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Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Controversial ads ‘banned’ in US airports

In media on January 23, 2010 at 3:04 am

The more you question, the more you know, — Russia Today

If youre flying within the United States rest assured — you wont be confronted with any of the uncomfortable questions raised by a recent controversial ad campaign. Major US airports have refused to display the thought-provoking, yet politically incorrect, advertisements created by foreign news source, Russia Today.

Perhaps politically incorrect is an understatement.

Its easy to see why the ads, especially those dealing with terrorism and nuclear weapons, werent allowed exposure. Too bad. Americans might have been tempted to think for themselves.


Mainstream media: So many choices, so few perspectives

In media on January 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm

My liberal friends love to rant about Fox News — either calling it Fox opinion or making a quote marks gesture with their hands while saying the word “news.” The rant is usually proceeded by a declaration of their undying love for Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann. It makes me laugh. Actually, it reminds my of my conservative friends and family back in Idaho and their disgust with the “leftwing media.”

Enter Adam Kokesh. Kokesh is an Iraqi veteran who is running for Congress in New Mexico’s 3rd District. A vocal opponent of the mainstream media, Kokesh describes the variety of TV news networks as “lots of channels, very few perspectives.”

But Kokesh is not alone. Many Americans from all across the political spectrum are beginning to desire greater diversity in their news and politics. However, it seems to be the younger, “Net Generation” that is turning to alternative news sources. After all, the Baby Boomers were raised on only three networks — making today’s explosion of cable news networks seem like a buffet of viewpoints.

But in reality, the major news networks offer seemingly different viewpoints that result in the same, blindly partisan conclusions. Perhaps Kokesh puts it better:

“We have more in common with each other than with anyone in Washington … and you don’t see that kind of perspective represented in the mainstream media because it’s been so corporatised here in the United States and been taken over by agents of the government that really just want to continue the government and the corporate line — continue the line of the financial interest in this country, the super rich, the super powerful and not really represent the American people.”

Bloggers; how little we know

In media on December 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Ah bloggers. We are an arrogant breed.

We sit in the comfort of our own living rooms getting paid to share our enlightened views on a variety of topics of which we are “experts.” Healthcare? It’s obviously broken and we, with our medical degrees and expert understanding of economics, know how to fix it. Global warming? A conspiracy by mad scientists, duh. We even go so far as to assume our own definitions of things such as torture and marriage are divine law, handed down to Moses by Jehovah God himself.

How does that saying go? “The beginning of wisdom is … .” Oh well. Perhaps we, as bloggers and people with opinions on everything, need to begin to realize how little we really know — and how little we can actually know.

We hide behind our computer screens secluded from the world abroad; our only source of information being the filtered “unbiased” news. And yet we presume to know what’s happening behind the doors of Congress and in the villages in Afghanistan.

Do we really know what happened on Sept. 11, 2001? Do we really know America’s reasons for going to war with Iraq or the purpose of the Copenhagen summit? Do we really? Probably not.

So until we have magic crystal ball to peer into and solve all the world’s problems with, let’s take the news, and ourselves, with a grain of salt.

No real difference between FOX, CNN

In media on December 8, 2009 at 2:19 am

Conservatives watch FOX News and liberals watch MSNBC and CNN, right? And when asked, both sides will tell you their network is fair, balanced and, most importantly, reality. The ceaseless whining by those on the right about the “liberal media” is exhausting. And liberals’ preoccupation with FOX opinion is equally annoying. When will both sides realize that the mass media is, well, one big mass?

Remember those mysterious weapons of mass destruction? Whether or not they existed is still debated today. However, if you were watching FOX, CNN, or MSNBC pre-Iraq war, it seemed almost certain Saddam possessed them. The media, like the war propaganda films of old, played a vital role in rallying the support of the American people. Every time you turned on your TV, the media’s obsession with the alleged weapons was right there in your face.

Currently, the media is preoccupied with the affairs of a certain golfer. A man cheating on his wife — now thats news. Notice both “liberal” and “conservative” networks are exhaustedly covering the irrelevant story.

So for those viewers out there loyally clinging to their network of choice, remember: When it really counts, when lives are on the line or another celebrity is caught driving drunk, even the mainstream media practices bipartisan politics.

