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Smoke, Mirrors, and Fox News

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During the last half of the 1930's, Europe was flooded with journalists from America, who were being paid to report on the ominous developments that indicated a trend towards fascism was occurring, and they became the subject for   trend spotting item for historians to unearth.   Concurrently radio was in its Golden Age stage and Hollywood was about to release the movies that marked the high water mark.   Critics agree that the films receiving Oscar - nominations for 1939 were a remarkable collection of excellent movies that has never been equaled in the following years.  

What makes 2013 different from 1939?   How good is radio these days?   In typical Irish style we'll answer that question with another question:   Was there more or less political propaganda on radio in Germany in 1939 or in the USA today?   In the late Thirties in Germany, citizens caught listening to foreign radio stations were dealt with in a very severe manner.   Why doesn't the app that lets Americans listen to American radio stations on their cell phone let them listen to foreign origin radio stations?

Have the movies gotten better?   An obsession with maintaining political correctness while attracting the largest possible number of paid admissions has rendered cinema moribund.   How many Ten Best lists included "Killer Joe"?   Is regimented thinking a bad symptom in a country that was founded on the principle of freedom of speech?   Ja,wohl!

How much demand for foreign correspondents is manifest in American Journalism today?

CBS had a list of foreign correspondents in Europe in the Fifties that was on the "all star" level.   Today about the only foreign correspondent working in Europe that we can name is Silvia Paggioli and she works for NPR.  

Do the students attending college this year have any idea who Gerda Taro was let alone consider her a woman's lib role model?  

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat history but what happens when the young generation is discouraged from learning history at all?

Back when LBJ was in the White House, the current issue of the French language magazine Paris Match was sold on the newsstand in the PanAm building each week.   (Where?)   Recently Al Jazeera bought Current TV as a way of gaining entree into the American media market.   So far the response seems to be a cold shoulder reception.   Copies of Paris Match are available in Berkeley Public Library each week, but due to postal delivery the latest issue may be a tad outdated.  

Are foreign language magazines (and points of view) a superfluous, unnecessary expenditure in a country that has renamed French Fries as Freedom Fries?   Has Freedom of Speech become an expensive, useless luxury in a time of austerity budgets?

Yes, you can use your Interenets connection to read foreign language web sites if you can read and understand sites using foreign languages or can fiddle with the "translate this page" option, but the few that do can easily be dismissed as unpatriotic conspiracy theory nuts.

Reportage in Washington has become a breathless scramble for spin rendering journalism into a copy of coverage of Hollywood luminaries.   When was the last time you encountered news using the phrase "an investigation has revealed" rather than "according to a reliable source"?

Rogue pundits out in the boondocks have as much chance of uncovering a scoop as do the members of the in crowd in D. C.    Neither group is going to get anything but announcements and news releases because everything that happens now in D. C. happens behind closed doors and journalists sit back and wait for the official press release to be delivered to their desk.

While the World's Laziest Journalist was in the process of writing this column, we encountered a used copy of James Fallows' 1996 book "Breaking the News (How the Media Undermine American Democracy)" for fifty cents.   We have read that book before but our copy of it is still out on loan somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area so we bought a new used copy to refresh our memory.  

If well educated Americans didn't heed Fallows' 1996 warning what would be the use for this columnist to finish writing this column in early 2013?   On a cold day with rain in the forecast for Berkeley CA, it boils down to a line from "Rebel without a Cause:"   "We gotta do something."

On page 74, Fallows starts off chapter three by saying:   "Any reporter born before 1965 did not go into journalism for the money."  

Was he trying to imply that Robert Capa got his self kilt for altruistic reasons?

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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)
 

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