[SPORK?] The Rise of the Reporters

Jeff Bone jbone@deepfile.com
Tue, 25 Mar 2003 00:45:59 -0600

It's been evident (IMHO) for a long time that the "big story" of the 
90s wasn't computers, or the Web, or buddy lists, or cell phones, or 
PDAs, or blogs, or any of the stuff us pure geeks probably immediately 
think of.  Some of those stories might be the big stories of this 
decade --- but the effects of all of the above, really, on a global 
scale, were in the 90s wildly overstated.

The big story of the 90s went largely unreported --- because news 
itself isn't usually news.  Seems to me that the big story of the 90s 
was the meteoric rise in global importance of television news networks 
in shaping world opinion, shaping the course of world events, and 
making the conduct of international relations a real-time endeavor.  
And of course, CNN really started this and came of age in the crucible 
of Baghdad '91.  To an even greater extent, global media is coming of 
age in this current conflict.

This whole "embedding" thing has me totally fascinated.  I heard a top 
Pentagon official on one of the networks a night or two ago talking 
about how they get real-time battle intel from these networks more 
often than through the chain of command.  And the embedding thing isn't 
just our reporters:  I'm watching Aaron Brown on CNN talking to 
reporters from many countries and outlets --- including Muslim media 
and *France* --- that are embedded with our forces.  (FWIW, the Arabic 
news networks have forces embedded w/ Iraqi forces, too.  Ironically, 
the viewers of Al Jazeera and some of the other 9 or so similar 
networks *potentially* have better access to more balanced information 
than we do.)

Real-time, largely non-partisan (face it, most at least try for some 
level of objectivity, though they succeed to degrees according to 
different agendas;  but in general their value is diminished to the 
extent that they editorialize and spin the bitstream) private sector 
intelligence agencies.

And they've become almost sacrosanct --- they go everywhere, see 
everything, say whatever, and are pretty much untouched and unhindered 
by the national collective organisms and interests they operate within. 

Truly fascinating.  Powerful force for good.  Powerful force for evil.  
Suspicion warranted, but I can't help but feel kind of awed.  A 
30-minute scan of CNN, Fox, etc. today --- supplemented with broad 
reading of international online newspapers to triangulate and balance 
--- probably gives any one of us access to more information of equal or 
superior quality than the information that intelligence officers in 
this or any other country had from a year's intelligence gathering two 
decades ago.  We're more immediately and better informed more than the 
guys that made global policy during our parents' era.

Wow.  Go CNN, et. al.  ;-)