Newsweek cover exposes Palin’s legs, media sexism

In media, politics, women's rights on November 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I’m not a big fan of Sarah Palin — in fact, I’m not a fan at all. Palin, like Bush before her, is a neo-con, hell bent on spreading democracy by military might while at the same time ridding the world of evildoers. The fact that Palin is a neo-con is no secret. She’s openly declared support for the Bush Doctrine and has suggested a national “Loyalty Day” to reaffirm loyalty to America. She is a big-government, neo-con nationalist, make no mistake.

However, there was one issue I did often agree with Sarah Palin on: Her unfair treatment as a female politician by the media. Let’s face it, during the 2008 presidential race the media was more concerned about Palin’s measurements than it was with her male counterparts’ voting records. Being an attractive female hindered Palin. I’m sure it was difficult for voting males to focus on her message while staring at her (insert body part).

Of course, the sexist treatment wasn’t limited to the GOP. On the flipside, Hillary Clinton was made fun of for what was considered her unattractive figure. Her hips were the butt of many jokes accompanied by her pantsuits. And who could forget the hilarious Hillary “Nut Cracker” doll. Funny perhaps, but insulting. Evidently, a strong woman is an oddity and something to be made a spectacle of.

If little girls across America learned one thing from the 2008 race, it was that they can either be the attractive bimbo or the not-so-attractive other b-word.

But unlike these women’s campaigns, the sexism hasn’t ended with the election of President Barack Obama. His wife, Michelle Obama, shocked the world by donning a sleeveless dress and exposing her arms in her first official photo as first lady — proving that sexism exceeds both ideological and racial boundaries.

The most recent example of media sexism is this week’s cover of Newsweek which shows Palin in a pair of short-ish black shorts and fitted red jacket standing next to an American flag. At first glance, it’s not clear exactly what Palin is wearing or why she is wearing it. Perhaps if Newsweek wouldn’t have cut off her running shoes, it would have been more clear Palin was dressed as a runner.

The photos were originally shot for the magazine Runner’s World. In context, the photos were tasteful and made sense. The majority of pictures showed Palin in less-attractive attire, posing with her son and stroller.

But of course, Newsweek chose the one photo where Palin donned shorter shorts, hair down, legs exposed. And when accompanied with the headline, “How do you solve a problem like Sarah? She’s bad news for the GOP – and for everybody else too” the cover’s intent becomes clear: disrespect. Newsweek’s merger of patronization and female sexuality is nothing new.

In defense of the Newsweek cover, editor Jon Meacham explained the magazine’s choice:

“We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do,” he told CNN Tuesday. “We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”

My question for Meacham is this:

“What exactly were you trying to convey and how did short shorts and legs help you convey that message?”

War Propaganda; Iranian president calls for regime change not destruction of Israel PART I

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on November 15, 2009 at 2:02 am


If America goes to war with Iran, undoubtedly the phrase “wipe Israel off the map” will be used as a motivator. But did President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually utter these words?

In Oct 2006, the newly elected Ahmadinejad gave a speech at the conference “The World Without Zionism.” The topic of interest, as evident by the conference’s title, was Zionism, not the nation of Israel.

Before making the now infamous statement, Ahmadinejad prefaced it by speaking about the Zionist regime and compared it to the regimes of Saddaim Hussein, the Shah of Iran and the Soviet Union — all which have ceased to exist. He then proceeded to say:

“The Iman said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise.”

The “Iman” that Ahmadinejad spoke of was the father of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. It’s important to note that the words are actually Khomeini’s, not Ahmadinejad’s.

Here is the quote in Farsi, courtesy of Arash Norouzi, co-founder of Mossadegh Project:

“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”

And here is the word-for-word English translation:

Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).

The one word that is recognizable to westerners is the word “rezhim-e,” or regime. It is clear that Ahmadinejad was speaking of a regime, not of a nation. This distinction is a vital one.

However, where some translators differ is over the phrase “safheh-ye ruzgar.” As Jonathan Steele with The Guardian points out, this phrase has been translated by experts to mean both “the pages of history” and “the pages of time.”

Professor Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan, says Ahmadinejad was not making a threat but encouraging pro-Palestinian activists in Iran and suggesting that, just like former regimes, the Zionist one will come to an end.

“Whatever this quotation from a decades-old speech of Khomeini may have meant, Ahmadinejad did not say that ‘Israel must be wiped off the map’ with the implication that phrase has of Nazi-style extermination of a people,” Cole said. “He said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the page of time.”


