Thursday, June 12, 2014

Excellent work by Brian Anse Patrick: NRA 2014 Annual Meeting: Reality Versus News Coverage

This excellent article is well worth reading.

I came. I saw. I listened. So did about 75,000 other persons from just about everywhere in America: Ohio, Texas and even the wild reaches of the Bronx. Some attendees even reported on the event. Quirkily.

The Guardian’s Ana Marie Cox in her column of April 28 summed up NRA’s annual meeting: “NRA is at war with America.” Her April 25th column had noted four gun-related deaths in the Indianapolis area around the time of the convention. So what was NRA doing about criminal violence among black urban youths? There it was in black and white—that evil NRA gun lobby, the boogeyman of a thousand media reports. Drawing yet another connection, Ms. Cox reported that a local gun dealer, just a few miles from the NRA meeting, “supplies criminals with weapons.” So it’s like that? Really Ms. Cox? What penetrating reportorial vision!

How profound. How ironic. How silly.

Ms. Cox’s columns on the NRA meeting may titillate suburban British audiences who presumably have derived their knowledge of America, and their vicarious thrills as well, from GP- and R-rated gangsta movies. Snugly cocooned New York apartment dwellers on the upper west side may also find the reports compelling. I would guess that the imagined verisimilitude of such reporting depends on the degree of mediation of the experiences of the audience. Cox produces excellent market-ready commercial journalism in the sense of a well-crafted more or less seamless product that conveys cartoon-like explanations to a mass urban market that is in need of easily digestible interpretations of the meaning of distant, inexplicable events in that curious country called America. In this sense the news consumers of NYC’s upper west side and London are probably little different.

But isn’t this sort of journalism really no more than a creative game of connect-the-dots? Depending on which dots are connected, and which are ignored, the picture changes. Junk food journalism for shut-ins or the socially insulated may be good business, but is it “news” in the sense of a fairly reliable report of an event?

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