Journalists, Employees of Media Oligopoly

From Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism by Thomas E. Patterson (Kindle Locations 1270-1317):

“If truth were the test, the machinery of news would grind to a halt. Whole areas of public life would be walled off to reporters because judgments about them are speculative. When Woodrow Wilson said he had spent much of his adult life in government and yet had never seen “a government,” he was saying that government is a concept and not an object. 23 How can journalists claim to know “the truth” of something as complex and intangible as government? Political scientists spend their careers studying government without mastering the subject fully. How can journalists with much less time and specialized training somehow accomplish it?”

A very good question. The best journalists know a little bit about many things, but rarely do they know a lot about anything in particular. They aren’t experts in knowledge. Their expertise is simply in communicating, which means they translate and filter the knowledge of other experts. They are middlemen. Most of the time they don’t even understand what they are attempting to communicate, but they must always speak with the authority of the experts they claim to speak for.

“Journalists are asked to make too many judgments under conditions of too little time and too much uncertainty for the news to be the last word. “When we expect [the press] to supply a body of truth,” Lippmann wrote, “we employ a misleading standard of judgment. We misunderstand the limited nature of news [and] the illimitable complexity of society.” 24 3.”

The one thing journalists have little training in is how to communicate complexity. Most of them don’t even try. However, without complexity, there can be no truth.

“Almost alone among the professions, journalism is not rooted in a body of substantive knowledge. 25 The claim is not that journalists lack knowledge or skill, for that is far from true. Nor is the claim an entry into the perennial but ultimately fruitless debate over whether journalism is a craft rather than a profession. 26 The claim instead is a precise one: Journalism is not grounded in a systematic body of substantive knowledge that would protect its practitioners’ autonomy and inform their judgment. 1

“Medicine, law, and the sciences, even economics and psychology, have disciplinary knowledge that guides practitioners’ decisions, narrowing the choices and reducing the chances of error. Journalists have no such advantage. Although there is a theoretical knowledge of journalism, it is not definitive, nor is its mastery a prerequisite for practice. 27 Although a majority of journalists have a college degree in journalism, many have a degree in a different field and some have no degree at all. 28”

I’m constantly shocked that so many news reporters (I’m not sure the fancy word of ‘journalist’ applies to most) are seemingly ignorant about what they report on. Doesn’t curiosity ever get the better of them? You’d think they’d feel some moral compunction to inform themselves first. Instead, it seems like it is just a job to them. They go to the office and someone hands them a script. Or else they wing it and try to appear intelligent.

“Journalists are often in the thankless position of knowing less about the subject at hand than the newsmakers they are covering, a reversal of the typical situation, in which the professional practitioner is the more knowledgeable party. Only rarely do clients know more about the law than do their attorneys , whereas newsmakers normally know more about the issue at hand than the journalists covering them. During the Persian Gulf War, journalists who visited the Pentagon press office were greeted with a sign that read, “Welcome Temporary War Experts.” 29

“The knowledge advantage that newsmakers have over journalists is not simply that they are privy to what’s said in closed-door meetings or contained in briefing papers. 30 They are assisted by experts. The president would never rely on his own instincts across a host of issues without the advice of policy specialists; nor would any congressional committee chair, top bureaucrat, or lobbyist. To be sure, journalists acquire expertise as a result of being on the same news beat for lengthy periods, but this form of expertise does not compare with that of most professionals . Doctors, lawyers, and engineers are masters of their own house in a way that journalists are not.”

In some ways, it isn’t the fault of journalists. They are being asked to do the impossible. No one can know everything or even most things. That is why the author suggests that journalists should specialize and only report on what they are experts on.

