Monday, March 15, 2010

For Oyster, that treif thing, it inspired an earworm.

For me, it called to mind some recent reading:
Jamail knew enough of the inherently flawed embed process, how the lives of the journalists depended on the very soldiers they were tasked with covering. He also knew that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was proving to be especially lethal to unembedded journalists, with attacks from the "coalition" forces, the local resistance, criminals, and the small percentage of combatants from foreign lands. Dahr Jamail, with scant resources, made his way to Iraq, embodying the words of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.: "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one what is right." As Dahr puts it, "I felt that I had blood on my hands because the government had been left unchecked." This is the role of the media, to be this check on power. To be the fourth estate, not for the state.*

"The idea that Sweden's economy is heading for a crash is nonsense...

"You have to distinguish between two things - the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericcson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skovde. That's the Swedish economy, and it's just as string or weak today as it was a week ago...

"The Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn't have a thing to do with the Swedish economy."

- "So you're saying that it doesn't matter if the Stock Exchange drops like a rock?"

"No, it doesn't matter at all...

"It only means that a bunch of heavy speculators are now moving their shareholdings from Swedish companies to German ones. So it's the financial gnomes that some tough reporter should identify and expose as traitors. They're the ones who are systematically and perhaps deliberately damaging the Swedish economy in order to satisfy the profit interests of their clients."

- "And so you think that the media don't have any responsibility?"

"Oh yes, the media do have an enormous responsibility. For at least twenty years many financial reporters have refrained from scrutinizing Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. On the contrary, they have actually helped to build up his prestige by publishing brainless, idolatrous portraits. If they had been doing their work properly, we would not find ourselves in this situation today."**
What am I talking about? Just go read. Now. I'll wait.

It's simply becoming ever clearer that we still must be our own best watchdogs. The Times-Picayune isn't going to do much of it, or, if it does, it will be happening well after the fact. Sure, there's a degree to which we must all get along, but not to the point where we are all turning blind eyes to things that are really going on. If those retired officers hadn't said a thing, we'd still be in a huge mess, left with only our stories of NOPD misconduct and some outright brutality that, unfortunately, now ring truer than ever in light of Lohman's and Lehrmann's revelations.

To be sure, it's not all on the local fourth estate's heads...but they were in a position to give things a mighty push, and they just didn't do it until they absolutely had no choice. And I can't decide if it's just a lack of resources on their part, a certain laziness, be it willful or not....

...or they, too, are very afraid.


*from Amy Goodman's foreword to Dahr Jamail's Beyond The Green Zone: Dispatches From An Unembedded Journalist In Occupied Iraq

**Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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