'The Michigan Daily Monday, December 3, 1990
'All the news that fits we print'
by R6nfn G. Lynch
The one sacred cow left in the mass
media is critical coverage of the me-
dia. It's not entirely unreasonable -
*ournalists are bashed for being
wrong and for being right. It's no
wonder we aren't rushing to criticize
ourselves, so don't hold your breath
for The New York Times Supple-
ment on Media Criticism.
But a new book, Unreliable
Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias
in News Media, provides a layper-
son's guide to interpreting the news.
i's not a political book - it is of
se to anyone who wonders why the
news doesn't gel with their day-to-
day understanding of the world.
Unreliable Sources details the
practices that skew the news, from
the increasingly concentrated owner-
ship of the mass media to the over-
reliance on official sources. It takes
the reader into the sometimes shad-
owy world of corporate and political
ontrol of the fourth estate.
The authors, Martin A. Lee and
Norman Solomon, charge that the
corporate ownership and sponsorship
of the news raises questions about
the "freedom" or "independence" of
the media. The mandate of journal-
ists to afflict the comfortable and
comfort the afflicted becomes mean-
ingless when journalists are em-
ployed by the "comfortable."
Journalists, the authors claim,
begin to censor themselves in order
not to bite the hand that feeds them:
"Self-serving myths about the Free
Press conjure up images of a jour-
nalistic Superman, ready to do battle
for truth, justice and the American
way. But the reality is closer to
Clark Kent, the mild-mannered re-
porter who dutifully does what the
The book provides a litany of ex-
amples of news bias, from the sys-
tematic exclusion of non-white male
commentators on current affairs
shows to the cover-ups of nuclear
scandals and human rights viola-
tions. Unreliable Sources makes for
Academic media criticism -
from Ben Bagdikian's The Media
Monopoly to Noah Chomsky and
Edward Herman's Manufacturing
Consent -- is unrelentingly
gloomy. Unreliable Sources takes a
different tack. While exposing the
problems, the authors encourage
people to become their own press
"If you're getting a narrow spec-
trum of views, there's less diversity,
less pluralism, it's not a good situa-
tion. So if you want to add to the
media diet that's not on television,
we say, 'then go to the publications
who don't have their editors and
columnists on television,"' co-au-
thor Lee said in a recent interview.
Lee, who graduated from the
University in 1975, is the publisher
of Extra!, the magazine of the FAIR
(Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)
media watch group, and much of the
material in the book is culled from
his research with that organization.
Unreliable Sources is well
worth a read for those who are frus-
trated by what passes for news, and
want to get at the reality behind Dan
Rather's smile. "Polls show that
people are interested in the news but
confused by it," Lee said. "We try to
encourage people to snap out of the
mode that they are simply passive
consumers of the news."
MARTIN A. LEE will sign copies of
Unreliable Sources: A Guide to De-
tecting Bias in News Media today
from 2 to 4 p.m. at Shaman Drum
bookstore, 313 S. State St.
The doctor of
The cause of survival for Black
people is trapped in a crossroads.
The young are angry, misdirected and
desperate for action. The elders are
comparatively more tolerant and
closer to transcendence of the hellish
state of existence called America.
When Gil Scott-Heron took the
stage for his second set at the Ark
Saturday night, he was not drinking
uncontrollably and did not seem to
be swayed by any particular
influence, other than the continued
games without frontiers that our
government loves to play.
"So now they've got us between
Iraq and a hard place," Scott-Heron
taunted, entering his rap-sodic state
of mind, delivering his a capella ren-
dering of "Space Shuttle:" "Now
there's a hole in the ozone layer,
we've put fear back into the atmo-
sphere." Sitting at his piano and
clearly at ease, the man once referred
to as "minister of information" then
proceeded to drop the science of gen-
erations. "You don't give what you
can afford, you give what other
people need... They don't need the
oil. We don't need the problems."
Scott-Heron's band, the Amnesia
Express, then took the stage midway
through "We Almost Lost Detroit,"
a song written about the Fermi ft
nuclear power plant that almost
melted down in the late '60s, just
outside of the city. The Amnesia
Express was in top form, rendering
"Winter In America" and "Better
Days" with lengthy performances,
spontaneity and a tight overall band
feel. Actually, the revolution in mu-
sic will always be connected to
Scott-Heron, rather than his being
connected to it. Leave "No Knock"
and "Brother" to the likes of Public
Enemy. As long as Gil Scott-Heron
continues to provide this cool jazz to
soothe the rage of his people, there
will be hope for better days.
