Saturday, November 13, 2010

Excerpts of the Media's Failings [According to World War Z]

Okay, so I get that World War Z is not real, but there are some pretty good points about the way the media works (especially in a crisis). I get it. Part of the problem in World War Z was that the United States didn't really have any cases of the dead coming back to life during the beginning of the outbreak. So it really, really seemed like someone else's problem. You know. Like certain earthquakes, floods, or genocides that are occurring right now.

Or even when certain things are occurring on our shores:

Yeah. Five months ago would have put that..... right around June. Great.

In World War Z,  fictional previous chief of staff defends the administration for not acting more decisively against the outbreak, saying (pg 59):

"Can you imagine what America would have been like if the federal government slammed on the brakes every time some paranoid crackpot cried 'wolf' or 'global warming' or 'living dead'? Please. What we did, what every president since Washington has done, was provide a measured, appropriate response, in direct relation to a realistic threat assessment."
 And really, don't expect the media to do...much of anything (pg 62):
"The 'media'? You mean those networks that are owned by some of the largest corporations in the world, corporations that would have taken a nosedive if another panic hit the stock market? That media?.....
[on alternative news sources] Oh sure, and you know who listens to them? Pansy, overeducated know-it-alls, and you know who listens to them? Nobody! Who's going to care about some PBS-NPR fringe minority that's out of touch with the mainstream? The more those elitist eggheads shouted, 'The Dead Are Walking,' the more most real Americans tuned them out."
This definitely would have been the attitude of the Bush administration. 

Later, a woman recounts what it was like when the outbreak reached America and the Panic started (pg 122):
"You couldn't find a channel with anything but zombie news, either live images or recorded footage from Yonkers. Looking back, I still can't believe how unprofessional the news media was. So much spin, so few hard facts. All those digestible sound bites from an army of 'experts' all contradicting one another, all trying to seem more 'shocking' and 'in depth' than the lats one. It was all so confusing, nobody seemed to know what to do."
  Does that sound like any news media you know? Maybe the one leading up to the Iraq War, maybe the one on September 11, 2001? Or maybe Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

Honestly, if there's one thing that unites all Americans, it that we all think that the news media sucks. We just disagree on why it sucks.

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