edited: Thursday, July 03, 2008
By M.L Bushman
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, July 03, 2008
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Where is the specificity required to ensure a journalist's credibility when reporting on the issues of the day, like the oil futures market?
A novelist learns early to be specific.
A tree is never merely a tree, but a mighty oak or a quaking aspen, a Douglas fir or a Ponderosa pine. The character is not wearing only a red dress, but a scarlet gown, backless, with a slit up one side to there.
In order to allow the reader to suspend their disbelief, and thus buy into the yarn being spun, specificity is required.
The same discipline must be applied by those journalists reporting on the issues of the day to whom credibility is important. That is, if there are any real journalists left.
I can't help but wonder why some or all of media is not being specific in regards to the oil futures market. I mean, if you look at the reporting from the viewpoint of a novelist, you might think there is a conspiracy afoot. The basic questions, the ones that seem to me--novelist and part-time correspondent for a local paper--the most logical to ask, and report on, go unasked and therefore unanswered. Is this by design? Again, looking at that specific question from the novelist's point of view, if a character were a celebrity reporter, the character might not want to give up his or her comfortable digs, his or her wonderful life, especially not to out the specific sharks feeding on his or her countrymen. Not if the character is destined to be one of many antagonists involved in the conspiracy.
Who is doing all the speculating on the oil futures market? Media reports everywhere--in print, online, and televised--say hedge funds and others are pumping unspecified billions into said market.
However, again from a writer's point of view, the generic terms hedge funds and others is the equivalent of saying trees make up a forest. This is not specific. This is lazy writing. What are the names of the specific trees that make up this particular forest of speculators? Are there only a few or many? Who among these unspecified speculators is making the most money? If speculators are small issue to the overall rise of oil prices, then who is making all the money? Who's raking in the dough hand over fist? And why is no one in media asking these questions?
Why isn't insider trading illegal on the futures market as it is on the stock market? No one in media, or even Congress, appears to want to address the issue, let alone report on any specifics. Just how tied into the massive amounts of money being made at the American People's expense are these so-called journalists who seem compelled on an almost daily basis to defend these unspecified speculators from blame?
Yesterday, we have a "government" report stating that inventories of oil in the US dropped "unexpectedly" from the week before to the tune of approximately 100 million barrels. The media did not appear interested enough to make much of a fuss about this "report," although I'm sure it must've had some effect, however minute, on the price of a barrel of oil rising over $145.00. So, where did all that unexpected oil go anyway? Did we all pick one week to drive more than in all the weeks prior? According to yet another government report, we are all driving less here in the States. Demand for gasoline is down. Why is no one in media questioning this apparent discrepancy?
Who or what is the source of the data behind these government reports? Who specifically gathers and reports this data to the government? Who ensures the accuracy of the data behind this and the many other reports? Why is the media in all its forms--print, televised, and electronic--wholly ignoring the issue of insider trading in the futures market?
In fiction as well as in life itself, a tree is never merely a tree, hedge funds and other speculators and/or inside traders have names, government "reports" should have verifiable sources. Where are the specifics, where is the credible reporting? Do colleges not teach journalists the basic tenets of writing anymore?
When we the People finally get so fed up that we gather in living rooms across America to talk specifically of effecting our nation's return to the Constitution for a second try at this American experiment, will we see the media as our friend or our foe? Or will your lack of credibility, your most obvious inability to ask questions and then apply the most basic of writing concepts--specificity--to your reporting come back around to haunt you?
I would love to read that one of you, just one, cares about the people suffering this very minute from a do-nothing Congress and a predatory Federal Reserve, not to mention the unnamed speculators and/or inside traders that may or may not have some part in driving up the price of oil, but then I'd need some specificity to guarantee your credibility in order to suspend my disbelief.