Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Indirect Evidence

Stumbled across this story from Lycos that "Paul Johnson" was the most requested search term on their search engine last week. "Nick Berg" was at Number 7, still on the list. Completely missing from the Top 50 was the term "Abu Ghraib." Does that tell you something? Like maybe that people want to see the whole, unedited and unsanitised, story?

Well, the media doesn't agree. I noticed right after the story broke that no media source I heard or went to named the Arabic / Al-Qaida website that was breaking the story. It was always "an Arabic website." It took some digging around to find it. (Sorry, I don't have the link any more.)

Then, on the evening news, it was more "sparing the details." Dan Rather flatly announced that CBS wouldn't show the pictures. The other three main news shows only showed brief clips from his initial capture video, or the terrorists' final statement. No horror for you!

And then it was on to Abu Ghraib. Really. I'm not making that up.

A Lycos search back to May 1 shows that when the Abu Ghraib story broke, it had a similar effect, but the search terms were lumped together, so we don't know the real effect.

The lesson? When the gatekeepers of the national media try to "protect" us from the truth, the American people leap to the Web to learn for themselves. I think that also explains a lot of the popularity of the blogging world as well. Someone's doing it wrong and someone's doing it right.

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