The Daily Truth – Awards

When did The News become so… well so un-newsworthy? In this age of 24hr rolling news when reporters in the field are more than ever supported by ordinary people feeding in stories and footage via social-media as it happens, what excuse can they have to get some stories so wrong? Yes we know all about the cowed media machines of dictators and totalitarian states, who basically reframe and lie all the time. But what hope do we have when supposedly free western news agencies start manipulating the truth?

Last month I was slightly baffled after watching an interview with one of CNN’s top reporters Christiane Amanpour, in which she decried some country or other for basically feeding its citizens a distorted story by holding back certain facts. However, any regular viewer of CNN will know that the same act of omission is quite often played out a lot closer to home. Yesterday I watched a 26-second anti-rape clip on Youtube, made as a counterpoint to a CNN report on a famous rape case, which went viral with over a million hits in the first 24hrs. It got me thinking, as I often do after watching some news channels: who the hell decides what is and what isn’t news nowadays? Also and perhaps just as importantly, who ultimately decides what angle the story is taken from?

Aaron Blanton and his partner, Samantha Stendal, just won a Peabody Award for the below Youtube clip, made in under an hour, which was the first clip ever to win this prestigious award.

In 2013, two Ohio teens were sentenced to a year in prison after assaulting a teenage girl passed out at a party, filming it and posting the footage on Twitter. The story garnered national coverage after countless internet trolls and townsfolk sent the victim and her family hundreds of death threats and several months’ worth of hate mail. During the sentencing, CNN aired a six-minute segment with two anchors in the studio, a reporter in the field and a separate analyst.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, Candy,” CNN reporter Poppy Harlow said. “It was incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — we literally watched as, they believe, their life fell apart.”

Blanton was floored. “It was amazing! The fact that even one person in that room – thought to take it from that angle, let alone everyone at CNN.” he said, “Oh, and by the way – CNN never mentioned the victim. Never! In the entire segment! And then it ended!” For more on the story click here.

News, distorted or otherwise has never been so available or disposable. It’s here today gone tomorrow and often fed to us in a coldly calculated way intended to protect the national or commercial interests of the company’s host nation or worst still, to pander to the whims of the all powerful sponsors and advertising companies. Perhaps CNN aired the above decried news segment in the middle of a football game, thus ensuring their audience member profile more closely matched that of the male perpetrators than the innocent female victim? Whatever the truth it won’t be the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Even companies that sell themselves with labels such as honesty and integrity and who sniff at more commercial channels are not innocent. Just look at the coverage control the British Government exerted over the BBC in the decade after George Bush declared his War on Terror on behalf of everyone – whether they wanted it or not.

We have all been baffled by the ranking of headlines and could, I am sure, recount a ‘Cat up a tree’ story appearing before ‘300 people were killed today in some train crash in Asia.’ Just this week the BBC lead item was about the stabbing of a single Israeli girl somewhere in the West Bank. This came up before 3 other items that day: A suicide bomb that took over 50 lives; The Russians once again invading the sovereign territory of Ukraine, and The total deaths in the Syrian War reaching 200,000. As awful as the girl’s death surely was for the family, that same day there were 9 stabbing fatalities in South Africa and possibly twice that amount of gun related deaths in the USA.

Niccolo Machiavelli once said “History is written by the victors.” He was referring to older military victories, which often ended in the destruction of the country that lost a war—when, effectively, few people survived to describe events from the point of view of the vanquished. However, in societies that have ever decreasing attention spans, today’s events are increasingly being recorded, for the benefit of future generations, as a collection of news sound-bites, Youtube clips and tweets of 140 characters or less, a number Twitter believe is the longest the majority of their users can manage to hold their attention for.

So in 5 or 10 years time will history recall that November 2014 was famous as the first time a space probe was successfully landed on a speeding comet half a billion kilometres away or will it be remembered as the month Kim Kardashian, a woman simply famous for being famous, took her clothes off for the cameras? Where did this dumbing down all start? The USA is of course notorious for having a large majority of citizens who are rarely bothered by external events or the history of any place beyond its own borders, so is it an American thing?

