May 11th, 2006

Tansfer wiki October 25 Wednesday//Walter Lippmann, the truth and news is not the same thing...


Steel, Ronald (May 1, 1999). Walter Lippmann and the American Century. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0765804646.

The press (had become) literally the "bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determine its conduct." But was the press providing the reliable information the public needed? Lippmann's propaganda work had made him realize how easily public opinion could be manipulated, and how often the press distorted the news. To test his theory that the public was being denied access to the facts, he decided to conduct an experiment. Enlisting his friend Charles Merz, he examined press coverage of a crucial and controversial event, the Bolshevik revolution, for a three year period beginning with the overthrow of the tsar in February 1917. They used the New York Times as their source because of it reputation for accurate reporting.

Their study, which the called "A Test of the News" came out as a forty two page supplement to the New Republic in August 1920 and demonstrated that the Time's coverage was neither unbiased nor accurate. The paper's news stories, the concluded, were not based on facts, but were "dominated by the hopes of the men who composed the news organizations." The paper cited events that did not happen, atrocities that never took place, and reported no fewer than ninety-one times that the Bolshevik regime was on the verge of collapse. "The news about Russia is a case of seeing not what was, but what men wished to see," Lippmann and Merz charged. "The chief censor and the chief propagandist were hope and fear in the minds of reporters and editors." The reporters, in other words, relied on hearsay and their imagination; the editors allowed their prejudices to infect the news columns. Even though few newsmen had deliberately tried to suppress the truth, most were guilty of a "boundless credulity, an untiring readiness to be gulled, and on many occasions a downright lack of common sense." Their contribution to public knowledge at a time of supreme crisis was "about as useful as that of an astrologer an alchemist."
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How the media affects the way we think


In 1922 Roscoe Pound undertook a detailed quantitative study of crime reporting in Cleveland newspapers for the month of January 1919, using column inch counts. They found that whereas, in the first half of the month, the total amount of space given over to crime was 925 inches, in the second half if leapt to 6642 inches. This was in spite the fact that the number of crimes reported had only increased from 345 to 363. They concluded that although the city's much publicized "crime wave" was largely fictitious and manufactured by the press, the coverage had a very real consequence for the administration of criminal justice. Because the public believed they were in the middle of a crime epidemic, they demanded an immediate responded from the police and the city authorities. These agencies wishing to retain public support, complied, caring "more to satisfy popular demand than to be observant of the tried process of law" The result was a greatly increased likelihood of miscarriages of justice and sentences ore severe than the offenses warranted.

Jensen, Klaus Bruhn (May 10, 2002). A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. UK: Routledge. ISBN 0415225884. p. 45-46

Pound, Roscoe; E. Frankfurter (1922). Criminal Justice in Cleveland. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Foundation. p. 546