- Forrest Green III
critics, and the book provides appen-
dices of suggested material to
"balance" the news diet.
Gumbo Millennium is the latest
release for New York's 24-7 Spyz. It
is a true mixture of music, dipping
from rock, R&B, metal, jazz, pop
and even ska. But the most surpris-
ing thing about Gumbo, and the
most important thing to stress is
that 24-7 Spyz does all of these
About half of the tunes on this
14-song release have a definite
rock/metal slant. "John Connelly's
Theory" and "New Hero Worship"
are two of the songs in which the
guitar, vocals, bass and drums com-
bine to firmly establish 24-7 Spyz
as rock musicians. "Racism" is so
fast, aggressive and guitar-driven that
it puts the music of even Metallica
and Suicidal Tendencies to shame,
while "Heaven and Hell" is a
whirling ballad that mixes dreamy
guitars and vocals with a speed-metal
riff at the end to form one of the best
songs on the album.
But then comes "Valdez 27 Mil-
lion" and "Don't Break My Heart!,"
which are two tunes with a bassline
funky enough for George Clinton.
These songs could hold their own on
any R&B station, and anyone who
doesn't want to get up to dance to
these must either be deaf or in an-
other room. And when the ska tune
"Culo Posse" hops around you can't
help but dance, look at your stereo
and wonder "What the hell can't
these guys do?"
Another thing that is surprising
is how well Jimi Hazel can play the
guitar. He creates some riffs and
chords that would make even Eddie
Van Halen turn his head. And his
speed and accuracy in soloing are
nothing short of impressive.
The lyrics of Gumbo are also a
high point. Every member of the
band dips their hand into the song-
writing cookie jar and the results are
excellent. Thank goodness, there are
only two prerequisite songs about
that thing they call love. Most of
the remaining songs concentrate on
politics and changing the world -
something each band member seems
to have a knack for writing about.
"Don't Push Me" is an excellent
example of this. P. Fluid sings
about something that can't be
stressed enough - we shouldn't di-
vide ourselves by color, but rather
work together to accomplish some-
thing positive. "Forget about the
black and white thing/And reflect on
the trouble this world is in." Unfor-
tunately, this song's beat is too
repetitive, which makes an otherwise
great song simply good.
The consistency is the only real
fault with Gumbo. Although the vo-
cals and guitar playing are excellent
throughout the album, the rhythm
section becomes flat and unusually
monotonous at times, which makes
a few of the songs boring.
Even if it's not as consistent as it
could be, Gumbo Millennium is an
eclectic mix of music that is strong
enough to keep most people's heads
bobbing and feet tapping, although
probably not for a thousand years.
-Richard S. Davis
Pet Shop Boys
Apart from George Michael's
"Freedom 90," this is the finest gay
record of the year. Though still dead-
pan, Behavior finds the Pet Shop
Boys in less ironic form; their cyni-
cism has been somewhat tempered
by a sense of loss. Behavior pays
homage to the romantic idealism of
disco and early '70s soul. It's a
paean to a time before the cloud of
AIDS hung over us, the decade in
which gay culture blossomed. This
collection of songs mourns the pass-
ing of an age. There's a wry twist to
the tale of infidelity in the Munich
Machine-Moroder thrust of "So
Hard," but for the most part, morbid
romance is the keynote in this col-
lection. Fake and real strings soup
up the lush house throb of the
Shoppies' electronics and Johnny
Marr shows up to sprinkle some
spare guitar licks over a few tunes.
The slinky wah-wah funk of
"Being Boring" recalls the Philadel-
phia soul of Gamble and Huff; the
lyrics obliquely dwell on the AIDS
age. "To Face the Truth" yearns to
be one of those syrupy soul ballads
from the All-Platinum label. Whit-
ney should cover it. The album's
piece de la resistance, "My October
Symphony," recounts the disillusion
of a Soviet composer with the 1917
Revolution over an arrangement
straight from the Love Unlimited
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe
also amplify awkward relationships
on mellower, ambient songs like
"Jealousy" and "Only the Wind" that
echo nothing but the melodramatic
opulence of prime time ABBA h la
"The Winner takes It All" or "The
Name of the Game." Gay sensibility
to the fore, Behavior's closing track
"Jealousy" ends appropriately with a
gloriously camp flourish of harps
and strings. Behavior is a long
overdue, melancholic tribute to the
See RECORDS, Page 7
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