Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Linda Foley's Context and Asides - A Comparison

Linda Foley has excused her remarks on May 13 at the 2005 National Conference on Media Reform where she accused the US Military of targeting and killing journalists in Iraq. Ms. Foley has said it was taken out of context and that it was an aside. (For reference, I've posted a transcript of this speech, here.)

The context had been clear, the words are the words, but it may be that Ms. Foley meant the context of media consolidation, which was the topic of the conference. However, the substance of her talk centered on the continuing and growing repression of journalists' ability to do the story, to make a difference. Clearly, her remarks were not outside her overall intention to speak of the problems journalists have in the era of media consolidation.

So, how about her excuse that it was an aside? There are two types of asides as best I understand the term being used. One is an off topic aside, often a tangent and one that is spur of the moment and not originally planned. The other is an aside not meant to be heard by others. This latter meaning of aside is the one often used in theater, where the actor speaks but not to the audience the actor wants to shield the spoken words from.

So, which meaning of aside did Ms. Foley intend? Maybe we should take into consideration her speech at a Conference on Media Consolidation held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on 11 May, 2005, just two days before she made her more detailed and now more widely publicized, remarks in St. Louis at the 2005 National Conference on Media Reform.

In this earlier speech, Ms. Foley's again had a similar but somewhat less detailed accusation on physical targeting but a much more specific example of targeting with criticism. Here is a transcript of her remarks on targeting:

"And then, finally, this notion, and we heard a little about this last night of targeting journalists, um, both physically, in places like Iraq, where a record number of journalists have been killed, um, 63, I think, was the last count."

"Um, or, um, or even in this country, where there's always, no matter what the story is, if the story is about, um, about George W. Bush, ah, not serving in the National Guard, ah, or missing out on his Guard Service, ah, during Vietnam, ah, and then it turns around, they, they blame the media and all of a sudden, blaming the media and blaming Dan Rather and finding, ah, and looking for mistakes that Dan Rather made, becomes the story."

"So, the journalist, instead of George Bush's service, becomes the target. Ah, there is a blame the media, meaning blame the reporters, ah, feeling in this country that we need to change. You can't keep targeting reporters and news people and expect them to do their jobs in a way that is conducive to public discourse."

(Jackson's Junction should have now has the audio clip of Ms Foley's remarks at this conference. soon. :-o For the record, the original audio of Linda Foley's speech is available, at this time, anyway, at Podcast Directory and can be downloaded by clicking the entry "Conference Coverage: Orville Schell, Linda Foley, Danny Goldberg, and Seymour Hersh". Be careful because there is an error in the description for the DL just above this one which also notes her name but which is incorrect. Anyway, her turn at the microphone begins at 17:00 and the above remarks begin at 28:47 and end around 30:01 on the mp3 file.)

So, this was not unfortunate tangent Ms. Foley got off on. It was a planned part of the speech at both occasions. One difference that is noticeable is that the Conference at UIUC was free and the public was invited to attend this event, whereas the Conference in St. Louis was not. Here are a few of the FAQ's regarding the conference at the Free Press website:

"Who should attend the conference?
The conference is for anybody who wants to be involved in efforts to reform our media. Activists, policy makers, journalists and other media workers, scholars, students, artists, and concerned citizens will all find opportunities to learn, share, network, and engage at the conference.

What are the registration fees?
The regular registration rate is $185, with a reduced rate of $85 available for students, seniors, and lower-income activists. When you register, you can also become a member of the Free Press Action Fund for only an additional $10. Discounted early-bird registration rates ended March 31.

I can't afford to attend the conference. Is financial assistance available?
The deadline for scholarship applications was March 15. If you were not able to submit a scholarship application before deadline, please consider other options for raising funds for your attendance, including through sources such as community foundations or your organization, university, union, or faith group.

Note that we are accepting work exchange applications for individuals who would like to volunteer their time at the event in exchange for a registration fee waiver. You can also reduce your attendance costs by sharing rides and/or hotel rooms using the SpaceShare service"

Maybe Ms. Foley intended her extended and more detailed, unsubstantiated assertions at the St. Louis Conference to be the type of aside she expected only a select few would hear -- the choir.

I find it ironic that much of what Ms. Foley speaks about on both days, revolves around journalistic credibility and ethics with her complaint being journalists don't seem to have much any more.

Update: Jackson's Junction has it up now, here. And give him a hand 'cause it was an ornery sucker to clip. A big tip of the hat from me for all the work Trey put in. (I've update the original, above, too.)

Update II: Welcome JJ viewers. In addition to the my post with the 13 May transcript of Ms. Foley that I linked above, my original rant is here and my rant about some colleaques of Ms. Foley's that have done this is here.

Correction: Added a "not" (in bold) where one should have been. Now the phrase makes sense.

Linda Foley Related Posts:
(Reverse Chronological Order)
Looking Ahead: Military in the Cross-Hairs
"Media credibility is in the toilet, even if the Koran isn't."
Linda Foley's Context and Asides - A Comparison
Still Holding To "Context" But. Where's "Aside"?
More of Linda Foley's Talk
Journalist as Provocateurs
Linda Foley, Provocateur

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