Lying By Omission
Journalistic integrity is all-important in the modern news media. Without it people wouldn’t buy newspapers or trust the TV news, so building credibility is crucial; which is why the following lines from an expert in psychological warfare should be borne in mind when scrutinising today’s news:
“If you give a man the correct information for seven years, he may believe the incorrect information on the first day of the eighth year when it is necessary, from your point of view, that he should do so. Your first job is to build the credibility and the authenticity of your propaganda, and persuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy.”
A Psychological Warfare Casebook Operations Research Office Johns Hopkins University Baltimore (1958)
But sometimes it is not what the media says that is important but what it doesn’t say. For example, in reporting shootings at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia recently the media ignored a couple of salient points. In brief Nigerian student Peter Odighizuwa went on a shooting rampage killing the dean Anthony Sutin, professor Thomas Blackwell and student Angela Denise Dales. Although the victims were white and Odighizua was black the media were at pains to point out that the killings were not racially motivated.
However they omitted to say that two other students, both gun owners, had prevented further killings by using their own legally owned weapons. When Odighizuwa began firing panic erupted but Anthony Sutin and Mikael Gross retrieved their guns, challenged him and forced him to disarm.
Yet out of more than 280 news reports hardly any actually mentioned this fact; instead the Washington Post reported that the heroes had simply “helped subdue” the killer while The New York Times noted only that the attacker was “tackled by fellow students.” Likewise other media who reported the attack said: “students overpowered a gunman,” “students ended the rampage by tackling him,” “the gunman was tackled by four male students before being arrested,” and “Students ended the rampage by confronting and then tackling the gunman, who dropped his weapon.” Out of more than 280 reports only 4 mentioned the fact that the students who tackled him were actually armed.
Source: Phil Brennan NewsMax.com 2-2-2
“You get your information from the daily press. Yet that is the very last place on earth to seek for truth in any state or form.” Emma Goldman March 1, 1933
Last updated 14/02/2003