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Saturday, January 15, 2005

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Media analysis with insight

Cori Dauber pierces the veil and reveals the boogyman behind the platitudes.
On the surface, the Post's Anthony Shadid appears to be writing an article about Iraqis who are optimistic about the coming elections -- and on page 1 no less. And I'm sure he thinks he's done that. (Look here, they can't say I'm always negative, right here on page 1, here's an article that says Iraqis, Iraqi intellectuals no less, are optimistic about the elections. I'm sure that's what he's thinking.) That's because the suggestions that the situation is negative, the the war itself is a negative thing for Iraq and the Iraqis, are so subtle, he may not realize he writes this way.

For example, he writes:
Iraq's first competitive elections in decades are an oddly subdued affair. Violence lurks menacingly over the process, which will end with the selection of a new parliament on Jan. 30. Candidates' names are not published, for fear of assassination. Rallies are few, posters are often torn down, and hardly anyone can describe a party's platform, much less its nominees.
No part of that description is in any way qualified. There is no suggestion, in other words, that violence lurks over the process only in some places, or that the election is a subdued and fearful affair only in some places. Writing the paragraph that way therefore implies that the opposite is true, that the description applies to the entire country.

Yet aren't we being told that in fact this description only applies to the Sunni areas? Sounds like the Shia areas are plenty excited. Not at all subdued. He's describing the smallest part of the country as if it were the entire country. Again.

What is it with these guys? Didn't they learn in college that it's a logical fallacy to assume that the part can stand in for the whole?
Why is it that all we seem to do these days is question what's going on with the media?