Little Green Footballs

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Triage

One of the fundamental responsibilities of any information provider, whether it's a wire service, a TV news network, a small-town newspaper, or a weblog, is deciding which stories to cover, and to what extent. Most news organizations follow the time-worn maxim, "if it bleeds, it leads," because lurid tales of death and destruction help to sell papers and ads. Those who criticize the "MSM" for focusing on such stories at the expense of more substantive but less "sexy" items have a point, but such criticism is almost inevitably issued through an ideological filter -- and for every right-wing cause célèbre that is allegedly ignored by the "MSM" (and it's striking how often such claims turn out to be wildly exaggerated, if not completely false), there is a glaring failure to report on ruling-class skulduggery.

Most bloggers are amateurs (and please remember the etymology of that word!) which means that they are not subject to the requirements of the market. But now, as we all know, there are people who want to change that. They envision an marketplace of ideas in which bloggers -- unfiltered, non-fact-checked, unapologetically biased bloggers -- are co-equal with the "MSM" that currently provides most of their material. In short, they want to take blogs, or at least a carefully selected subset of them, to the next level -- whatever that is (and there's some evidence that they're not really sure). But to do this, they will, to put it bluntly, have to grow up. A blog like LGF, which mostly consists of news items that are carefully selected to perpetuate a single notion (in Charles' case, the notion that all Muslims are murderous savages who want us all dead), and that are usually served up with a piping-hot side order of snarling innuendo, might be fun to read, but those who use it and/or its many ideological clones as their primary or only source of information about the Middle East, or the world in general, are -- to put it mildly -- missing a lot.

Which brings us to a natural disaster that has, over the past few days, resulted in a larger death toll than Hurricane Katrina, but has been receiving quite sparse coverage. Charles has yet to mention it at all (nor, to be fair, did we, until now). I'm referring, of course, to Hurricane Stan, which, according to some reports, may have killed 1,400 people in one Guatemalan village alone, and several hundred others elsewhere. By contrast, the total death toll from Hurricane Katrina currently stands at around 1,200.

There are, of course, some perfectly understandable reasons why the MSM and bloggers alike devoted so much more coverage to Katrina, and even to Hurricane Rita, which was a comparatively minor event, than (so far) to Stan. LGF is an American blog, and Katrina and Rita affected many of Charles' readers directly; he probably doesn't have very many acolytes in Central America. Perhaps "compassion fatigue" is also responsible; it has, after all, been an exceptionally active year for natural disasters.

But to us, the differing media responses to Stan and Katrina are symptomatic of a deeper malaise: an apparent belief that some human lives are worth more than others. According to the cruel calculus practiced by Charles and so many of his fellow-travelers, an innocent Iraqi life snuffed out by suicide bombers is worth infinitely less than that of a similarly martyred Israeli. A Palestinian boy shot by Israeli soldiers is not worth mentioning at all. And neither, apparently, are the hundreds and hundreds of destitute foreigners whose lives ended under piles of mud and debris in Guatemala last week.

And lest you contemplate flinging similar accusations against this site, let me just say this: LGFWatch isn't trying to change the world. But Charles Johnson is. And that's why we do what we do.

(Information on targeted relief donation efforts for victims of Hurricane Stan will be provided as soon as we find it.)

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