Please click here to see my comment, # 285, posted at the New York Times website on the story Coverage of Koran Case Stirs Questions on Media Role. Spending Rosh Hashanah with a focused intention toward t'shuvah -- a return to God (to righteousness) -- only makes more stark the complete absence of such intention in the media's attention to Terry Jones and its self-centered fascination with itself. My prayer is that the sound of the shofar this season calls us to hear the effects of our own voices and to use them more responsibly...knowing when that means we should not be using them at all.
Your comment is sensible as far as it goes. But here is the problem: If the lunatic minister had gone ahead a burned all the Korans that he and his followers could find that, I think you would agree, would be news. That news could cause all sorts of problems, including violent retaliation. The coverage to date, however narcissistic, has has likely helped cause the minister to back off -- at least for now. Not a bad result.ReplyDelete
Thank you for commenting! I would agree that, if Jones's backing off is attributable to the coverage and its fallout, and if the burning would necessarily have been covered on its own, then it may not be a bad result. But I don't consider those assumptions to be foregone conclusions. A small-town, small-scale protest, however atrocious, does not necessarily garner coverage -- certainly not in anything beyond local press. In this case, however, it allowed the media a new angle on a story they were trying to extend (the mosque), and they took advantage of that opportunity whether it made for real news or not under more typical news cycle conditions. I am not convinced that Jones will hold off, as eventually his hemming will stop being news and he'll want the big coverage that can only then come with the big climax. So now we have coverage of a non-event that is generating hate, fear, anger and danger. And then we will have coverage of an event (that could have been largely overlooked) that will further generate hate, fear, anger and danger. And throughout we have a smug press.
Yeah. Jones may not hold off. But without the media coverage, it seems almost certain that he woulda gone ahead.ReplyDelete
the media coverage may have caused this guy to back off, but it also incites copycats/people going ahead with 'international burn a koran day' in some form. and without media coverage, jones may have gone ahead, but fewer hateful people looking for an outlet would have caught wind of the sensation. the coverage stops one guy while planting the idea in others worldwide, possibly snowballing, etc. irresponsible media coverage, i'd agree.ReplyDelete
What's your evidence that the coverage makes copycatting likely? It's possible, of course, but that doesn't make it likely. My view is that people should disassociate the media's motives (e.g., the narcissism referred to in Dina's post) from its likely effects. Sure, there is always the potential for copycats, but that potential alone would be reason for the media not to cover all sorts of "bad" events that nearly everyone would agree is newsworthy. Again, I look at it this way. First, it is very unlikely that no media outlet was going to cover this story, even if most of the media had not covered it on the ground that it was not newsworthy. Second, if the minister had burned Korans in public surrounded my dozens of supporters, let's say, it would have been newsworthy (at least in my view), potentially inciting "retaliation" in other parts of the world. Third, the media coverage led to the minister (possibly) backing off. I think that's pretty much indisputable. It got the President, for instance, to express his views, which actually might have helped our standing in the Muslim world. In fact, the coverage caused the minister to take notice of public opinion and (possibly) alter his conduct. This is one of the key roles the press is supposed to play in a democracy.
There is no shot at keeping religious lunacy of this order under wraps and I agree w Brian that while this giy may yet burm books, the coverage and its concomittant reaction has led to its happening less likely.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure whether it happens is as important as whether it's noticed. There's no question it is noticed, now, regardless of whether it occurs.ReplyDelete