Annoy The Media. Think For Yourself. September 27, 2015
Two stories I read today bugged me because in the classic journalistic sense, both buried the lead.
Story #1: NY Times Headline: Thousands Enter Syria To Assist Militants in ISIS.
Sub headline: Nearly 30,000 since 2011.
Online, it appears this way:
Thousands Enter Syria to Join ISIS Despite Global Efforts
So immediately we are all to think the situation is worse than ever, that is until we start reading and find that this huge number is a bit larger than previous estimates and is cumulative. It’s not like 30,000 have joined SINCE the efforts to stop them have begun. More importantly, buried way deep in the story is the following information:
“ISIS no longer has the momentum in its core territory of Syria and Iraq,” said Peter Neumann, director of the center and a professor of security studies at King’s College. “It’s no longer the ever-expanding jihadist utopia that it seemed to be.”
So while the headline screams “deteriorating calamity,” what we actually learn is that ISIS’s expansion has been halted and as we learn elsewhere in the article there is a growing trend of defection and people speaking out against the ISIS Utopian myth.
This is a classic case where the media wants you to read a headline and panic even though the very delivery system of this particular freak out contains all the information you need to take a deep breath and understand all is not lost. Yet.
Story #2 Washington Post Headline that reads:
Donald Trump says the media underestimates his crowds — and him
This one is worth citing because while it’s headline suggests Trump is being wronged by the media, it covers him at a state fair in Oklahoma City where the crowd clearly loves him. That’s pretty good coverage in my eyes.
Here’s the issue with this story: it never bothers to point out to the reader that there’s no explanation for Trump being in Oklahoma, other than his mission to go anywhere he can find a friendly crowd. That’s not a presidential candidate. It’s an Off Broadway show.
The first contest for the nomination is Iowa. The first actual vote, in New Hampshire. Then comes South Carolina. Oklahoma doesn’t come into play until March, on a day when (as of now) 14 States, including delegate rich Texas will vote. So why is Donald Trump, the Manhattan Billionaire, hauling his 747 to the heartland at the end of September 2015? My guess is that is where he was able to find a crowd.
And the net-worth of that crowd? That’s what I’d like to see the media figure out, both with and without Trump in attendance.