“Journalists’ knowledge deficit does not appear to be a major concern within their profession. In 2008, the Knight Foundation created a blue-ribbon commission aimed at strengthening journalism so that it could better serve communities’ “information needs.” None of the panel’s fourteen recommendations spoke to journalism’s knowledge deficit. 31 Yet the public has a sense of it. In a Freedom Forum study, journalist Robert Haiman found that although the public “respects the professional and technical skills [of] journalists,” it feels that journalists “don’t have an authoritative understanding of the complicated world they have to explain to the public.” In the five cities where he held public forums (Nashville; New London, Connecticut; Phoenix; San Francisco; and Portland, Oregon), Haiman heard repeated complaints from local civic and business leaders who questioned reporters’ preparation. “We heard stories,” he writes, “about reporters who did not know the difference between debt and equity, who did not know basic legal terminology used in a trial, and who had little idea of how manufacturing , wholesaling, distributing, and retailing actually work and relate to each other.” 32”

Journalists know little about even the wealthy and powerful they report upon. It isn’t their job to understand because that might mean questioning. If the corporate owners and management of newsrooms wanted informed intelligent journalists, they would hire such people. The point is that news is about business, not knowledge and understanding.

These journalists live in their own media bubble. They know even less about those who aren’t wealthy and powerful. As a college dropout, I know more about many issues, from poverty to racism, than does the average journalist. Having a good looking face and speaking clearly, for the job of journalists, is more important than being informed and insightful.

“If journalists are, as has been claimed, “the custodians of the facts,” 33 their armament is sometimes akin to that of a palace guard. It is difficult to protect the facts in those instances when someone else commands them. 4.”

That is the whole point. Journalists, generally speaking, aren’t independent actors. Most of them are employees. And most of them are employed by big business. They work for corporations that are subsidiaries of a few holders of all of mass media. They are part of a media oligopoly.

“When it comes to a subject of more than average complexity, the truth in news typically comes from outside of journalism. The news media, Lippmann argued, “can normally record only what has been recorded for it by the working of institutions. Everything else is argument and opinion.” 34”

Journalists are just extensions of the organizations and mouthpieces of the institutions they are enmeshed in. Why would we expect anything different from them? Demanding higher standards of the employees of corporations is only meaningful if we demand higher standards of the corporations that employ them. The first higher standard we should demand is a breaking up of the media oligopoly.

Stephen Bloom & Iowa: 2 Anecdotes

The other night I was talking with someone about Stephen Bloom’s article about Iowa. This person graduated from UI for journalism. She didn’t take any classes from Professor Bloom and she hadn’t read the recent article by him, but she did work in the same building as him. She interacted with him enough to have formed an opinion of him as a person.

Going by her description, he doesn’t sound like a nice person. The two anecdotes she offered showed him as being very confrontational and judgmental.

The first anecdote was when she was working in the same building. She needed to get office supplies and so went down to the office supply room. With the supplies in hand, she got back on the elevator where Bloom now was. He accused her of stealing office supplies for no apparent reason, besides her carrying office supplies. It was her job to get office supplies which is why she had a key that allowed to her to open the office supply room. Bloom simply saw a student with office supplies and somehow just knew this person was guilty.

This girl, by the way, is very normal looking and a life-long Iowan. She doesn’t have crazy hair, doesn’t have tatoos, doesn’t dress in any odd way. She doesn’t do drugs or look like someone who does drugs, especially not meth. She has perfectly fine teeth, not yellow or decaying or fallen out. If anything, she is so blandly normal looking as to be easily not noticed. Bloom apparently is just generally suspicious of all Iowans. Since all Iowans are poverty-stricken meth-heads, it follows that they need to steal office supplies to support their habits.

The second anecdote she heard from a friend who took Bloom’s class. He presented a news article about a guy who hanged himself. The article apparently described the incident in some detail and was well written. He asked the class what they thought of it. Many pointed out that it was well written. Bloom then said that the person who died was his friend and he verbally attacked all the students who had made positive comments about the article. After that, he presented a letter-to-the-editor by what I think was the young daughter of the deceased and he praised the letter.

Bloom thought it was mean of the journalist to heartlessly describe the man’s death, but he the implication seems to be that he thought the emotional and subjective expression of the girl was somehow good journalism. This is ironic considering that Bloom was similarly inconsiderate toward Iowans in his recent article, filled with bigoted stereotypes. The difference, though, is that the journalist describing the death was being accurate and Bloom made up a lot of his facts and details… or else over-generalized and exaggerated. Also, it is odd that Bloom believes emotional subjectivity is better than factual journalism. It is apparent that Bloom takes many things personally and so writes his own journalism from a subjective rather than objective position.

