Engineer-Speak for “Dud”

This post, “Radio’s digital dilemma: broadcasting in the 21st century,” on the University of Illinois website, pretty much says it all — Big Money (and NPR) muscled compliant FCC into a system designed to make a few people rich and thwart competition, ends up being trash:

The interaction of policy and technological development in the era of “convergence” is messy and fraught with contradictions. The best expression of this condition is found in the story behind the development and proliferation of digital audio broadcasting (DAB). Radio is the last of the traditional mass media to navigate the convergence phenomenon; convergence itself has an inherently disruptive effect on traditional media forms. However, in the case of radio, this disruption is mostly self-induced through the cultivation of communications policies which thwart innovation. A dramaturgical analysis of digital radio’s technological and policy development reveals that the industry’s preferred mode of navigating the convergence phenomenon is not designed to provide the medium with a realistically useful path into a 21st century convergent media environment. Instead, the diffusion of “HD Radio” is a blocking mechanism proffered to impede new competition in the terrestrial radio space. HD Radio has several critical shortfalls: it causes interference and degradation to existing analog radio signals; does not have the capability to actually advance the utility of radio beyond extant quality/performance metrics; and is a wholly proprietary technology from transmission to reception. Despite substantive evidence in the record clearly warning of HD Radio’s fundamental detriments, the dominant actors in the policy dialogue were able to quell these concerns by dint of their economic might and through intensive backstage discourse directly with the Federal Communications Commission. Since its official proliferation in 2002, HD Radio’s growth has stagnated; some early-adopter stations are actually abandoning the protocol and receiver penetration is abysmal. As a result, the future of HD Radio is quite uncertain. Domestically, the entire process of HD Radio’s regulatory approval can be seen as a capstone in the history of communications regulation which favors neoliberal ideology over empirical engineering data and a vocal public interest. However, the apparent failure of digital radio is not confined to the United States: the dilemma of DAB’s adoptive weakness is a global and technologically agnostic phenomenon. Perhaps this says something about the inherent necessity of digitizing radio, and invites significant confusion over the future identity of “radio” as we know it today. If DAB were to fail, the outcome would invite entirely new ways of thinking about the future of broadcasting in a convergent media environment.

Glenn Greenwald on Real Reporting

What NPR means by “reporting”

A video art work displays Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a gallery in Tel Aviv, Israel  (Credit: AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

It is well worth listening to a 4-minute NPR story from this morning (embedded in linked story) on the grave and growing menace of “state-sponsored Terrorism” from Iran. NPR national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston does what she (and NPR reporters generally) typically do: gathers a couple of current and former government officials (with an agreeable establishment think-tank expert thrown in the mix), uncritically airs what they say, and then repeats it herself. This is what establishment-serving journalists in Washington mean when they boast that they, but not their critics, engage in so-called “real reporting”; it means: calling up Serious People in Washington and uncritically repeating what they say (see here and here for the episode when Temple-Raston voiced that basic claim to me, as she boasted of special knowledge she possessed about Anwar Awlaki’s guilt obtained when unnamed government officials whispered assertions to her in private which she then uncritically repeated: that’s real reporting).

This morning, Temple-Raston began her report by noting — without a molecule of skepticism or challenge — that Iran is accused (by the U.S. government, of course) of trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil (a plot traced to “the top ranks of the Iranian government”); there was no mention of the fact that this alleged plot was so ludicrous that it triggered intense mockery in most circles. She then informed us that Iran is also likely responsible for three recent, separate attacks on Israeli officials. These incidents, she and her extremely homogeneous group of experts from official Washington explained, are “red flags” about Iran’s intent to commit Terrorism — red flags consistent, she says, with Iran’s history of state-sponsored Terrorism involving assassinations of opposition leaders in Europe during the 1980s and the 1996 truck bombing of an American military dormitory in Saudi Arabia (note how attacks on purely military targets are “Terrorism” when Iran does it, as are the assassinations of its own citizens on foreign soil who are working for the overthrow of its government; but if you hold your breath waiting for NPR to label as Terrorism the U.S. assassination of its own citizens on foreign soil, or American and Israeli attacks on military targets, you are likely to expire quite quickly). All of this, Temple-Raston announces, shows that Iran is “back on the offensive.”

Iran is on “the offensive.” There is no mention in this NPR story — literally none whatsoever — of the string of serious attacks on Iran, from multiple explosions on their soil to the training and arming of a designated Terror group devoted to its government’s overthrow to the bombardment of its nuclear facilities with sophisticated cyber attacks to the multiple murders of its civilian nuclear scientists. These attacks on Iran — widely reported to be the work of some combination of the U.S. and Israel — literally do not exist in the world that NPR presented. Iran is simply sponsoring and launching “Terror attacks” out of the blue against the U.S. and Israel: presumably because they’re Evil Terrorists. Meanwhile, we learn from Temple-Raston that “what worked so well dismantling Al Qaeda” — like drone attacks [it ‘worked so well’ doing things like this]  – won’t work on this kind of Terrorism.” Fortunately, though, the U.S. has vast powers of eavesdropping and banking surveillance that it can and must use against this “old adversary”: Iran. Imagine Bill Kristol delivering this “report” on Iran and try to identify how it would have been any different.

What’s most amazing about this isn’t just that people like Temple-Raston think that uncritically airing, amplifying and repeating the government-subservient views of a few homogeneous former U.S. officials constitutes “real reporting,” though that is quite remarkable. What’s most amazing is that NPR has an obsession with what it considers “neutral” reporting, and I guarantee you that Temple-Raston’s response to these criticisms would be to insist that she is neither a partisan nor an opinionist, but rather a “straight reporter” who simply presents facts without bias. She would undoubtedly believe that this report to which she just subjected the world — one that is about as one-sided, biased and opinionated as can be: Iran is offensively launching Terrorism at the world and the U.S. must stop it – is a pure example of objective reporting. That’s because “objective reporting” to such people means: endorsing, embracing and bolstering the prevailing views of the U.S. government and official Washington in order to inculcate the citizenry to believe them. Doing that can be called many things: “objective” and “real reporting” are most definitely not among them.

There’s one prime reason why Americans are so uninformed about what their government does in their name around the world (Why do they hate us?). It’s because “news stories” from “even liberal media outlets” like NPR systematically obscure those facts, disseminating pure propaganda from America’s National Security State masquerading as high-minded, Serious news.

 

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