Genetically engineered Xa21 rice was big news in the New York Times. In a 1995 article headlined “Genetic Engineering Creates Rice Resistant to Destructive Blight” (12/15/95), journalist Sandra Blakeslee wrote it was “the first time that a disease-resistance gene has been put into rice.” Blakeslee quoted Gary Toenniessen, deputy director of agricultural sciences at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, saying it heralded “a new era in plant genetics and resistance breeding.” But 18 years after that article was written, the failure of these predictions is clear: No commercial GMO rice of any kind exists, nor has Xa21 or any […]
Washington Post’s prestige based on proximity to power
If the United States derived its might primarily from its economic power, the Washington Post would enjoy the same degree of international influence as, say, the Xinhua newspaper of Beijing. The two countries have roughly comparable outputs, with China’s GDP being about 80 percent the size of the US economy when adjusted for purchasing power, according to the IMF. But a large part of what makes the United States a unique superpower is its role as the world’s military hegemon, reflected in part by its roughly 1,000 overseas bases. (China has none.) It is this added power emanating from the […]
Glowing US coverage of Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto has some folks buzzing about the "Mexican Moment." But is privatizing the oil industry really the reform it's made out to be? We'll talk it over with independent journalist Shannon Young.
Also on the show: The Associated Press won a Pulitzer for reporting that the New York Police Department was spying on Muslims, in mosques, bookstores, restaurants and elsewhere, simply because they're Muslim. Now a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit over that spying, saying any harm wasn't caused by the NYPD but by AP! We'll talk to Ashley Gorski of the ACLU about what the ruling means for civil liberties – and journalism.
This week on CounterSpin: Tens of thousands of moral marchers descend on Raleigh North Carolina, the latest and most dramatic example of a social justice movement sweeping the state. The national press is mostly skipping the story; Sue Sturgis from the Institute for Southern Studies fills us in on what's happening.
Also on the show: You may have heard that the reason we have so many unemployed people isn't because there are no jobs, but because people don't have the right skills for the jobs that are open, in part because of our failing schools. If it doesn't sound right to you, that's because it's wrong. So why say it? We'll talk with labor historian and educator Toni Gilpin about the popular myth of the "skills gap."
This week on CounterSpin: Congress passed the nearly trillion dollar farm bill on Feb. 2nd—with more than $8 billion in cuts to food stamps, or the SNAP program as it is now known. What does this mean for people dealing with food insecurity, and where did the rest of the money go? We’ll talk to Joel Berg, the director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Also on the show: When the Olympics begin in Sochi, US viewers are likely to hear at least a little about Russia's crackdown on LGBT people and protests against it. If so it will be a rare instance of media acknowledging that politics are part of the Olympics story and not a detraction from it. We'll talk about Olympic activism with author and political science professor Jules Boykoff.
Paper misrepresents inequality poll
President Barack Obama has decided to talk less about income inequality and more about "opportunity." This shift to a more conservative framework to discuss economic divisions is, according to the New York Times, what the public wants. But that doesn't appear to be the case. Reporter Jackie Calmes (2/4/14) explained that Republicans think talking about inequality "smacks of class warfare," and suggests that the public at large thinks so too: "On this question, the president and his party have moved in Republicans'--and voters'--direction," she wrote. The Times added that Democrats see that opportunity frame "as more appealing to middle-class voters […]
Owners and advertisers vs. journalism
As new models for funding journalism are explored, some people are raising concerns about how foundations, for example, might unduly influence the content of the news they underwrite (CJR.org, 5/22/12). Such questions are valid, but they shouldn’t be taken as suggestions that such arrangements threaten novel encroachments on a now-pristine field. It shows how inured we’ve become to news brought to us by private corporations, who in fact care very much about the content of the news they sponsor or, as outlet owners, produce—that it not be too downbeat, or provide a platform for anyone asking hard questions about corporate […]