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Failure of the Mainstream News Organizations
During his talk, Norman Solomon was extremely critical of the mainstream news organizations. He stated that news organizations primarily followed the information provided to them by government agencies rather than investigate it further. This lack of journalistic work was used to perpetuate false ideas such as the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the noble causes of the American invasion. The implantation of journalists into the army units could have been used to show the problems that the war is causing for the country, but instead, the journalists played into the promotion of the war. Their reports rarely criticized the government, and the war was presented as necessary for democracy.
Concepts of Lesson 3 Illustrated by Solomon
The first concept present in Solomon’s talk is journalism. Specifically, he criticizes poor journalism performed by mainstream media. He states that the function of journalism is to be a watchdog of any actions of the government. If a government official lies, news outlets should report on that, with the investigation of the truth. The second concept illustrated by Solomon is embedded journalism. He described how previously, journalists criticized the lack of access to members of the army during previous military conflicts. However, the government embedded thousands of journalists to work with the army. He described one instance when this approach was used to show the concept of collateral damage, but criticized that it was mostly used for propaganda.
Example of a Current News Story
Although Solomon’s talk was given in 2005, the manipulation techniques that were used at the time are still present in the mainstream media. However, they are amplified by the use of social media by government officials. An article by Chelsea Baile and Erik Ortiz titled “Syria airstrike: Trump declares ‘mission accomplished’ after chemical weapons targets hit” and published on April 15, 2018, on the NBC News site showcases the same issues that Solomon talked about in 2005. The article contains a lot of details but the majority of them are gathered from public responses from government officials, and almost none involved actual journalistic investigation. The article does not question the nature of the missile attack, nor does it investigate its targets. In addition, pro-military action statements made by the government are put at the forefront, without consideration of their effect on how this story is seen by the public. The potential consequences of this attack on the diplomatic relations between the countries of the Middle East and Russia are given minimum attention. If taken out of context the article could appear as a justified attack on the foreign country that would prevent its government from using chemical weapons on its citizens. However, this situation is much more complex.
Solomon’s Arguments are Convincing
Solomon’s talk provided a variety of convincing arguments. Some are convincing based on the evidence he provided such as the correlation between the use of “peace” in speeches made by presidents who waged war, or the case of the United States invasion of the Dominican Republic. However, other arguments gain weight based on how transparent the government’s influence on media is at the moment. With multiple mainstream media sources being owned by benefactors of the president, their news is actively in support of government actions, without any attempt at criticism.
Norman Solomon: War Made Easy. (2008). [Video]. YouTube. Web.