How The Press Attacks WikiLeaks, Julian Assange

Not so long ago, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could count on American journalists to support his campaign to publish secret documents that banks and governments didn’t want the world to see.

But just three years after a major court confrontation that saw many of America’s most important journalism organizations file briefs on WikiLeaks’ behalf, much of the U.S. journalistic community has shunned Assange — even as reporters write scores, if not hundreds, of stories based on WikiLeaks’ trove of leaked State Department cables.

Some call him a traitor, responsible for what’s arguably one of the biggest U.S. national security breaches ever. Others say a man who calls for government transparency has been too opaque about how he obtained the documents.

The freedom of the press committee of the Overseas Press Club of America in New York City declared him “not one of us.” The Associated Press, which once filed legal briefs on Assange’s behalf, refuses to comment about him. And the National Press Club in Washington, the venue less than a year ago for an Assange news conference, has decided not to speak out about the possibility that he’ll be charged with a crime.

With a few notable exceptions, it’s been left to foreign journalism organizations to offer the loudest calls for the U.S. to recognize WikiLeaks’ and Assange’s right to publish under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Assange supporters see U.S. journalists’ ambivalence as inviting other government efforts that could lead one day to the prosecution of journalists for doing something that happens fairly routinely now — writing news stories based on leaked government documents.

Moyers’ Journalism vs O’Reilly’s Henchman

In the first video, Bill Moyers demonstrates classy, thoughtful journalism.
In the second video, Bill O’Reilly’s henchman demonstrates classless, faux journalism.
I decided to throw in a third video which is Cenk Uygur ripping apart Bill O’Reilly’s blatant dishonesty.

Pirates? Oh my!

PIrates? Oh my!

Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

The whole pirate situation seems rather strange to me. 

I noticed that finally a pirate ship was destroyed.  In the comments section of that news article, I noticed an insightful comment if true.  The person said that the reason ships didn’t used to be attacked is because they used to carry larger crews including armed guards, but the ship owners beame contented with a false sense of security and wanted to save money.  That makes sense because I thought it was crazy that a ship 3 times as large as an aircraft carrier only had 25 people on it and apparently no protection.  Well, duh, it was attacked.

The strangeness goes beyond this.  The news reporting was so uninformative as if the whole story wasn’t being told by the media.  There is no way to hide a stolen ship 3 times the size of an aircraft carrier.  Then I heard they had hostages which somewhat explains why they were keeping everything on the down low.  However, they said this had been going on for a while and they’ve been paying ransoms.  Why was the millitary only now getting involved?  Obviously, the millitary had to be involved earlier, but wanted to keep it covert. 

The thing is why does the media so often give such superficial reporting that tells you so little?  Where are the investigative reporters who would ask the obvious questions?  Everytime I watch the news, I can’t help but wonder the real story is that is not being told.

Access_public Access: Public 3 Comments Print // Post this!views (118)  
Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 2 hours later

Nicole said

You know, until a few day ago when I saw a Google link about this in my mailbox, I had had no idea how serious a problem piracy is today.

1)Was this the situation to which you refer?

Pirate ship’ sunk by Indian navy was Thai fishing boat, agency says

2) An article I found about the situation is this:

Ship owners urge pirate blockade

The tanker was seized earlier this month and is carrying $100m (£67m) worth of oil. Reports have said the pirates are trying to obtain a multi-million dollar ransom.

Almost 40 ships have been seized by Somali pirates so far this year.

‘No negotiations’

The head of Intertanko said that in response to the surge, many of its members were considering re-routing their tankers around the Cape of Good Hope.

That decision would raise costs by 30%, he said.

Mr Swift said continuing attacks would have a major impact on world trade, but that Intertanko opposed arming merchant ships to allow them to defend themselves against pirates…

Mr Swift said the at-risk area was now so large – encompassing the whole of the gulf and a significant part of the Indian Ocean – that stopping pirates before they reached the high seas might be more effective and efficient than protecting merchant ships…

Kenya reported on Friday that Somali pirates had been paid more than $150m (£101m) in ransoms in the past 12 months.

