I agree with Jeffrey Shaffer ("If we had the 'full story', could we grasp it?" March 25) and would not like to receive a 500-pound paper on my doorstep every morning. The media today, in particular the Internet media, are a wonderful source of information, all of it biased - simply by the choice or screening of "facts," if nothing else. I read, almost daily, excerpts from more than a half-dozen major American newspapers and then proceed to the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Guardian, Al Jazeera's English website, and other international news sources.
From that, and my own eclectic reading and educational background, I can make my own educated précis of what is happening. While many people would not take the time to do this, it takes not much longer than watching an hour-long TV show to get through the bulk of it.
So my 30-second summary on the Middle East for Mr. Shaffer is this: It's a mess, messier than most realize. It won't be solved easily or soon. No one has the answers, certainly not the American military or Al Qaeda, nor very few, if any, of the politicians.
OK, not 30 seconds, but at least the message is short and, well, not so sweet.
Vernon, British Columbia
In regard to whether we could understand the information if we were given full coverage of news events: I would say yes, we are intelligent enough to process the information if we are given all of the facts. I am a white non-Muslim American and I am just completing a one-week vacation in Egypt. If the American people saw the photos of civilian casualties that I have seen every day in the newspapers, I can guarantee we would no longer be in Iraq.
We need to get out of Iraq and let Iraqis function as they choose without our interference. We have destroyed a country and a culture and set them up for a civil war.
The simple solution to the dilemma presented by Mr. Shaffer would be to write the same news stories that are being written, but just add at least one other varying view, point by point. This is hardly a new idea, and not difficult to implement. And it would not require volumes of ink to do it - one paragraph in regular print, an opposing paragraph in italics, or whatever.
This would be very healthy for the news media and the general public, in that all - including the writers and editors - could benefit from the additional intellectual stimulation and thought.
There are at least two sides to every story, and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. It'd be a good idea for the media to keep this in mind, and to demonstrate it in their articles.
Long Beach, Calif.
Regarding your March 18 editorial "What Is a Journalist?": The media's lack of credibility does not arise from the bloggers - that's too easy. One potent reason for this lack is the fact that the Internet has made it possible to read the papers of other countries and compare them to what we read here - making obvious that the rest of the world does not feel as we do about the Iraq war and that our media have toed the Bush line. (Of course, that reflects on its credibility!) It is also true that the Internet now allows us to speak with people directly on the ground everywhere in the world, and we can compare what they say with what we read. Finally, some bloggers are simply better informed than journalists.
I conclude that our media will lose if it fights blogging and Internet communications. It has to learn to respect them and value them for keeping traditional media honest.
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