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Why reporting sucks, and why reading comprehension matters - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Why reporting sucks, and why reading comprehension matters
With regard to the tsunami that struck Japan this morning, I'm going to donate to... someone... as soon as I figure out who's legit.

But here's what bothers me about the reporting. Yesterday, the Internet was all abuzz with a meta-story about a New York Times story about the rape of an 11 year old girl by 18 men. The reporter's callous, blame-the-victim, "what did she do to draw those young men into such an act," "those boys will have to live with this for the rest of their lives," "this is going to destroy our community," writing got under people skin and infuriated them.

One of the main complaints was how the men were absolved of any agency. It wasn't "Why did the young men do this?" but instead, "How could the young men have been coerced into such an act," as if they didn't have any responsibility at all for their actions. In fact, the word "responsible" (or "responsibilty"),appears nowhere in that story.

Compare that with this article today about Japanese building codes saving thousands of lives.* The article praises "The Japanese" for spending billions of dollars upgrading their infrastructure, installing seawalls, and uprating building codes to survive major earthquakes.

You know what word never appears in that story? "Government." These are government building codes, imposed by the leadership in Tokyo, that managed to keep the death and devastation down. It is the government's strict regulation that made the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as solid as it is. It is the government's swift response that is mitigating the disaster even as we speak.

A friend of mine mocked me for my complaint by replying, "Everybody knows who issues building codes. It's not the corporations."

She, like me, is fond of the game we call "politics." Of course we know. But as a survey from Cornell University points out, most Americans don't know where building codes come from. 44% of Social Security recipients answered "No" to the question, "Have you ever used a government social program?" 43% of Pell Grant recipients, 25% of Food Stamp recipients, and a whopping 47% of people who have received an Earned Income Tax Credit believe they've never received any assistance from the government.

The New York Times won't tell you who is responsible for anything. They don't dare raise the ire of their plutocratic corporate masters by telling you.


* I meant originally to write, "thousands of lives" but the string "millions of dollars" come out of my fingers instead. I fixed it. Even I am not immune to the plutocracy's basic programming: super omnia lucrum: profit before everything.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
slfisher From: slfisher Date: March 11th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
(applause)
kengr From: kengr Date: March 11th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Don't forget all the folks who seem to be completely unaware that their Medicare is a government program (and "socialized medicine" at that)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 11th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps we need a metaphorical Government Programs Pride Day and Parade, where metaphorical representations of government programs could march down the street, shouting, "I'm a government program and I'm proud!"

Then these programs could finally come out of the closet.
mouser From: mouser Date: March 12th, 2011 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I've always considered EITC to just be part of the formula they use.

That said, I'm former military so I actually don't think you go far enough with the analogies.
shunra From: shunra Date: March 12th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Never mind building codes. Have you ever found yourself talking to a person who thinks roads are a natural landscape feature, despite all evidence to the contrary? (But roundabouts are government creations and must be battled in mortal combat.)

Good catch on the NYTwit's evasion of responsibility/accountability!
_candide_ From: _candide_ Date: March 12th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I have just one reaction:

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
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