Even before the bloody events of April, more than 300 Israelis and 1,200 Palestinians had been killed since the current Intifada began in September 2000 (Boston Globe, 3/31/02). Thousands more people have been injured. U.S. media coverage of the conflict was intense as Palestinian militants carried out several major suicide bombings and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) mounted a large-scale invasion of the West Bank. Amnesty International (4/3/02) condemned the targeting of civilians by both sides, voicing concern over "flagrant human rights abuses" by the IDF, including looting, mass detentions, the targeting of medical personnel and possible extrajudicial executions. Israel tried […]
A loaded term in the Mideast conflict
'Reform' is working, say media--but what does that mean?
Ever since President Bill Clinton's 1997 declaration that "we know now that welfare reform works," media coverage of the issue has been haunted by the question of just what "working" means. Passed amid rhetoric of saving poor families from poverty, but with a preamble explicitly pushing a Gingrichian agenda of marriage and abstinence, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act's "success" depends entirely on just what one assumes it was supposed to do. Unfortunately, most news outlets have largely ignored the actual effects of the law on such areas as female poverty, instead accepting the sunnier outlook put forward by […]
Lynx fur 'hoax' story shows the power of right-wing media
Former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (3/27/02) condemning "scientific fraud" by environmentalists. His first example: "The December revelation that employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service had planted fake wild lynx hair in states where there were no lynx, so that the areas could be labeled critical habitat, and thus off limits to human use." Unfortunately, du Pont garbled virtually every aspect of the story. Perhaps he made the mistake of believing what he read in the newspapers--particularly right-wing ones. Contrary to most news reports, the biologists did […]
Countless leaders have been deified by national emergency, but few have been remade as quickly and completely as George W. Bush. In many cases, those who had misread him as a simple tool, braying automatically at his most trivial mistakes, now automatically revered him. Such converts suddenly agreed with those who had seen Bush’s flaws as signs of latent greatness--thitherto the notion only of a large plurality, but now the common wisdom. And so, before you knew it, the seeming bozo was our savior. Not only were his famous foibles magically erased, but Bush’s entire political pre-history also slipped right […]
A slanted arena for discussions of slavery recompense
Speaking in defense of reparations for slavery on Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes (4/25/01), attorney Alexander Pires explained that if advocates for reparations could "tell the story" of slavery and its consequences, the public would "respond to it." "So what you’re saying is you really want a debate," Alan Colmes replied, "and...that’s exactly what we’re doing here. We’re discussing it. We’re debating it." There have certainly been numerous radio and television programs on the issue. Yet have the media really featured fair debates, providing a level playing field for advocates and opponents of reparations to voice their concerns and […]
One perspective is enough, says CanWest
A dispute between Canada’s largest media company and its journalists has put media concentration on the political agenda as seldom before. In January, organizations representing journalists across Canada called for a parliamentary inquiry into media concentration, especially at CanWest Global Communications. The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and the Quebec Federation of Professional Journalists (QFPJ) denounced actions of the media giant as "a disturbing pattern of censorship and repression of dissenting views." CAJ vice president Paul Schneidereit said the federal government needs to examine the issue of media ownership concentration. "We feel it’s time for the elected officials of this […]
On party, gender, race and class, TV news looks to the most powerful groups
On an average weeknight, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News are tuned in by approximately one-quarter of television-viewing homes in the U.S. (Nielsen Media Research, 2001)-- about two-thirds of the U.S. public that claims to follow current events regularly (Pew Research Center, 2000). In 22 minutes the newscasts deliver snapshots of national and international news that not only frame current events for the public, but influence story selection at local affiliate stations, at radio outlets and in print media. In addition to putting topics on the nation’s agenda, the networks help set the range of […]
Is another media world possible?
Attending the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre, in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, was like seeing the world upside down—or perhaps right-side up. From portrayals in U.S. mainstream media, it’s easy to see those who protest corporate globalization and “free trade” dogma as a small minority, as uninformed, as elitists. These notions were challenged by a forum that brought together some 50,000 participants from 150 countries, including people who represent millions of workers, peasants and the poor across the globe—united in criticism of global economic and environmental rules imposed by agencies such as the World […]