ATTN JMS: You really depress me

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Sat Feb 22 06:09:38 EST 1997

Subject: ATTN JMS: You really depress me
 No. | DATE        |  FROM
s  1: Feb 21, 1997: jimroyal at (Jim Royal)
*  2: Feb 21, 1997: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)


From: jimroyal at (Jim Royal)
Lines: 53

[Minimal spoilers for "The Illusion of Truth"]
Joe, you really depress me.

After watching "The Illusion of Truth," I sat in a funk for a 
while, thinking about the role of journalists in shaping 
public life, and I can't say that I had any good thoughts. 
I have worked as a journalist, and I saw the reporter in 
this episode as a shocking reflection of reality.

The reporter in the episode said: "If you don't cooperate 
with us, we'll have to do the story anyway, and then there 
will be no one to represent your side."

I've used that line myself.  I cringed when I heard it, aware 
of the lies that lay behind it.

I know full well the number of unintentional distortions that 
creep into honest reporting, and how even the slightest 
preconception can skew a news story completely.  "Illusion 
of Truth" illustrated for me the thinness of the line between 
what real reporters do and what your fictitious reporter did.

Just recently I saw two TV documentaries about the Gulf 
War.  One, on PBS, took a hard and disturbing look at the 
extent of the casualties caused by US bombing.  The other 
claimed straight-faced that the Gulf War was a "clean" war, 
with minimal casualties -- essentially parroting the military 
propaganda.  There was no way to tell which one was more 

Journalists posess a conceit that they really don't shape 
public opinion, that real events are far more powerful than 
they are.  "The Illusion of Truth" reminded me that the news 
is often a consensual hallucination that corresponds to 
reality only by accident.

I don't work as a journalist anymore, because the job market 
here in Canada is lousy.  I'm a technical writer, now.  
Sometimes I miss the work.  Sometimes I don't.

Jim Royal                   jimroyal at      I was there at the Dawn
Technical Communicator       jimr at       of the 3rd Age of Mankind


From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Lines: 19

If it's a little close to have to remember I came out of
journalism, that was where I cut my teeth as a writer, working for
newspapers and magazines.  You see a lot of the tricks, some good, some
not so good, used for purposes that are sometimes good or not so good,
distortions on the left and distortions on the right. So it wasn't hard to
just tweak it a bit.

Thing to remember, though, is that this isn't ISN as we've known it in the
past, at least not to this extreme.  If anything, this ep should point to
the difference between journalism, albeit biased, and propaganda, which is
all ISN is now, and how only an informed viewership can prevent the one
from sliding into the other.


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