Monday, 5 March 2007

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

An anonymous response to "Do you feel like you know enough?" that points out the authority of a war reporter as "the only window" to the world of war made me think of Janet Cooke, one of the most famous journalists found to have fabricated stories.

Cooke won a Pulizer Prize for her story "Jimmy's World", which appeared in the Washington Post in September 1980. When it was discovered that the story was fraudulent Cooke resigned and the prize was returned. More recently Jack Kelley a correspondent for USA Today was found to have fabricated around 100 stories including an account of a high-speed hunt for Osama bin Laden in 2003.

Famed sociologist Jean Baudrillard wrote a controversial and widely misunderstood book entitled The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. He believed in hyperreality which is a postmodern concept explaining that everything we experience second hand (i.e. through television, writing, photographs or word of mouth) never really existed.

Anything that is reported to the public is merely a reproduction of what was experienced, we must trust journalists to present an accurate account of what it is that they see.

Jack Kelley is Exposed
Report on Janet Cooke's prize winning tale


Anonymous said...

Jeez! What a concept! Who, if not the reporter on the spot are we to trust?

I've heard this frightening concept aired before in relation to the killing of Jews in the seond world war.. Is photographic evidence now dismissed?

Over 50 years later ...

All this technology... is it good? OK I'm an old fart but I'm entitled to wonder.

There might have been flawed ... those old photos, but they were real. We knew they were real. It showed they were real.

With our 'advances in techonolgy' (especially in photography)precipitating 'reality scoops' - which news channels seemingly pass off as authentic as the once bona fide reporting was - I fear for the truth. I fear for the future. I fear. I just fear. I don't trust them any more. I wonder why.

Have we become too chic and clever for our own good?

Must we trust todays young journalists to report an accurate account of what they see? My God! I hope so! Who else is there?

Anonymous said...

look love, this is a bit of an essay rather than a comment. you seem to be dominating the debate, maybe you should get your own blog and rattle on about the good old days to an audience that give a damn

Anonymous said...

i completely forgot what i wanted to say after my irritation from that stupid comment. hasn't robert fisk been accused of embelishing his stories and writing about places he's never been to?

Fran Singh said...

Oi you let them have their say haha! Thats what blogging is all about. Firstly its sad that sometimes the truth is fabricated for scoops. I know its not always the case and call me an idealist, but if a journalist is willing to put themselves into a dangerous war zone then surely they're doing it because they are truly interested in getting the truth out there and not in scoops. I want to be a journalist, but I dont think id put my life on the line unless it was something I truly was passionate about, not just to hit the front page.

I think we should put faith into our journalists, I mean yes they're human and despite hardest efforts everyone is biased, but I would rather have some insight into what is truly going on than none at all. I certainly wouldn't trust our goverment to keep us accurately informed.

Anonymous said...

Fair point about our reliance upon the journalist as the representative of reality. Things like Kelly and even Jayson Blair at the Times have considerably damaged ideas of journalistic integrity. However on the Baudrillard teachings I don't agree as much-I'm not a fan of his post modern fluffiness. On the record though he did die the other day ago, literally like 2 weeks ago or something. Nevertheless this does not make me like his work.