When it comes to history I, like a lot of Brit’s, have often been bemused and on occasion quite annoyed by the US’s depiction, either in fiction or via some Hollywood movie or other, of historical facts and in particular those surrounding event from the 20th Century’s two World Wars. The movie Saving Private Ryan, which opened with the beach landings on D Day in 1944, did not show a single British, Canadian or other allied soldier in the opening 20 minute depiction of heroism and brutality despite the fact the Americans only landed on two of the five designated beaches. So anyone without a keen interest in history could be forgiven for believing that it was entirely an American success.

Another damning inaccurate attempt at grabbing someone else’s glory came in a film called U-571 about a US submarine crew’s attempt to steal an Enigma machine from a German U-boat in 1942 so the Americans could crack the code. Enigma machines were used by the Nazis to encrypt secret messages before and during the second world war. However, several machines and codebooks captured by the British had allowed the Enigma code to be broken at Bletchley Park on 1 June 1941, at the height of the Battle of Britain, which was a long time before America even entered the war. The achievement is now regarded by many as the most important moment of the whole war as it allowed the allies to intercept top secret messages between the Germans for years before they realised. So at the time of the film’s release in 2000, Tony Blair condemned U-571 in parliament as an insult to the Royal Navy. Although a far more entertaining response would have been for the UK to fund a big-budget revenge epic, in which a small platoon of foppish yet plucky British lads, led by Hugh Grant swans over to Vietnam in 1968, defeats the Viet Cong, and wins that war. Moreover, it would be nearly as accurate as U-571 was.


Anyway, I am minded to hold my own awards ceremony for News Channels based not on content or the faux empathy displayed by some field hack-reporter or other. No there are too many of those back slapping events already – so mine would be ranked on things like: The truth, that days relevance, the angle and other things such as the legacy quality of what is reported. I will award the best as well as the worst of course. So please let me know, name and shame! either to my email address or you can always send them to me via Twitter.


8 thoughts on “The Daily Truth – Awards

  1. Yes fox is in there but my local KGTV has to be up there with it. YES Please Anthony do your awards, I dare you Lol!!!

  2. Great statement on attitudes to rape. Rape is just a commodity to news people, the worst the better. Its not something to advertising over.

  3. I remember about 10 years ago. I think it was just before either Bush’s first or second mid term. this prick on Fox News or Bush News as we use to call it. Well this prick said a vote for anything other than the Republican party is a vote against God. I fear God like any one but pleeeeeeeeeease. if there is a hell then we all know GW has his own private suite of blood and brimstone waiting for him. the worst thing from that segment was the 2 idiot anchors nodding in agreement.

    My list of worst would be 1st That crazy horse woman on North Korea TV
    2nd Tas the Russian TV guys who are even more a mouth piece of the Government than the Soviets ever had and 3rd not sure a toss up between Fox News and maybe Syria or IS TV.

  4. Look no further than Kansas City for a TV company who specialize in the Cat up a Tree story. I swear if a kitten had needed to be rescued by firemen on 9/11 and they thought it would attract more viewers then KMBC TV would have had it as its lead. The same can almost be said about religious angles. Although I admit i’m one of the few around here who don’t make it to Church every Sunday, so I have an opinion, but Enough with the God stuff. You would think he had a seat on the board the way they boil everything down to good or evil.

  5. Ah, but how will you know which one speaks the truth? Anyway, check out the video below – amusing take on how news is reported.:-
    Video for comedian on difference in reporting ebola us and uk► 3:47► 3:47
    24 Oct 2014 – Uploaded by Russell Howard’s Good News
    The Difference Between American and British Reporting on Ebola ….. the majority of the …

  6. Hello I was not sure whether to send my list to your email or your Twitter so I sent it to both. Did you get them? My worst and best 3 could under the right circumstances swap places but you have to start somewhere.

    After I showed my girlfriend the rape Yt she Tweeted and was re-tweeted at least 30 times and counting so now your almost viral my man.

    • Thanks Warren – For future info. Yes you can send comments to here or more private/ less public things to me by email by clicking ‘about’ and scrolling to the bottom (please also say whether you want those comments published) and of course you can always direct mail me or Tweet me on Twitter via @anth_blog

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