Thursday, February 28, 2008

Anonymity, NIU murders, and the mass media, part 8

Recently, I came across the following website. I suggest you check it out if you are a policy holder of Farmers Insurance Group or thinking about having them insure you in any capacity:

The above link is for a company—Vision Forum—that provides unique products for the family. I am an affiliate for the company and receive a small commission whenever someone uses this link and then makes an unreturned purchase while using the link. Check it out. I think you might like the products offered. I do. See my more complete explanation on my post of February 1, 2008 entitled “Affiliate program with Vision Forum.”

Webmasters Earn Money Here!

Based upon past historical data: 3,287+ UNBORN BABY MURDERS have occurred in the last 24 hours in the United States. See my post “BABY HOLOCAUST” posted January 22, 2008.

Recently, I’ve been involved in a problem one of my clients has with Farmers Insurance Group. My previous posts in relation to this problem were:

September 10, 2007 post: “Beware of Farmers Insurance Group”
September 11, 2007 post: “Farmers Insurance Group’s response”
September 18, 2007 post: “Farmers Insurance Company received the requested list”
September 19, 2007 post: “Farmers Insurance Company’s response to the list”
October 16, 2007 post: “Farmers Insurance Group and my request for information”
November 27, 2007 post: “Farmers Insurance Group does not respond to my request”
January 11, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group latest stall”
January 12, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group is sent a response”
January 14, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group pays some money”
January 19, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group continues to be obstinate”
January 26, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group receives another request”
February 11, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group shows how low they will go?”
February 12, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group: If I were going to respond to the final letter”
February 13, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group and associated companies”
February 14, 2008 post: “Farmers Insurance Group and how others rate the company”

I will not be continuing my Creationism posts today. I do plan to return to them soon.

Then, I plan to answer the response about Iraq. I am sorry for the change in plans. Plans, in reality, often are altered for one reason or another. “The best laid plans … often go astray.” Thank you for your understanding and patience.

How many unborn toddlers were murdered today because of the humanistic, paganish, barbaric decisions of the United States Supreme Court?

Stop the
Murder of

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4: 17 (NIV)

My recent posts have involved four news stories—two dealing with the NIU murders, one on John McCain, and one about a death at the U.N. What did these three distinct articles have in common? All reported “information” based upon the ubiquitous anonymous source.

Tonight, a brief look specifically at the NIU (Northern Illinois University) murder story in relation to the anonymous information given in the story. The original two news articles were published in the Peoria Journal Star on February 17, and February 18, 2008.

I have said before that reporters know that readers have developed a set of habits when reading a news story. Some stop reading with the headline. Others will read the material on the first page of a story that is front page news and not read the remainder of the story located on a later page. The NIU story was, of course, front page news. The remainder of the story was on page A12. Still others may turn to the inside page but not read the complete story.

Why is this important in relation to the NIU story? The last paragraph on the front page concluded the front page portion of the story with the following: “Many saw him as happy and stable, but he had developed a recent interest in guns and was involved in a troubled—possibly abusive—on-again, off-again relationship.” (Peoria Journal Star, February 17, 2008, page A1)

Consequently, the reader, if he stopped reading with the front page portion of the story, is left with these thoughts as provided by the story: 1) the murderer “had developed a recent interest in guns.” It seems that the reporters may be implying that this recent interest in guns may be one of the reasons that the murders occurred. No interest in guns = no murders. More importantly though is the concluding thought on the front page: 2) (The murderer) “was involved in a troubled—possibly abusive—on-again, off-again relationship.”

Where did the reporters seem to get the information for this alleged troubling, on and off relationship that could possibly be abusive? It seems from an anonymous source! Thus, an early paragraph on page A12 declares “One person who knew the couple, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said the couple’s relationship was on-again, off-again and ‘really rocky.’ Kazmierczak was controlling, she said.

‘He was abusive, had a temper,’ she said. ‘He didn’t actually hit her, he would push her around.’”

We have the same problems as always with an anonymous source. We have only the reporters’ word that the anonymous source knew what she was talking about and was, in fact, correct in her assessment of the situation. We don’t know if the anonymous source did actually know the situation. We don’t know how knowledgeable she was because we don’t know the closeness of the relationship. We know that the reporters could have simply made up this information. We have no way of questioning the anonymous source about the information.

Yet, it seems that the reporters used this anonymous source for their concluding comment on page A1 that the gunman “was involved in a troubled—possibly abusive—on-again, off-again relationship.” This is an example of terrible reporting and terrible editing by the local paper which printed the story. The last thing that some readers will read about the story seems to be based upon an anonymous source where the readers who stopped reading on the front page don’t even know that the information is based upon an anonymous source. It’s a double portion of the power of the anonymous source possibly misleading the public.

However, that is not all in relation to this particular news event. The next day, another story is printed and information in that story seems to contradict the information given by the anonymous source.

The following is a quote attributed to the murderer’s girlfriend: “‘The person I knew was not the one who went into Cole Hall and did that,’ Baty told CNN. ‘He was anything but a monster. He was probably the … nicest, (most) caring person ever.’” (Peoria Journal Star, February 18, 2008, page A1) Claiming that the murderer was “probably the …nicest, (most) caring person ever” seems to refute that she was involved in a “really rocky” relationship with the murderer, that he was “abusive,” or that the murderer “was involved in a troubled—possibly abusive—on-again, off-again relationship.”

On page A9 of the February 18, 2008 story in the Peoria Journal Star the reader is provided with the following additional information that again seems to refute the anonymous information given the previous day. “An NIU professor who befriended Kazmierczak and Baty during their years on campus told The Associated Press earlier Sunday that Baty was upset by media reports of their relationship as rocky and abusive.

Jim Thomas, an emeritus professor of sociology and criminology at NIU, said Baty feels she and Kazmierczak were a typical young couple.

‘They were two people in love with all the pains, joys, squabbles, ups/downs of any other relationship,’ Thomas said.”

In this instance, rebuttal information refuting the anonymous source is given. However, it is given in the next day’s story. How many people having read the first day’s anonymous source information have already formed an unchanging opinion of the situation? Does everyone who read the previous day’s article also read the later rebuttal? Does everyone who read the previous day’s article eventually accept that the rebuttal information is indeed true or do they have doubts because of the already processed original information? Has the anonymous information that was not collaborated already done damage that is irreversible?

Why does the mass media persist in using anonymous information?


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