3) A suggestion on how to stop piracy:

Stop surge in piracy

4) This article is informative and has more statistics about how many pirate attacks there are:

High stakes on the high seas 

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

The original story that I heard was the oil tanker being taken and that was what got me thinking.  That happened before the sinking of the Somali ship.  But it was the latter story that caused me to blog about the piracy.  So, yes, it was the Somali ship I was referring to in my blog.

I have to admit that I don’t generally follow the news too closely, but this particular item stood out to me.  The fact that it was about pirates made it stand out, but also the strange factor that I mentioned.  I heard about it first on NPR which is a fairly reliable news source, but that was what surprised me in that they offered so little info.  It seemed like the type of event that deserved more than a few seconds of reporting.  I then saw something on tv about it and they didn’t really give much more info.

BTW I wasn’t saying that there wasn’t info out there.  When I was wondering about the strangeness, I was only referring to the mainstream news stories I heard.  Of course, my news viewing isn’t very broad and so causes me to have a somewhat biased perception.  If you truly want to know anything in life, you must research it for yourself.
I was talking to someone about the piracy.  They mentioned how it wouldn’t make sense to have armed guards on an oil tanker because you don’t want to have a gunfight going on.  Very bad idea!  lol  However, you’d think an oil tanker would at least have some ships escorting it and those ships could be manned with armed guards.  If this piracy had been going on for a year or so, then why was this oil tanker passing through this area unprotected?  I don’t know.  It just seems strange to me.  Something doesn’t quite add up.

From the last article:

Asking the crew to go to war with the pirates is a little like telling your daughter to fight off an armed mugger, a maritime security expert said yesterday. “It’s bad advice and anyone with a brain won’t do it,”

I thought that was kind of a silly comment.  That is true for smaller vessels, but surely not for a massive oil tanker.  We’re talking about ships carrying merchandise that is worth vast amounts of money.  Any company that can afford to pay millions in ransom isn’t too strapped for cash to pay for security.

The real explanation probably has to do with pr.  Many millitaries especially in the West don’t want to be sucked into dealing with such unsavory situations where many civilians might die in the process.  The same goes for the corporations that own the ships.  They’d rather pay the ransom than have their image tarnished by getting in gun battles.  To really clean out the pirates would be basically starting another war with a group much like terrorists.  But that still doesn’t explain why they weren’t simply avoiding the area in the first place.

Another thing is if this has been going on for so long, why is it only now getting major media attention?  The answer to that likely is related to the fact that its only recently that oil became involved.  🙂

It seems like a complex story which the news media aren’t very good about reporting.  Part of the reason there are pirates in the area might be because we’ve destabilized the local government with our fighting the terrorists.  And to really understand you’d have to go into the socio-political history of Somalia.  To understand the pirates themselves you’d have to do extensive research to figure out whether they’re coming from the local communities or are outsiders taken advantage of the situation. 

Also, they seem rather organized and so who is backing them?  Where is all the ransom money going?  And what is Somalia’s government’s involvement in all of this?  Is anyone talking to the Ambassador of Somalia?  Why doesn’t the news present the insider view of the situation?  I’d like to hear what the locals think of the pirates and an interview with a former pirate would be quite insightful.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 1 month later

Marmalade said

Nicole posted in the God Podthe blog of Joy Bringer which is a posting of an article by another person:

You are being LIED to about Pirates ~ Johann Hari

And my comment to the blog:

Thanks for posting this. I blogged about this issue a month or so ago. I didn’t know enough about it, but my intuition was telling me there was more to the story. It felt like the info I was getting from the media just wasn’t adding up.

This reminds me of the idea of Temporary Autonamous Zones (TAZ). As I understand it, the concept was largely inspired by the historical records about the pirate communites that formed around escaped slaves and criminals and other people seeking freedom and equal opportunity. They were some of the first direct democracy governments to ever exist. Pirates actively fought against oppressive regimes and were fond of freeing slaves from ships.

The idea of TAZ was developed by Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey). He took inspiration both from the pirate communities and the sufi tradition (here). The sufis, like pirates, were used to being an oppressed minority.

