Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A bit of a look: CNN and BBC

It is often said that American news sources are biased and lack depth. The latter I dispute to a degree, there's often a lot more depth of coverage that people simply ignore, and when you go to some of the more respected newspapers (say The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or go to some of our essayish magazines like Atlantic Monthly or The New Yorker, you can find a lot of depth in those sources. But overall I must admit most American news stories, especially on TV are more oriented toward a quick rundown of events along with a debate on popular issues (this is true of even CNN, my perhaps main go-to news source). I actually don't mind that often, since it is really nice to have a wide-ranging skimming of world news, so you can have general idea of what's going on without needing to search and run around. I also believe that even more deeper sources are mainly there to point you into the direction of some news subjects you want to investigate more.

But sometimes a brief summaries of events just leaves you without a full understanding of what the events actually mean, or an understanding of how trustworthy the reports are or the moral standing of the players or the impact of incidents and such (moreover, with a limited number of "breaking" news events or popular issues to debate, things get repetitive fast). Take for example, CNN's coverage of the recent shooting of Uygurs in Xinjiang, which concentrated on the Chinese police reports and attributed the whole thing to an anti-Han holy war as per that report. Thus unlike BBC News, they did not take the rather obvious step of connecting the shooting to the long low-level separatist campaign in Chinese Turkestan, which BBC News on the other hand did so easily. Moreover, while BBC just said the Uygurs were shot dead, CNN said Chinese police killed them in a shootout (which is a questionable way of phrasing things since even the Chinese police say that the Uygurs were armed with knives though they were shot by police, which is justifiable if the case, but not exactly a shootout).

Yet the second usual claim that American news is extra biased is something that I'm going to object to a little more. I'm not saying there aren't biases in American news, or that perfect objectivity is possible (I don't think perfect objectivity is possible and I think that news readers should be aware of that, but I think that reporters should aim toward objectivity), but barring FOX News and personality-centric news shows (like Nancy Grace, Keith Oberman, etc.), I'd say overall American news is a lot less biased than a lot of other countries, especially my old friend CNN. Take again for example BBC, whose coverage of Uygur-shooting was more in depth (hence giving more room and potential for opinion and shaped depiction), had a stronger bias to its article (not that its opinion on the matter was necessarily wrong), and it more pushed an idea of the Chinese gov. being the real bad guy in the picture. CNN's brief coverage was perhaps a little more biased against the Uygur militants, but its lack of depth gave no claim to making an assessment of the whole of the matter, while BBC in its attempt for analysis does.

But if I was to recommend things, well, if it's an update on a news topic I already know about, I'd rather have the more objective, briefer story, but if it's a matter I've heard less about, well the less objective, more-in-depth might be good.

Still, when it comes to news, I always take the point that news sites and shows and papers are just the starting point. The world can't be summarized even in a whole magazine, even if people tried, but the resources are out there, and so I go out investigating and trying to learn and grasp things. After all, I at least have a vote to tilt things around, I can still send letters and complaints, I can still write, and maybe someday I'll be able to have a greater power of things.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Anywho, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

No comments: