Oct
01
2006

Star Power Trumps History in AIDS Coverage

A love letter to the 'two Bills'

A number of activists at the 16th International AIDS Conference complained that the Toronto gathering foregrounded the rich and famous—most prominently Microsoft chair Bill Gates and former President Bill Clinton—at the expense of front-line workers and people living with AIDS (e.g., “Activists Blast Focus on Celebrity,” Calgary Herald, 8/17/06). “They can’t have it both ways,” responded Conference co-chair Mark Wainberg (AP Worldstream, 8/17/06). Advocates who want the increased public attention that comes with media coverage, Wainberg suggested, should know the deal. “They should understand, as we all do, that we would not have 3,000 journalists at this conference if not […]

Jul
07
2006

John Feffer on North Korea, Neil DeMause on welfare and poverty

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: North Korea's launch of several missiles on July 4th revealed once again the sensational and crisis-driven nature of U.S. media coverage of North Korea. While media dredged up stories of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's irrationality and eccentricity, coverage left many Americans ill-informed U.S./North Korea relations. Korean expert John Feffer will join us to talk about the latest alleged crisis. Also on the show: Remember Ronald Reagan and his Cadillac-driving welfare queens? Now that the White House wants to tighten public assistance even further, officials are pushing a new image: welfare recipients will […]

Apr
01
2006

George Gerbner, 1919-2005

From anti-fascist fighter to cultural environmentalist

George Gerbner was born in Budapest in 1919 and fled to the United States to escape fascism in 1939, but he never lost his Hungarian accent. What he said about U.S. media culture often sounded as foreign as the way he said it. Gerbner spent his life in an adopted country saturated with graphic depictions of violence, a culture where the apex of expression often seemed to be focused through the crosshairs of a weapon. But he did not like media violence. I sat next to him at a dinner party while attending a conference in Istanbul, and the topic […]

Apr
01
2006

'Capote' vs. Capote

History, Hollywood and the mainstream media

About a year ago, in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, his journalistic account of a murder and its aftermath that he called a “non-fiction novel,” I began to do some research on the book and its author. I read just about everything published on Capote’s life and work, talked to some of the participants in the saga of the Clutter family murder and even visited the Holcomb, Kansas area, the scene of the crime. Initially, I had no idea that not one but two motion pictures about In Cold Blood were […]

Oct
14
2005

Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Katrina and racism, Ward Harkavy on the Bush Beat

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Most of the tales of murder and rape that came out of the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans never happened. But that didn't keep news media from conveying endless accounts of mayhem supposedly perpetrated by black thugs and gangs. Our guest says portrayals equating crime with African-Americans reflect a timeworn pattern, even when the stories are false. We'll talk to author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson about Race, Lies and New Orleans. Also on the show: The Judith Miller saga is just one of the stories that raises questions about the relationship between […]

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 […]

Mar
18
2005

Mark Jones on 'forgotten crises,' Jack Shaheen on Arabs on TV

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Humanitarian catastrophes claim millions of lives every year-- from brutal civil wars to disease and famine. Which stories make the headlines, and which are all but ignored by the press? We'll talk with Mark Jones of Reuters Alertnet about these 'forgotten crises.' Also this week: The vilification of Arabs and Muslims by American media is a longstanding tradition, well documented by author and researcher Jack Shaheen. Shaheen will join us today to talk about how American television is now targeting Arab and Muslim Americans with bigoted stereotypes, and what can be done about it. […]

Sep
01
2004

Media Mind-Readers

Pretending to know official motives is not journalism

As the U.S. government pressured the U.N. Security Council in October 2002 to endorse an invasion of Iraq, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw reported (10/17/02): “In Washington, administration officials worry that the continuing U.N. debate will only embolden Saddam if the language of the resolution is loaded with ambiguities.” By talking about the officials’ “worry,” Brokaw was reporting not simply on what they said, but on their alleged internal state of mind. It’s a chronic problem in the media: The beliefs, motivations and intentions of certain preferred sources—usually U.S. government officials—are described matter-of-factly by the press, as though reporters had the […]