Sep
09
2005

Rosa Brooks and Sheelah Kolhatkar on Hurricane Katrina

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: "Katrina Rekindles Adversarial Media" --that headline from USA Today has been a theme in a number of press reports, which see signs of critical and independent thinking on the part of reporters covering the hurricane and its aftermath. Others aren’t so sanguine, wondering why it took a disaster of this scale to shake reporters into acting like, well, reporters. How is covering this story affecting journalists? And how long will those effects last? We’ll talk today with Rosa Brooks, of the University of Virginia School of Law, about mainstream media’s ‘startling discovery’ of poor […]

Jun
01
2005

World's Worst Disasters Overlooked

Survey identifies biggest “forgotten” crises

Congo is the site of the world’s worst humanitarian emergency, according to U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland, the organization Doctors Without Borders and most relief professionals. But English-language media have given the crisis minimal attention, according to a study of humanitarian disaster coverage released on March 10. The study was commissioned by web-based Reuters AlertNet, an eight-year-old U.K.-based humanitarian news network. It found that the tsunami that ravaged Indian Ocean coastal regions on December 26, 2004 garnered more English-language media coverage in the first two months after it struck than 10 other “forgotten” emergencies—six of them in Africa—have received […]

Feb
24
2005

Ex-Presidents as Pitchmen

Touting Good Deeds

An Associated Press dispatch from a Thai fishing village summed up the media spin a few days ago: "Former President Bill Clinton’s voice trembled with emotion as he and George H.W. Bush put aside their once-bitter political rivalry..." Ever since his initial checked-out responses to the catastrophic tsunami two months ago drew worldwide derision, the current president has largely relied on two predecessors to do the image-repair chores. In effect, an ad hoc PR outfit -- Bush, Bush & Clinton -- has the three partners laboring to make themselves look good as compassionate great nephews of Uncle Sam. But there […]

Jan
01
1997

Media Bomb on TWA Crash

Despite Oklahoma City, Journalists Still Played Guessing Game

TWA 800 reconstructed

Two days after the crash of TWA Flight 800, the New York Times (7/19/96) ran a story headlined “Newspapers Were Wary This Time, and Didn’t Jump to Conclusions." The Times argued that the memory of how much of the media rushed to blame Arabs after the Oklahoma City bombing (Extra!, 7-8/95) prevented any jumping to conclusions in the TWA case. That same issue of the New York Times featured a column by its former Mideast correspondent, Clyde Haberman, which led: This may seem to be jumping the gun.... But it is probably time for Americans to accept terrorism as a […]

Mar
01
1990

Unreliable Sources: Slick Coverage of the Exxon Valdez Spill

In the aftermath of Exxon's 11-million-gallon oil in March 1989, U.S. news media described an Alaskan coast with countless dead animals, decimated plant life, and a massive black blanket covering nearly 1,100 miles of shoreline. But within a few months, a different story gained currency, as reports out of Prince William Sound took on a friendly and forgiving tone. National media began to focus on the damage not done by Exxon's blunder, heralding Big Oil's efforts to preserve Alaska's environment. Out of the jaws of catastrophe, Exxon snatched a news spin increasingly to its liking. During one week in September […]