Time's article has a reoccurring theme found in the mediagreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Take notice of the reoccurring theme found in many media sources. I've seen it in the KC Star and other newspapers. Here's a letter to TIME I wrote which brings these themes to their attention.
Dear Time Magazine:
Your article about Y2K was so predictable it was a alarming. I always thought TIME was above this type of journalism. There are consistently two themes that are discernable in this style of Y2K coverage; TIME is just one of many media sources using them.
THEME ONE: The magazine or newspaper articles always start out by talking about a family who appears to be normal. You know, wife, kids; regular job; middle America sort of folks. But, as the article goes on, the reader starts to see the signs that this family is just a tad bit "over the edge". For instance in YOUR article:
You mention stockpiling food, making sure to note that they have cases of "Chop Suey". (The reader makes a note; nuts!)
You mention that the wife is taking a medical class so she can sew a small wound or fill a tooth. (reader makes a note: nuts!)
You mention the guns; three different kinds. (reader makes a note; militant nuts!)
You mention that the kids tell their friends on the school bus that the whole school system will fail when Americas infrastructure collapses. (The reader makes a note; militant and totally nuts!)
SECOND THEME: Virtually every article quotes Gary North, right wing religious zealot. Why is that? Certainly not because he is the most expert and available source for Y2K information. No! Because he serves YOUR PURPOSE. You even mention how the government is concerned that the religious zealots will cause a panic. It's sad but interesting to note that Gary North, the least qualified expert, is quoted (by far) by the mainstream media more than any other Y2K spokesman.
What is the purpose of your article? Certainly not to disseminate factual information to your readers. There was no effort to do that. Personally, I have printed 10,000 pages of information on Y2K from the Internet; government reports, audits, transcripts, UN meetings, utility 10Qs, corporate disclosures. Why is it that TIME does not access this type of documentation for their articles.
Why? Because TIME is not interested in investigative journalism. TIME is selling the sensationalism of this story and, at the same time helping the US government keep the truth about the seriousness of Y2K from the public.
You do the reader, your customer, grave disservice here. You and I both know, that Y2K is a serious matter; a matter that warrants personal and community preparation. If you do not know this; you have not investigated; and if you havent properly investigated it; dont write articles about it. There is a saying on the Internet; a Y2K pessimist is just an informed optimist.
The citizens of this country need to start contingency planning NOW. Two, three, six months down the line, they will not have the resources saved they can divert toward preparation. It is not the religious zealots that will cause a panic in this country. It is a government that refuses to tell the people the truth and a media that perpetuates the lies.
-- Meg Davis (Meg90999@aol.com), January 18, 1999
as E. coli noted, the media association seems to be
storing food = survialist = militia = terrorist
-- a (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 1999.
Brava, Meg!!!! Go get 'em, girl!!!!! You've inspired me to call media types on their so-called "balanced reporting".
-- Donna Barthuley (email@example.com), January 18, 1999.
OK, Time's article is crapola. Does it matter?
When I ask people their views on y2k, they invariably site either their own experiences with computers or some techie frieind or relative as their reference to how bad it will be. My neighbor works in an office that has "fixed" all of their computers -- THEREFORE y2k is not an issue as far as he is concerned. "We're OK, so I'm not gonna worry about it." End of discussion.
BTW - Does anyone actually read Time...?
-- we're toast (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 1999.
To address the question of Time's readership... Time has a subscription of some 4-5 million (I don't follow it closely), and more than one person usually reads each copy. Plus there is Time's relationship with CNN: as a minor example, I have gone on CNN on Monday morning many times after I worked on a Time story that appeared in that week's issue.
-- Declan McCullagh (email@example.com), January 18, 1999.
Thanks for doing this. I also agree. Man! how did go through 10,000 pages... I think I have only gone through 3,000 so far.
-- Reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 1999.
You say Time magazine was caught slanting the news? I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you!
About 1955 I realized what Time was up to. I've never opened a copy since. It is a magazine with great influence, and uses that influence to provide industrial grade misinformation.
-- Tom Carey (email@example.com), January 21, 1999.