War Propaganda; Iranian president calls for regime change not destruction of Israel PART II

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on November 15, 2009 at 1:54 am

So where did the phrase “wiped of the map” originate? According to Norouzi and others, the phrase actually originated from Iran’s own Islamic Republic News Agency. The agency sent out a press release and the story was picked up by international media such as The New York Times, Al-Jazeera and the BBC. In its article, IRNA used the word “map” as the English interpretation for “safheh-ye ruzgar.” Not only was the translation inaccurate, Norouzi says the IRNA was inconstant. It also translated the phrase as “earth” in other articles.

To make things even more complicated, Ahmadinejad actually misquoted Khomeini, according to a New York Times article. Khomeini’s original words were actually “sahneh roozgar” meaning “stage of time” not Ahmadinejad’s “safheh-ye ruzgar” meaning “page of time.” 

According to The Times:

“The phrase was widely interpreted as ‘map,’ and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr. Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not ‘sahneh roozgar’ but ‘safheh roozgar,’ meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word ‘map’ again.”

While there is debate on the most accurate English interpretation of Ahmadinejad’s phrase, “safheh roozgar,” it is clear Iran’s president was speaking of regime change, not annihilating a nation. Despite this fact, 411 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H. Con. Res. 21, a bill “Calling on the United Nations Security Council to charge Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and United Nations Charter because of his calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Only two House member, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), voted against the legislation. Kucinich wanted alternative translations of Ahmadinejad’s  words included in the bill — translations describing a regime change, not “wiping Israel off the map.”

Paul believed the legislation to be a precursor to yet another war. In his speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, May 22, 2007, he said:

“Having already initiated a disastrous war against Iraq citing UN resolutions as justification, this resolution is like déjà vu. Have we forgotten 2003 already? Do we really want to go to war again for UN resolutions? That is where this resolution, and the many others we have passed over the last several years on Iran, is leading us. I hope my colleagues understand that a vote for this bill is a vote to move us closer to war with Iran.”

President Ahmadinejad has spoken much about the “regime” of Zionism. He has never spoken of “wiping Israel of the map,” “driving it into the sea,” “killing every Jewish person” or “destroying a nation.” Iran itself has denied such claims. Such phrases are merely war propaganda being spread by the mainstream media to prep Americans for yet another war.

Further reading:

‘Wiped off the Map’ — The Rumor of the Century by Arash Norouzi

‘We don’t Want Your Stinking War!’ by Professor Juan Cole

The illusion of media objectivity and the illusion of media partisanship PART I

In media on November 4, 2009 at 1:37 am

The recent “feud” between Fox News and the White House is more than a little ridiculous. Everyone, save the few Texans still driving around with “Viva Bush!” bumper stickers, realize that Fox News is really Fox Opinion.

By attacking Fox News, the White House is only furthering the myth that the mainstream media is or should be unbiased. But should the news really be fair and balanced?

Charleston City paper’s Jack Hunter and author of the blog, The Southern Avenger, points out that Fox News has never been “ ‘objective journalism,’ but neither is MSNBC, CNN, or every other corporate outlet that disseminates politically-biased disinformation.”

In his recent post, Hunter argues against The Myth of Objective Journalism and actually advocates the use of bias, opinionated journalism. He points out that:

“Before the 20th century, people got their information from newspapers that were explicitly Whig or Tory, Democrat or Republican, and which would engage in nakedly partisan public battles, leaving objectivity to the mind of the reader. Newspapers served the political and corporate interests of those who owned them and everyone knew it.”

Hunter goes on to declare that “There can be no true objective journalism because there are no truly objective human beings.”

Hunter is correct that news can never be truly bias free as it’s told by bias reporters and editors. Deciding what stories run, what their headlines are, and what content is included in them all reflect the personal opinions of the editors and reporters. But does that mean the media shouldn’t at least try to be fair and balanced? I’m not so sure.

Hunter points to the liberal Noam Chomsky who “has argued that the illusion of media objectivity has led to major news outlets becoming the instruments of government and corporate interests rather than society’s watchdogs, investigative journalism’s alleged purpose.”

In Hunter and Chomsky’s opinion, this illusion has served to further the agendas of the powerful — whether it be those in Washington D.C. or in the boardroom. However, the real question is whether or not the illusion is intentional.

