Danny Schechter's account of the Reuters tsunami roundtable went beyond just tsunami coverage to the question of what the public can do to push the news media to improve its coverage, especially on international stories. He writes:
...when asked what people should do to get better coverage, the impressive Daniel Okrent of the Times put it in one word: "AGITATE," And then this agust ombudsman of the newspaper of record added two more "MAKE NOISE."
He said that's the only things that works. And he should know.
The blogs sure make noise, and the media is clearly listening. The Eason Jordan resignation and the Jeff Gannon affair are the two most recent examples.
He cites a letter by Media for Democracy, with which he is affiliated, raising three "urgent issues" highlighted by the Eason Jordan affair:
1. Do media executives have a right to express opinions that deviate from the official line? Media companies should defend the rights of their employees to take part in democratic debate without fears of recriminations. The conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and the World Editors Forum have rushed in to defend Jordan's right to express controversial opinions without intimidation.
2. Do media companies have an obligation to investigate and not just denigrate? CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, AFP and other media outlets should take a fresh look at these charges to determine their validity. At least eleven journalists have been killed by "friendly fire" since the War in Iraq began, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Thus far there has been little effort by the Pentagon to explain their deaths.
3. Are we who care about integrity in the media willing to stand up to protect free speech during a time of war? While this issue is often spun as a left-right story, it's about much more than that. We are all paying dearly for this war. Shouldn't we Americans have a right to know what's being done in our name?
Reuters, the International Federation of Journalists and other press freedom groups have pressed for independent investigations of suspicious killings in Iraq. The Pentagon has refused to cooperate or permit journalists to interview soldiers involved in these incidents.
What's the truth?
Whether you stand on the left or the right, you have to admit, these are good questions. If viewers and readers don't push the news media to pursue the truth on this issue, we'll probably never get it. Just lots more rumors and insinuations and accusations back and forth.