Another writer who was inspired by the pirate communities was William S. Burroughs. He never articulated a detailed theory as Wilson had, but it did directly influence his fiction (notably such novels as The Wild Boys and Cities of the Red Night)

As a side note, Wilson certainly didn’t believe that a TAZ could only occur under violently oppressive circumstances. He thought rave culture was a contemporary example, and rave culture has embraced the model. The thing is that a TAZ is usually ignored by the public at large (and the media) unless it disturbs the public peace as “pirates” have the habit of doing.

You are being LIED to about Pirates ~ Johann Hari

Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 by Joy Bringer : Visionary Creator & Artivist Joy Bringer


Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as “one of the great menace of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell — and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the “golden age of piracy” – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda-heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can’t? In his book Villains of All nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks of London’s East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O’ Nine Tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century.” They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.



The words of one pirate from that lost age – a young British man called William Scott – should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live.” In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.”



At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish-stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”

This is the context in which the men we are calling “pirates” have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a ‘tax’ on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and it’s not hard to see why. In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters… We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas.” William Scott would understand those words.

No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But the “pirates” have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalian news-site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking – and it found 70 percent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country’s territorial waters.” During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America’s founding fathers paid pirates to protect America’s territorial waters, because they had no navy or coastguard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?

Pirate Chicken


Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn’t act on those crimes – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about “evil.” If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause – our crimes – before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia’s criminals.

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know “what he meant by keeping possession of the sea.” The pirate smiled, and responded: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.” Once again, our great imperial fleets sail in today – but who is the robber?

POSTSCRIPT: Some commenters seem bemused by the fact that both toxic dumping and the theft of fish are happening in the same place – wouldn’t this make the fish contaminated? In fact, Somalia’s coastline is vast, stretching to 3300km. Imagine how easy it would be – without any coastguard or army – to steal fish from Florida and dump nuclear waste on California, and you get the idea. These events are happening in different places – but with the same horrible effect: death for the locals, and stirred-up piracy. There’s no contradiction.

Thanks to Huffington Post for the article, to Darin for the link & to the anonymous image creators for the fun 🙂


Albert  : Warrior
21 minutes later

Albert said

:):) Ok I confess some pirate romanticism is nice.

What happens in Gulf of Aden is however a real industry. And its good that the German is taking care now for these guys:)

Canary Mary : Quite Contrary
about 10 hours later

Canary Mary said

what a creative and light way to package some horrible truths.

thakns jb!


Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 11 hours later

Nicole said

this is an interesting side to the piracy issue – and that’s a good article, Albert too, on the other side. Food for thought and discussion – another good one to crosspost to the God Pod!

Joy Bringer : Visionary Creator & Artivist
about 12 hours later

Joy Bringer said

Thanks Mary, You are welcome Nicole & Bravo Albert!

Considering the overall situation in the region, this is an expected and ‘creative’ approach of the Somalians to try to ‘take things into their own hands’ symbolically & literally. It might be the case that other nations and groups of desperate people losing their livelihood and sources of income may follow their example. And unless we address the deeper causes and issues we might have to deal with more pirate news for some time of this growing trend & industry.

But we should sleep well for the German & Europe are taking good care of them 🙂 Recently the pirates released a ship even without a ransom!!! Aaarrr!

Albert  : Warrior
about 13 hours later

Albert said

There are bigger troublespots right now:):) worldwide…and I expect Preisdent Elect soon to communicate his roadmap for Mideast. To show us the advisor team, the strategies and express expectations for his European Allies in:

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Israel/Palestine etc….

Then lets talk again:):)

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

Thanks for posting this. I blogged about this issue a month or so ago. I didn’t know enough about it, but my intuition was telling me there was more to the story. It felt like the info I was getting from the media just wasn’t adding up.

This reminds me of the idea of Temporary Autonamous Zones (TAZ). As I understand it, the concept was largely inspired by the historical records about the pirate communites that formed around escaped slaves and criminals and other people seeking freedom and equal opportunity. They were some of the first direct democracy governments to ever exist. Pirates actively fought against oppressive regimes and were fond of freeing slaves from ships.

The idea of TAZ was developed by Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey). He took inspiration both from the pirate communities and the sufi tradition (here). The sufis, like pirates, were used to being an oppressed minority.

