May 1 2007

Bono, I Presume?

Covering Africa Through Celebrities

“Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” declared U2 singer Bono (New York Times, 3/5/07), promoting his new (RED) line of products that propose to save Africa one iPod at a time. Celebrity interest in Africa is not particularly new, but today more stars than ever seem to be converging upon the continent, with television crews seldom far behind. But, as Bono clearly understands, what media tend to find sexy about Africa is not Africa itself, but the stars like himself who have taken up causes in the region. In television news in particular, with its typically cursory […]

Nov 1 2002

Another Day, Another Mass Arrest

Media unfazed by erosion of right to assemble

From September 25 to September 29, activists rallied in Washington, D.C. for the first large-scale U.S. protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On Friday, September 27, several hundred people–including activists, bystanders and journalists–were arrested en masse in what appears to have been an illegal and politically motivated detention. For many mainstream media outlets, the arrests were barely worthy of comment. ‘We want to leave peacefully’ The arrests occurred during the first of the weekend’s two most prominent actions, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence’s “People’s Strike.” The ACC ( called on activists […]

Jan 1 2000

Prattle in Seattle

WTO coverage misrepresented issues, protests

As tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Seattle to shut down the opening conference of the World Trade Organization meeting last December, mainstream media treated protesters’ concerns with indifference and often contempt. That hostility translated into slanted coverage of both the demonstrations and the police reaction. A U.S. News & World Report headline, “Hell No, We Won’t Trade” summarized a recurring motif: “anti-trade” became a common–though wildly inaccurate–label for the demonstrators in mainstream coverage. “A guerrilla army of anti-trade activists took control of downtown Seattle today,” a Washington Post article (12/1/99) began. ABC News reporter John Cochran (11/30/99) said […]

Jan 1 1994

Are All Yeltsin Critics ‘Hard-Line’ — Or Is That Just the U.S. Media’s Party Line?

When the Russian crisis began, CBS anchor Dan Rather suggested (9/21/93) that Boris Yeltsin “didn’t go far enough” in getting rid of the “hard-liners.” But how does a president legally get rid of elected members of parliament? President Yeltsin did it by simply dissolving parliament on Sept. 21, a blatantly unconstitutional move that won immediate support from the Clinton administration — and immediate excuses from most U.S. media. A New York Times editorial (9/22/93) referred to Yeltsin’s dissolution of parliament as “a Democrat’s Coup.” With the Clinton White House backing Yeltsin’s every move, including ultimately the assault on Russia‘s “White […]