seem to seek for a publisher, this is it.

Actually moving images as a medium is just like any other medium. It requires someone who is capable of interpreting it. Who meets the raw material with a sceptical distance, and is able to analyze it. It is a matter of credibility, not in what the viewer finally sees on television or Internet, but simply the credibility of news organization and its invisible production process.

onsdag 20. juli 2011

Murdoch-gate – the plot thickens!

A journalist is found dead at his home in London. Not long ago he used to work at the News of the World. One instantly assumes this might be suicide. If he just hadn't worked at the News of The World. Something is no longer rotten in Denmark. Something is rotten in UK. What is actually going on here?

There is an ongoing shift from hard news to soft news. When the previous Editor in Chief Brooks explains the production process in the news paper she once used to run as Editor in Chief, one absolutely does not believe her. I do not believe that she and other editors were not involved in the sewage drain system. Of course they were. Anyone with the slightest idea of how a news organization works, knows this very well: that journalists are cells of an organizational body, and if there's a risk of getting dragged into the non-paid blame belonging to an editor, they will inform their bosses thoroughly of any complications. Although most journalists of any news room is, in my opinion, far too loyal to the system, they will find ways to protect themselves from having to share the organizational responsibility the editors are paid to take.

So what is actually the problem? The problem is this: the journalist is the hand, the editor is the head. It is more likely the hand gets dirty than the head. Something the editor knows. If the editor doesn't want to work in a sewage system, he (in most cases) will call a plumber. If the system is the sewage, the editor needs to take on his (or in this single case: hers) shoulders. Politicians and their rules and laws opened the door for the Murdochian-media business a long time ago, business many honourable journalists have found jobs. But when someone,just like the small child in H.C. Andersens story about the naked king screams: The king is naked, the king is naked, neither the politicians will accept that they actually laid down the ground for tabloidizm of the sewage. Instead they turn towards what they call “the monster with no face”, and blame the monster called “Journalism”. Strangely the same ”monster” they so often have had to face when doing the slightest error with their elected power.

My point is that in the collaboration of power, the journalists might carry some blame, but of course not all of it, since the system itself needs to stand trial at Old Bailey. The journalists participate in the system. But if Murdochs and Brooks are allowed to run wild in at the same old exclusive power clubs of the British elite establishment, it will happen again. The monster without a face, Journalism, might be a monster, but more often than in this case, it is a more honourable than being credited for.