Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

TV War Coverage and the Word

I have watched many hours of TV news since the war started. I not only wanted to see what was going on, but also wanted to see what "spin" was being put on developments (or, maybe it should be re-phrased, what spin was being placed on non-developments!). Well, I am reporting to you that I am massively unimpressed. The coverage is pedestrian and prosaic and unbelievably repetitious. In one hour of FOX, for example, I watched them run the exact same footage of the peripheries of some skirmish at least four times. Almost nothing was explained about what we were watching. It is not true that a picture is worth a thousand words; it is not worth a hundred good words! The particulars of the events the camera sees have to be interpreted and explained. Besides, it is easy to get the impression that what the camera is seeing is really important (and it is not necessarily so). Perhaps this explain why some TV stations have taken to run some excellent still photographs of discrete individual events like a Marine carrying a wounded child away from the battlefield. This also explains why Ken Burns’ Civil War was so popular and so well done: discrete individual shots of things that are then explained or interpreted, usually poetically. If we had moving pictures of the battle of Gettysburg, it wouldn’t be as meaningful as the still shots of the battle and its aftermath. So for simple information on what is happening in Iraq I will stick with the blog sites I have mentioned to you already, The Command Post and The Agonist. In the end, nothing can replace the word. To paraphrase Lincoln, the great invention of the world is not television, but the word. Take this example that David Tucker brought to our attention a few days ago of an officer giving a speech to his men before they go into battle. He is Lt. Col. Tim Collins (age 42), commander of the Royal Irish battle group. Read this and tell me if Demosthenes ever did any better!

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