Another writer who was inspired by the pirate communities was William S. Burroughs. He never articulated a detailed theory as Wilson had, but it did directly influence his fiction (notably such novels as The Wild Boys and Cities of the Red Night)

As a side note, Wilson certainly didn’t believe that a TAZ could only occur under violently oppressive circumstances. He thought rave culture was a contemporary example, and rave culture has embraced the model. The thing is that a TAZ is usually ignored by the public at large (and the media) unless it disturbs the public peace as “pirates” have the habit of doing.

Rasa : Pelodom
about 14 hours later

Rasa said

is says, “leave your wise and insightful comment”….

i i captain….
“gaia citizens overboard, abandon ship, mates!”
“time to surf the ocean of infinite ages…”

Joy Bringer : Visionary Creator & Artivist
about 17 hours later

Joy Bringer said

Nothing like surfing the cyber ocean & the real & virtual experiences we share Rasa! Aaaarrrrr & OooooHHHH to the piratespirit we share for in this ship we can’t ever/n sink but we may as well as take off and soar…:) You wise & insightful BE as always!

Albert there are bigger & better troublespots for sure & after those moving & visionary messages from Don, Elsa & others to Barack, I am truly looking forward to even bolder strategic changes & actions that will stop this downward spiral… Time to walk the talk, yes? 🙂

Marmalade – those TAZ sound like an interesting way through this pirate  development and I would like to read & learn more about W. Burroughs
Thanks for sharing & presenting us with even larger context & guidance.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 18 hours later

Marmalade said

Hey Joy Bringer – I was just stopping by via Nicole’s thread in the God Pod.

I doubt Burroughs will necessarily help you in understanding about the idea of TAZ or even piratesfor that matter. I just happen to like Burroughs and was making the connection, but he is kind of a dark writer… not for everyone. If you’re interested in TAZ, then just read Wilson.

As for pirates in TAZ, the operative word is “Temporary”. TAZ by definition are temporary. They arise during times of change, but they can never become estblished. If they were established, they’d lose their essence. A TAZ is morally neutral, just a transition stage of a community of people. There are some people who hypothesize that a more permanent version could exist, but I don’t know that there has ever been a real world example.

mum's  the word : Cosmic Explorer
about 19 hours later

mum’s the word said

BOY…..what an awakening call.!  Really get’s the blood flowing when one hears how the rulers played/play their dirty game of pool.
Thanks for the heads up, Joy Bringer.
Going to make sure that my ‘eagle eye’ is going to have a sharp eye on deck while I cruise This ship of mine, of life’s on goings.

Joy Bringer : Visionary Creator & Artivist
about 19 hours later

Joy Bringer said

Thanks for the tips and followup Marmalade. It is amazing where we end up following threads and discussions these days so synchronistically. In times of intense transitions such as these such temporary structures are a must in order to allow a deeper and more comprehensive solutions to emerge. Off to Wilson and more pirate truths 🙂

And if Mum’s the word then we don’t have to worry about pirates & crashes for we’ll be sailing with a daring captain with eagle eye & brave heART! 

 Meenakshi : ~
about 19 hours later

Meenakshi said

In a documentary I saw recently, they had interviewed a pirate who said much the same thing; thereporter [I felt she was really brave!] showed us the polluted waters and how far the kids have to go to get some fish to eat [still polluted if not dead].

Thanks all for the links; it’s necessary for us to be aware.

WonderlandAlli : The Chicken Warrior
about 20 hours later

WonderlandAlli said

Great entry, I really had no idea what exactly was going on over there, I just hear every so often about them chasing cruise ships. It’s good to know why, it’s true they are only reacting to crimes that were first committed against them.

Joy Bringer : Visionary Creator & Artivist
1 day later

Joy Bringer said

Thanks Alli & Menakshi! You are more than welcome!

It is still amazing how we often get bombarded by news that show only the surface of the problem for the sheer drama & entertainment while omitting to even mention the deeper causes. I am glad that there is an increasing number of everyday people, journalists and bloggers who find and share more truths and thus inspire us to be more aware, rethink and act accordingly. 

