Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
May 27, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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May 27, 1990

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9 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC MAY 27, 1990 you (We would seem to be shooting ourselves with this article, but we find it to true of much of the media. -Ed.) One of the most durable myths in the U.S. is the belief that the news edia provide an objective portrayal of al/rent events and an'accurate source finformation. In their recent book, Political Economy of the Mass Me- dia, Noam Chomsky and Edward Her- lall state: "They (the media) serve to 0bilize support for the special inter- ests that dominate the state and private tivity, and their choices, emohases Omissions can be understood best tY.alaalyzing them in such terms." With in mind, what does a reader look t0r to detect bias in the media? ]bisinforn afion . l)isinformation is the systematic, long manipulation of information. The qrrnafion may be true or false; that i 0t the point. How it is used to influ- e the reader or listener is what is l rtant. Disinformation can be ex- ata and examples over a long th eadlines usually are not written by t n:reporter and they do not always ;eft the content of the news article. t attention to the headlines or rifles if they fairly represent the story. "~ h p Otos, captions, the placement ' ertess" ticles and their general, tone to gain of the impression they ere- rely on sources stories. Most common are sources, which means the State Department, U.S. diplomatic corps or of "friendly" nations. on "official" sources, whether by name or not, limits the ( factual information presented and slants the perspective of the article. Over- reliance on "official" sources, or a lack of independent or opposition sources, is often a sign of media bias. When unidentified sources are cited, like "U.S. intelligence experts," beware of possible disinformation. Language Words used to describe a situation or individual often convey a hidden mes- sage. Though we have become accus- tomed to the terms such as "humani- tarian aid" and "freedom fighter," their use should not go unchallenged. The power of language can be exposed by reversing the descriptive terms. Substi- tute "Managna regime" with "Washing- ton DC regime" or describe the U.S. government as "capitalist led" as the sandinistas are called "Marxist led." Double Standards Careful examination reveals a double standard in the coverage of Central America. The word "democracy" best illustrates this. It is used for friends of the U.S., like E1 Salvador and Guate- mala. "Democratization" implies pres- suring Nicaragua to change its political and economic systems. A strong case can be made by examining the double standard that Nicaragua is held to and applying it to other Central American nations. Content Lastly, it is important to remember that what is printed in the media is not always a distortion of the truth, but an outright falsehood. Many newspapers print articles without verifying them; AP and UPI stories of "official" news re- leases are frequently accepted at face value. A little research, an objective and analytical eye, and a few phone calls can go a long way towards uncovering media bias and disinformation. The riext step is to write a letter to the editor, call in to a talk show or visit the reporter and/or editor. Prepared by the Quest for Peace Mtdia Projea, P.O. Box 5206, Hyattsville, MD 20782. Reprinted with permission. ) the world. Better still, there could be exchange of ideas, dialogue, sharing of information, among peoples and cultures across great distances. Closer understand- ing would have a chance to develop be- tween national and ethnic groups. There could be wonderful results from this: justice and peace, good will and active charity, mutual help, love, fellowship, communion. At the end of 1975, Paul VI issued his landmark apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, which summed up the con- clusions of the 1974 Synod of Bishops on the theme of evangelization. IIere once again, the Church is strongly urged to "avail of those powerful instruments (of social communication) which human skill is constantly developing and perfecting" for the "proclamation of the message, for catechetical instruction and for a deeper study of the faith." It is evident that the Church has been giving consistent attention to the devel- opments, technological and otherwise, which have been taking place in commu- nications. It is also known that the Pon- tifical Council for Social Communications has been studying whether some sort of action needed to be taken to bring the Pastoral Instruction on communications up to date. Could it have gone out of date in 20 years? Well, the Pastoral Instruction it- self warned that pastoral planning needed to "sta flexible" where social communi- cations matters were concerned, that the planners had to work in a "fluid situ- ation," and that "keeping pace with new discoveries in this field" called for open- ness and effort. "The Church wishes researchers to know how eager she is to learn from their work and to follow out its practical conclusions." The Pastoral Instruction took care to state that it was making no claim to say the last word. It expressed the hope that its publication marked "not so much the end of a phase Healing & Ventilating Systems I ' Gutter Work ] 508 Scott St. Little Rock 375-8229J Complete boot & shoe repair... l We repair most leather goods. / ooMs / ' l,.V2 vo, to,, / " shoe ser ce l 511W. 7thSt. as the start of a new one." It is time, then, to ask: so what is new in media matters since 1971? An indirect answer to that might be: what would the ordinary reader of a Catholic weekly paper in 1971 have made of a certain type of cartoon appearing in the same paper in 1989? Samples: a mother saying to a very small boy working at his corn- puter: "Bedtime dear. End and save your letter to God." A confessor enquiring of his penitent: "How many computers did you infect with the virus?" Ownership of computers has now come within the reach of very many individu- als and families, for the cost is no longer prohibitive. Apart from electronic mail, other possibilities of interest to the Church are "computer networking" and computer-based "teleconferencing." It is on the creative uses to which these A confessor enquiring of his penitent: "How many computers did you infect with the virus?" new and widely available technologies can be put that the attention of educational and pastoral workers in the Church should be mainly focused on this World Communications Day. There is no prece- dent in the history of the Church for the kind of possibilities they offer, so it is for this generation to discover the ways in which they may be exploited to the limit to bring the Christian message to human- ity. titmfi Ih"s CentUry CH Ib) 114 Kavanaugh 663-4118[ ittle Rock R.H. SAXTON) Our Million Dollar Cookies Cost Only a Quarter! THE BIG APPLI~ De//& Oounmt Coffe House Gt en Mountain Plaza, Little Rock 228-9900 /don.- Sat 10 tll 6 We accept all maJm" ~ e.ards. Chark= &'rherm= Samts]~ (~the gta~ t~a'ish