This week I return to “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.”
DOWNED FIGHTER JET IN LIBYA:
This story focuses on a downed United States fighter jet in Libya and the local reaction. Anchor Brian Williams begins this section dryly by talking about how none of the bombing runs have killed Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi is quoted as saying that he will be ultimately victorious. Williams also makes clear that the no-fly zone and bombing raids are currently being led by the United States. Williams then sends the report off to Jim Miklaszewksi, NBC’s Pentagon correspondent.
Miklaszewski gives a brief description of the mechanical failure that caused the crash. He speaks of how both pilots ejected, and how one pilot was found near the wreckage shortly after the incident. The other pilot, however, was taken in by the “rebels” and welcomed kindly. Miklaszewski makes note that the jet did drop a few bombs and fire bullets on its way downward, injuring some civilians. He also mentions how the civilians who were injured were not mad at the Americans. The report then shifts focus to the large statecraft issues. Miklaszewski talks about a meeting between Russian officials and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The Russians “lectured Gates” on the apparent killing of civilians by Americans. Gates retorts that Gaddafi is the one killing civilians. The report ends with a note about wanting to meet a deadline for ending United States bombing action. At that point America would provide surveillance and support. No date was given.
The objectivity here is murky, and the wording overall is vague. Williams’ share of the piece is straight and to the point, as an anchor’s portion should be. Miklaszewski’s part is marred by his own feelings though. It is unnecessary for him to mention that the person who is injured by a stray bullet is not angry at the American pilot. He is clearly trying to rile up feelings of dissent similar to those caused by the bombings of Baghdad in the current war in Iraq. This is unprofessional and slanted. Also, the language is unclear. As I have previously mentioned, the media needs to clarify who are the “rebels/opposition.” Also, seeing as the uprising is civilian based, is it even possible to say there are “civilian casualties”? It makes more sense to just say “rebel casualties” or even “friendly fire”! NBC fails at clarifying who was hurt in these exchanges. Instead, the network only casts a negative light on the American troops by saying they have caused civilian casualties.
JAPAN RADIATION AND SHELTERS:
This feature discusses the current radiation threat to Japan and the services being provided to the citizens. Williams begins by almost enthusiastically saying that radiation detectors within the United States have picked up trace elements of radiation from Japan’s broken reactors. He mentions that there is no threat at the moment in the United States. Williams then shows some statistics about the effects of radiation in Japan. Science correspondent Robert Bazell then takes over on location in Japan. He is broadcast from the Saitama Super Arena. This former sporting venue has been converted into a refugee and distribution center for victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation. He reports that around 2,300 people are currently residing in the arena. Local organizations and individuals are bringing donations to help the people with everyday necessities. Bazell interviews a woman whose husband works at the Fukushima nuclear plant. She is worried for, yet proud of him. The report is then sent back to Williams. He ends the story by saying that the FDA has stopped all shipments of produce and food from the affected region of Japan.
This story highlights the fact that the international community is not doing enough for Japan. In Bazell’s report, there is not one mention of international aid. The supplies given to the refugees come from their countrymen. When comparing this disaster to the earthquake in Haiti last year, almost every story mentioned the face that international entities were helping provide from the affected peoples. Japan is being left to help itself because it can help itself. This is wrong. If the international community will help people who have no way to recover, then it must send aid to a country that can get itself back on its feet and begin being a productive, necessary power.
The media seems to be too focused on the nuclear issue. Yes, this is a problem, and people like to hear it because they do not understand it. However, even the Japanese government has been criticized for paying too much attention to the Fukushima reactors than to the thousands of people impacted by the tsunami. For Williams to talk about how America is showing trace elements of radiation is ridiculous. Information like that is not helpful and only causes unrest. One redeeming factor of this report is the interviews with the people in the refugee center. For a woman to be proud of her husband to risk his life is laudable in itself. This sentiment is shared by the general Japanese public, too. Those citizens are truly amazing, and it was nice to see NBC highlighting them.