Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What happened to real journalism?

Attended a great presentation by Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, a great independent news organization. She showed her documentary on the media in Iraq, and promoted her book "Exception to the Rulers". This administration's system of embeded journalism (or more accurately, government in-bed with the journalists) has re-defined the news media's role. Gone are the days of a media that raised questions of our governements actions, that dared to present a dissenting viewpoint as we saw during the Viet Nam years. Why have we not seen coverage of Iraqi civilian casualties, the destruction of homes, bodies of soldiers returning in coffins? During the Iraqi invasion, network news dutifully renamed their programs to coincide with the official US title, they hired retired US generals, they spoke of surgical strikes (a myth), and minimal civilian casualties (un-truths). Even the most conservative estimates by independent agencies show nearly 10,000 civilian casualties.

Amy's film showed the horrible images of war; children burned and dismembered. Mothers holding dead babies, villages destroyed. She showed CNN's sanitized coverage for US audiences, while CNN International showed the same event covered without deleting the scenes of carnage and destruction. She showed films of American tanks rolling up to the news bureaus of Abu Dabi News and Al-Jazerah and blasting thier headquarters killing several journalists (you may not like Al-Jazerah, but these were news reporters, not combatants). Why wasn't the protests during the Republican National Convention covered by the news media? These were the largest political protests ever in NYC, and the most arrests during a single event (2000 protesters), yet it failed to get any significant news coverage.

Amy Goodman's most significant point during the evening was; and I will quote to the best of my memory, "It is hard to imagine that if this was a government controlled news media, would the coverage of the Iraq war would be any different?". Maybe if the press had played the role of real journalists, and doggedly asked the probing questions that should have been asked about WMD's, the supposed threat that Iraq posed, the motivating factors that would bring us to war and occupation... maybe this war would have been avoided.

This presentation was sponsored by WHUS. Proud to say, its the station that airs my jazz radio program Sunday 2-4 PM (Ha... snuck a promo in there!)

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