Hard Rain Journal 8-12-06: News Media Control on the Poorest Continent & in the Richest Nation
By Richard Power
At a UN-affiliated University of Peace conference held earlier this week in Nairobi, 100 representatives from news media from throughout Africa, gathered to draw attention to limits on freedom of the press in their countries. Countries singled out for dishonorable mention included Zimbabwe, Libya and Eritrea.
Of course, on the African continent, the press experiences direct governmental repression. In the USA, control is exercised within the media monopolies themselves. It is a subtler, and more nefarious form of control. Obedience and docility in the media are fostered by these monopolies' corporate cultures. In the USA, it is not the government that controls the press, it is a grouping of monopolies that controls both the press and the government. And it is a profound threat to the democratic institutions we cherish. Without a free press and fair elections, there is no democracy. Without democracy, there is no real security. For in-depth analysis of the state of the US mainstream news media, consult Media Matters, Fairness and Accuracy in Media (FAIR) and Editor and Publisher.
Here is an update from the Nairobi conference on the situation in Africa:
"The media is threatened from everywhere by draconian laws passed by parliament, threats from the executive and threats from the judiciary, which locks up journalists for doing nothing. This is actually judicial terrorism," Wilfred Kiboro, chief executive officer of the Nation Media Group, told the meeting....The situation in Zimbabwe received particular attention.... Delegates to the conference heard that reporters elsewhere in Africa are also feeling the heavy hand of government intervention. "Countries are re-regulating instead of deregulating the media, and as such press freedom is under fire," said Banda.
This can have dire consequences for the political and economic health of states.
"There are lots of risks if governments take to regulating the media too much. There is bound to be lots of mismanagement (and) bad governance where corruption is never revealed. A lot of bad practices can happen without control when the media is silenced," Pär Granstedt, a member of European Parliamentarians for Africa, told IPS.
"Transparency is very important in government dealings, and it can only be overseen if the media is free. This is where politicians and the media have to sit together, and ensure that laws that enhance freedom of the media are in place."
For Mary Karooro Okurut, a member of parliament in Uganda, such negotiations would best be pursued through having media organisations join forces -- to press all African countries to pass standard legislation guaranteeing press freedom.
"We need one umbrella body on the continent that would lobby and have this matter taken to the African Union, so that similar legislation about the press is adopted all across (the continent). (It's) not for each country to take its own stand," she told IPS at the meeting....
But, continent-wide legislation for press freedom is likely to be a tough sell in certain states -- as the CPJ's recent list of the '10 Most Censored Countries' indicates.
Three African nations -- Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Eritrea -- feature on the list, issued May 2....
Libyan media are termed "the most tightly controlled in the Arab world", with the CPJ noting further that last year's unsolved murder of journalist Dayf al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi "has sent an unmistakable message to would-be critics."
According to the committee, Eritrea has no privately-owned media whatsoever -- making it unique amongst the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Some 15 journalists have been imprisoned in this East African state for the past five years.
Joyce Mulama, "Threatened From Everywhere", Inter Press Service, 8-10-06
Hard Rain Journal 7-22-06 Weekend Edition: Updates on US Election Fraud and the Dan Rather Watch
SPECIAL EDITION: “The More Nefarious Form of Corruption is That Which is Legal” -- Words of Power Interviews David Sirota
SPECIAL EDITION: “Until this issue is burning on the mind of every citizen” -- Words of Power Interviews Mark Crispin Miller
Hard Rain Journal 7-13-06: Dan Rather Not -- Will Former CBS Anchor Join Moyers & Cronkite in Wilderness, & Speak Truth to Abuse of Media Power?
Hard Rain Journal 7-5-06: Al Qaeda Endorsed Bush-Cheney in 2004, But US Mainstream News Media Chose to Ignore It
Hard Rain Journal 6-29-06: What are the Global Implications of Neo-Totalitarianism in both US and China? Will The New York Times Fight for Freedom?
Hard Rain Journal 6-19-06: Coulter, Beck and The Death of The News
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Eritrea, Libya, Zimbabwe, Africa, News Media, Alternate Media, Media Matters