The illusion of media objectivity and the illusion of media partisanship PART II

In media on November 4, 2009 at 12:38 am

In my humble opinion, the push for an “unbiased” media is intentional. While smaller, non-mainstream media and local media strive to provide fair coverage and unbiased reporting, the media conglomerates that own CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others barley try, if at all, to conceal their bias’. Whether it’s Bill O’Reilly labeling liberals as “pinheads” and conservatives as “patriots” or  MSNBC’s recent promo “Watch MSNBC, and experience the power of change,” the mainstream media’s claim of objective reporting is laughable.

But does the average American really believe his network of choice to be “fair and balanced?” The fact that Americans have a preference as to what news source they listen to is proof bias exist. Conservatives trust Fox because Fox tells them what they already believe and what they want to believe. Same goes for the liberals. 

For this reason, I disagree with Hunter’s conclusion. Hunter decides that both left and right news sources should embrace their role as partisan watchdogs and shamelessly attack the other side. He concludes that:

“As the Democrats proceed with arguably the most ambitious big government agenda in history, conservatives should hope for a more explicitly partisan Fox News — completely on the outs with the president — that might monitor that ‘center of power’ that is Obama’s Washington, D.C. MSNBC and CNN certainly aren’t going to do it. Fox should do to Obama what MSNBC and CNN should have done to Bush — attempt to cripple the president’s agenda by actually reporting on it.

Forget objectivity; how about some actual productivity, in which partisan media outlets might finally do a competent job of keeping an eye on the other party?

And far from being offended by the recent White House snub, Fox News should do America a favor by embracing its explicitly partisan role as an enemy of Obama’s state.”

Hunter’s naivety lies in the fact that he believes these mainstream news sources to be watchdogs. Fox News is not “Obama’s enemy of the State.” True, Fox News’ reporters are constantly attacking the President and his “liberal” policies, but their rhetoric does little more than inflame the emotions of knee-jerk conservatives. Words like communism, socialism, and liberalism and criticism aimed at Nancy Pelosi and leading Democrats, do little to actually inform the public.

Rather, Fox News, like its competitors, meets a demand. And the way in which it meets the demand does not lead to meaningful, intellectual discovery by its viewers.

The same was true for Keith Olbermann and the rest of the “liberal” media during the Bush years. While Olbermann was justified in many of his railings against the Bush administration, his reporting did little to serve the intellect of the American people. More importantly, Olbermann helped to further draw the imaginary lines between left and right and perpetuate MSNBC’s  facade as a partisan media watchdog.

If Americans truly desire unbiased reporting, good luck. Such a source does not exist. But if Americans want to discover the “real” news — that which they are not being told, they need to turn off their TV’s and search for small, independent news sources. The internet has opened the door to a plethora of such sources. Like these independent news sources, local media would be doing itself and the public a favor if it embraced its role as a true, admittedly bias, watchdog.

Graphic exhibit shows ‘cost of war’

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on October 27, 2009 at 11:51 pm

When I first beginning flipping through the digital images, I was fine. The pictures mostly showed explosions and damaged cars and buildings. But as I got deeper into the exhibit, the photos got more and more gruesome. By the end, I was squinting my eyes and forcing myself to finish.

The photographers who took the pictures are both Israeli and Palestinian. They captured images, not of some foreign war zone, but of the war zone that is their backyards.

I think it’s necessary that we, as Americans, often remind ourselves of the costs of war.

The other day while reading an online news story about the Sunday car bombings in Iraq, I was struck by the lack of “real” photos — or those that accurately displayed the damages to human life.

American journalism censors images deemed too graphic for the pubic for various reasons. The reason cited more often than not, is a respect for the victims and their families.

I’ve usually agreed with this stance; feeling that some things are just too private to share with the world. Callous journalism concerned only with getting the story is not something I hope to achieve as a student of journalism.

But lately I’ve felt more and more that Americans, being so safely removed from the violence, have an immature view of war. And while many of us have friends and family serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have not personally experienced the gruesome scenes as the soldiers have.

My point is not to belittle Americans or suggest they haven’t paid for the cost of these wars. Many have. But when all we hear in the news is statistics of dead soldiers and civilians and stories of car bombs and insurgent fighting, we can’t possibly grasp the death and destruction actually taking place. Our imaginations fail us.

Beware of the Cost of War is an exhibit displaying the works of both Palestinian and Israeli photojournalist on the front lines of their conflict. It went on display Friday in various London studios and will be on display until Thursday. However, for those limited by travel, the exhibit can be seen online here.

The online exhibit initially displays the images with no captions. Hopefully this way, viewers will see the images without taking a “side” or making distinctions in nationality and religion.