[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#4130: Performance of journalists: Ives responds to Chamberlain (fwd)

From: K. M. Ives <kives@gateway.net>

Greg tries to prove that the mainstream news agencies have no
bias, print all the news that's fit to print (in their
"restricted space"), and that the critiques of mainstream Haitian
coverage offered on this list "a lot of the time simply comes
down to a complaint that a report is not 100% favourable to their
opinions or what they're interested in and that it even simply
mentions someone or something they don't agree with or are not
interested in." Kind of insulting.

Fact is, there is an entire _movement_ of alternative journalism
which seeks to correct and fill in the distortions, omissions,
and lies of the mainstream media, which is of course very biased
in the way it presents not only Haiti, but the world in general.
This movement is growing more important as the planet's main
media outlets are being concentrated in the hands of an
increasingly small circle of giant multinationals (mostly defense
contractors like GE and Westinghouse).

What would happen, I wonder, if Norton or Bauduy decided to do a
story on, say, the hypocrisy of the U.S. government outlawing any
foreign financing of its own elections and candidates yet
brazenly meddling in Haiti's elections? What about an exposé on
some dirty goings-on in the U.S. Embassy, or the contacts (if
there have been any) between Nadal and the CIA? How about an
analysis of  how much profit is made off of Haitian sweatshop

We all know: those stories would never run. That's not what their
editors want. And that's why a lot of journalists (I know quite a
few) bail out of the mainstream in frustration. Those who stay
agree with their editors, become cynical, or, to paraphrase Ben
Bagdikian, veteran mainstream journalist and dean of the Graduate
School of Journalism at Berkeley, become oblivious to the
compromises with authority they constantly make.

The big stories on Haiti -- the links between the CIA and FRAPH,
the 160,000 stolen documents, the secret deal to spring Toto
Constant, USAID's $800,000 to hype privatization, etc. -- have
all come from the alternative press.

Haiti Progrès is a part of that alternative press movement and
makes a contribution to balancing the story coming from the
mainstream, and occasionally even breaking a story. Greg's
attempt to equate Haiti Progrès with Nadal and Haiti Observateur,
which shamelessly prints rumor, pure invention, and Macoute
"insertion requise", is, of course,  ridiculous. It looks more
like one of those ?blanket accusations,? which he is so fond of

Let?s also refrain from caricaturing people?s legitimate
criticisms, bludgeoning them with accusations that they believe
in some "permanent media plot.? It's just that US-style
mythically "objective? journalism, in the words of professor
Robert McChesney, is a ?lifeless enterprise,? which worships
?official sources (government, big business) as appropriate
generators of legitimate news? and "effectively internalizes
corporate capitalism as the natural order for a democracy." As
McChesney notes, ?some studies have suggested that the more a
person consumes commercial news, the less capable that person is
of understanding politics or public affairs.?

So, let?s try to find out a little more about this aspect of the
corporate media before lecturing people about how they should be
"finding out a bit about the simple mechanics (and constraints)
of the news business."

Kim Ives