A news story recently appeared on the Guardian Unlimited newspaper site that may or may not disturb some Americans. It seemed to say that Arabic media, like al-Jazeera, was viewed by Europeans as more trustworthy than any American news source.
I’m an ex-pat living in the UK and my first reaction to that was to say no, it’s not – not in Britain anyway. In Britain people always have and still do trust the BBC above all other news sources. There may have been a time in Britain when American journalism was seen as the brightest and the best, but not while I’ve been living here. That would have been when people felt that the US media was fair and unbiased. That is certainly not true now.
It’s hard to believe that if Americans saw the horrible pictures of the war we have, or heard the interviews with both British and American soldiers who say that they aren’t winning and they want to come home, that the average American would be pro-war.
It is also a little unfair to say that common opinion about the American media is at an all time low when the common opinion about anything American is at an all time low. The people of Britain are just like the people of America — they have various opinions, and it’s also unfair to say all British people think anything. I wouldn’t assume that all Americans are pro-war or believe everything the media report and you can’t assume the opposite about all British people. Both statements are vast over-generalisations.
Then I read the article more closely and what it actually says is that the two have become polar opposites, each reporting only the opposing view of the other, neither actually seeming to report anything like unbiased news. When any organisation or culture becomes too insular it is never a good thing.
What I found more interesting though, was the reaction of some Americans to this story. I wouldn’t really have considered it news. It wasn’t based on fact, just opinion and I don’t consider anyone’s opinion to be newsworthy. Why would anyone consider this news, I had to ask myself? Then, as always, I came up with a brilliant thought – The Guardian thought it was worth reporting.
Why would the Guardian, quite a trusted news organisation, consider this newsworthy? All it is really about are some comments made about Arabic news at a conference organised by al-Jazeera. Of course they’re going to say how trusted it is. And that, to me, makes it even less newsworthy. It is only one organisation’s sycophantic opinion about another.
Opinions may be interesting, they may make me smile with mirth and sometimes I may even shake my head and wonder where someone gets such loony ideas but generally I wouldn’t consider opinions news.
I have a lot of opinions on the decline of American society, but that isn’t what that article was about. I am not someone who stands on either the left or the right, but that is not what that article was about.
If you asked me if I trusted George W. Bush I would have to say no, he is someone about whom I shake my head and think loony. If you asked me if I trusted Tony Blair again I would have to say no, I think he is Machiavellian. But I grew up in a time when you didn’t trust any political figure. And I still don’t.
The Guardian’s article wasn’t about anything. That article was one organisation promoting its own political agenda. Nothing more. And I don’t have an opinion about that.
When I set out to write this little diatribe it was with a lot of trepidation. I was uneasy that I would have to express opinions that may be considered very unpatriotic by some. But that’s NOT what THAT article was about. And so that’s not what this is about.