Search Results for: Rachel Coen

Feb 1 2006

The Language of Extra!

Reflections on fairness and accuracy

A major focus of my research is the way language can be used to oppress or empower, and I have applied this perspective to media discourse in my writing for Extra! magazine. This has given me an opportunity to reflect on what it means—for media critics as well as for those we scrutinize—to be precise, independent, reasonable and evenhanded. By examining the work of fellow writers for Extra! over the past 20 years and in learning from my own assignments, I have altered both my own approach to criticism and my definitions of key terms. My first project for Extra! […]

Aug 1 2003

John Ashcroft Needs Help

Attorney general seeks media's aid in selling Patriot Act

On June 19, Attorney General John Ashcroft told editors and media executives at an Aspen Institute conference that the government needs the media’s help in “portraying accurately” the USA PATRIOT Act. The New York Times’ Adam Clymer reported (6/20/03) that Ashcroft stressed that public distrust of the law, passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, was based on bad information. According to the Times, Ashcroft had a few suggestions; for one thing, media should emphasize that the Patriot Act “isn’t something new, this isn’t something different, this isn’t some vast incursion into the freedoms of the American people.” […]

Jun 1 2003

Depleted Coverage of Uranium Weapons

In the build-up to the war against Iraq, U.S. television spent much time speculating about whether Saddam Hussein might acquire uranium for weapons. But the same outlets showed little curiosity about the U.S. and Britain’s actual use of uranium weapons during the war. Many U.S. and British munitions use a dense, toxic metal known as “depleted” uranium as ballast and to destroy armored vehicles. DU is uranium after most of the fissionable isotope has been extracted for use in nuclear weapons and power plants; it’s still radioactive, though less so than natural uranium. The U.S. military insists DU is not […]

Mar 1 2003

Another Stealth Assault on Liberties?

Muted media response to Ashcroft's proposed Patriot Act II

The Department of Justice has secretly drafted a sweeping sequel to the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Despite the draft legislation’s authoritarian provisions–including one that would empower the government to strip Americans of their citizenship if they participate in the lawful activities of any group that the attorney general labels “terrorist”–mainstream U.S. media have responded with only a handful of news stories. The news was broken on February 7 by the Center for Public Integrity, which obtained and published a full copy of the DOJ’s draft “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003” or “Patriot Act II” legislation. According to the […]

Mar 1 2003

Fear & Favor 2002 — The Third Annual Report

How power shapes the news

Introduction It would be hard to overstate the impact of news media in shaping public opinion, on issues from healthcare to plans for war. With media such an influence on us, it’s crucial that we understand who’s influencing media. FAIR’s annual Fear & Favor report is an attempt to chart some of the pressures that push and pull mainstream journalists away from their fundamental work of telling the truth and letting the chips fall where they may. These include pressures from advertisers, well aware of their key role in fueling the media business; from media owners, who frequently use their […]

Mar 1 2003

The Stossel Treatment

Selective editing and other unethical tactics

Sometimes John Stossel’s technique is no different from the sensationalism of any other tabloid TV entertainer. Witness his report on “dwarf tossing” (20/20, 3/8/02), in which he professed indignation at “busybodies” who want to stop the practice. “Dave Flood is a dwarf who is angry because his rights are being violated,” declared Stossel. “He wants to be tossed.” But Stossel’s approach can transcend the merely embarrassing, becoming careless or unethical. His reports are billed as news, but they sometimes rely on questionable methods such as deceptive editing that distorts arguments made by interviewees, the exclusion of facts that might conflict […]

Feb 1 2003

The FCC

Asking the Wrong Questions

FAIR values the opportunity to comment on the rules currently under consideration in the FCC’s 2002 Biennial Review. Unfortunately, the complicated and technical nature of the FCC’s public comment procedure does not encourage–and some would argue actually discourages–significant participation from the public, the citizens whose interests the FCC is supposed to safeguard. In addition, the specific questions under consideration by the FCC skew the inquiry in favor of deregulation from the start, presupposing that the media business is simply an industry like any other, best governed by a laissez-faire approach that maximizes profit. In a democracy, however, media occupy a […]

Jan 1 2003

The FTAA Is None of Your Business

A challenge to democracy

Trade ministers from across the Western Hemisphere gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Quito, Ecuador from October 31-November 1. The occasion: the 2002 ministerial meeting on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Thousands of other people gathered in Quito that weekend too–in the streets. Organized by a coalition of indigenous, labor, environmental and student groups, approximately 10,000 people marched to protest the FTAA. After enduring tear gas and intimidation, the protesters won a meeting to present their demands to the assembled trade ministers. At the confrontational meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick was told he should be […]