Off to the virtual stormy seas & literally flooded areas all around, D

Journalists and Bloggers

critical-massing.jpg(Wikipedia) Michael Massing is a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review. Michael Massing received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard and an MS from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He often writes for the New York Review of Books concerning the media and foreign affairs. He has written for The American Prospect, The New York Times, The New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly. In addition to his magazine contributions, he has written on the War on Drugs in his book, The Fix (2002), and on American journalism, Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq. Massing received the MacArthur Fellowship in 1992.

(photo from The Huffington Post)
Michael Massing talks to Charles Petersen about the rise of blogs and the ascent of online journalism.
The News About the Internet (Volume 56, Number 13 · August 13, 2009)
By Michael Massing
The FDL network, The Seminal community blog
By earlofhuntingdon
Grasping Reality with Both Hands blog
By Brad DeLong

Well, I wrote a somewhat extensive analysis which was erased when my computer or the internet went fluky.  Basically, mainstream journalism is too often sadly pathetic and the blogger journalists are the new muckraker journalists who are forcing mainstream journalists to face their biases and their false objectivity.  If democracy is to survive (or made into something more than a pretty ideal), then it will be up to civic journalists to speak truth to power.  It takes someone who isn’t comfortable (who isn’t established and fully respectable) to afflict (call a spade a spade) the comfortable (the rich and powerful).  Mainstream journalism is only as good as the civic journalism that forces it to be good.  Left to its own devices, mainstream journalism (i.e., corporate journalism) would be nothing but propaganda that would destroy democracy at its roots.

Pew News Survey

Trust in news media has reached a new low, with record numbers of Americans saying reporting is inaccurate, biased and shaped by special interests, according to a survey set to be released Monday.

The survey of 1,506 people interviewed in July by the Pew Research Center showed that self-described Republicans continued to take the dimmest view of news organizations, but discontent among Democrats was catching up.

On crucial measures of credibility, faith in news media eroded from the 1980s to the ’90s, then held fairly steady for several years, according to Pew surveys that have asked some of the same questions for more than two decades. But in the two years since the last survey, those views became markedly more negative.

I’m not sure if I’m surprised by this shift in public attitude.  I’ve never trusted the media, and it feels odd that the public has caught up with my cynicism.  I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but it’s nice to see that this criticism of media is bipartisan.  At least, I should give credit to The New York Times for reporting that most people don’t trust their reporting.  I will say that I trust this particular instance of reporting because I’m a fan of Pew polls.

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller

Gerald Herbert, AP
News organizations still go to great lengths to be accurate, according to New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller. But budget cuts mean “facts don’t get checked as carefully as they should,” he admitted.

The Internet also has made it easier to research information and find errors in news stories, said Kathleen Carroll, the AP’s executive editor. And the Web’s discussion boards and community forums spread word of mistakes when they’re found.

That hits the nail on the head.  The news probably was always untrustworthy, but the public was naively ignorant in the past.

When I was younger, I was indifferent to news.  I noticed the news, but I wasn’t a news junky.  I’m Gen X and I’ve never had any loyalty to newspapers even before I discovered the internet.

The funny thing is that I read newspaper articles more now on the internet than I ever did in the past.  I prefer the freedom of choice that internet offers over a physical newspaper.  Also, I never trust a single source and I always check out different views in the blogosphere.

To me, a professional news reporter is not necessarily any more trustworthy than an intelligent blogger.  I don’t judge people solely or even primarily based on their credentials.  I look for intelligence and insight where ever I find it.

I’m a cynical person in general and that informs my mistrust of all media, but this attitude doesn’t seem unusual for other GenXers.  I don’t even trust my local newspaper any more than I trust the major news media.  Journalists are just people with the same biases as everyone else.  Considering mainstream media, I have doubts that most journalists even try to get past their biases.  I don’t think most people intentionally lie, but few people are very self-aware.

What I’d like to see more of is investigative journalism.  Most journalism is just opinions and analysis, but I can get that from blogs.  What I can’t get from blogs is the type of journalism where someone spends immense amount of time, energy and money researching a subect and personally interveiwing various people.

Sadly, the news media seems to mostly to ignore this kind of journalism.  Most journalism seems just to be recycled news from other sources and it’s rare to see new facts and original insight.