George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, was also a BBC journalist
"Global declines in press freedom" persisted last year, with setbacks highlighted in Israel, Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere across the world, an annual survey said Friday. ... "This marked the seventh straight year of overall deterioration. ... Given the current economic climate, which is certain to place a further strain on media sustainability and diversity in rich and poor countries alike, pressures on media freedom are now looming from all angles and are increasingly threatening the considerable gains of the past quarter-century," the report said. CNN, 5-2-09
“The 12 ‘Enemies of the Internet’ - Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam - have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable’ online information,” Reporters Without Borders said. Reporters Without Borders, 3-12-09
Day Six: I find I am needing less sleep. Hunger and headaches have gone. I feel clear-minded and somewhat emotional. Also spiritual. Except for the visits with my family, there is nothing but my thoughts. I do have a TV in my room and sometimes I watch it but more and more I feel inclined to read, meditate and pray. Mia Farrow, 5-2-09
Global News Media Update: Across the Planet, Having A By-Line Demands Courage, But in the USA, for Every Danny Pearl, There are 100 Anderson Coopers
By Richard Power
As I have noted over the years (most recently in While Journalists Risk Their Lives Across the Planet, the US Mainstream News Media Continues to Misinform & Misdirect on the Economic Crisis), in other parts of the world, journalists risk their lives for the truth, in the USA, it is rare to find one that will risk even their job.
As I write this post, Mia Farrow is on the sixth day of her hunger strike for the people of Darfur. On the first night, Larry King gave her a few minutes at the end of his show, after a segment on Swine Flu, and a segment on the death of actress Bea Arthur. And elsewhere in the US mainstream news media? Nothing or next to nothing.
You can follow her video-blogging on her own site and via the power of You Tube. (I have embedded her broadcast from Day Five at the end of this post.)
What would it cost one of the cable news networks (or all of them) to run her video blog posts every night? Several minutes of air time? What would it do for awareness of the plight of the people of Darfur? What would it gain the networks in good will? It could even be used as a justifiable foil with which to generate controversy about the Obama-Biden administration's first 100 days.
But the US mainstream news media apparently has no interest in Jefferson's vision of its role in the life of this nation.
For every Danny Pearl, there are one hundred Judith Millers.
For every Roxana Saberi, there are one hundred Mara Liassons.
For every Bill Moyers there are one hundred Anderson Coopers.
Consider this story from CNN on the tightening of controls over news media freedom throughout the world.
Meanwhile, here in the USA, and especially on TV, freedom of the news media is frittered away on the dumbing down of the populace with unimportant and sensationalistic stories and the distortion of real news stories with the propagation of false and half-false memes.
Here are a few examples --
There is no genuine debate on what constitutes torture. It was decided on long ago, clearly defined, and signed on to by treaty. And yet, in general, the US mainstream news media perpetuates the false meme that it is a debatable issue.
There is no genuine debate any more about the reality of the climate crisis, or its severity, or its origins in the burning of fossil fuels. And yet, in general, the US mainstream news media perpetuates the false meme that these three issues are the subject of rational debate.
Just as it propagates the false meme of "the success of the surge" in Iraq. Tell me, if you knock out a rapid dog with a tranquilizer gun, will it no longer be rapid when it comes to it senses again?
Similarly, in general, the US mainstream news media refuses to acknowledge the reality that not only is single payer universal healthcare the preference of most of the US electorate, it would also be less expensive than what we don't have now.
In the USA, the freedom of the news media is not greatly compromised by the government, it is greatly compromised from within and above, i.e., from the Board Room and at the C-Level, on behalf of energy, pharma, insurance, banking, telecommunications and yes defense industry interests. And this compromising is carried out not so much overtly as it is through the pressures of corporate culture. Of course, the US mainstream news media is not alone in its denial and dysfunction, the US political establishment, in general, also perpetuates these false and half-false memes.
Why? The extreme concentration of wealth exerting its influence on public debate in the corridors of government as well as on the air waves.
And yes, those of us fortunate enough to have convenient Internet access and the unstructured time to do our own research get our news from diverse source throughout the world via cyberspace. But as Reporters Without Borders pointed out in their report on "Enemies of the Internet," that resource too has been targeted by those who want to hold on to power to further exploit both humanity and nature. (Of course, the report does not go into the velvet glove approach being attempted in the USA. Click here to learn more about the struggle for Net Neutrality.)
Our ability as a nation to exert power and influence on behalf of endangered journalists throughout the planet is seriously weakened by the embarrassing fact that our own mainstream news media is little more than an extension of corporate power.
You will note I have inserted an "in general" in my use of the phrase "US mainstream news media," because, after the debacle of the media's full participation in The Hunting of the President in the 1990s and their faint-hearted complicity in the abomination of the Bush-Cheney era, there is a crack in that high wall, and the crack has several seams, which are getting larger and larger. Light is seeping through. There is an hour a week on PBS, i.e., Frontline. There are three hours a night on MSNBC (five hours if you can the repeats), i.e., Olbermann, Maddow and now Schultz. And there is still the miracle of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central.
There is hope, and there has been a modicum of change, but both are fragile, and there is a long way to go. Progressive talk radio, arguably, the most powerful force of all, is hanging on by a thread -- not because it is unsuccessful, but because it has been too successful. (Click here to learn more.) Bastions of the Web-based information rebellion, like indefatigable Buzzflash, have to struggle for the money to keep going month to month.
And, of course, meanwhile, you will have to follow Mia Farrow's hunger strike for the people of Darfur here and at www.miafarrow.org.
"Global declines in press freedom" persisted last year, with setbacks highlighted in Israel, Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere across the world, an annual survey said Friday.
Freedom House, a nongovernmental organization that supports democracy and freedom of the media, said in its annual press freedom survey that "negative trends" outweighed "positive movements in every region, particularly in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa."
"This marked the seventh straight year of overall deterioration. Improvements in a small number of countries -- including bright spots in parts of South Asia and Africa -- were overshadowed by a continued, relentless assault on independent news media by a wide range of actions, in both authoritarian states and countries with very open media environments."
Israel -- once the only country to be consistently rated free by the group in the Middle East and North Africa -- was ranked as "partly free" because of the Gaza conflict. ...
Elsewhere in the Middle East, there are concerns about harassment of journalists and bloggers in Libya, Iran, Syria, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The drop in violence in war-torn Iraq helped journalists move around the country, and a new law in the Kurdish region gave journalists "unprecedented freedoms."
Hong Kong, which is part of China, also dropped in rankings from free to partly free, a reflection of "the growing influence of Beijing over media and free expression in the territory." ...
The worst-rated countries in the world are Myanmar, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea and Turkmenistan.
"Given the current economic climate, which is certain to place a further strain on media sustainability and diversity in rich and poor countries alike, pressures on media freedom are now looming from all angles and are increasingly threatening the considerable gains of the past quarter-century," the report said. CNN, 5-2-09
Reporters Without Borders ... issued a report entitled “Enemies of the Internet” in which it examines Internet censorship and other threats to online free expression in 22 countries.
“The 12 ‘Enemies of the Internet’ - Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam - have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable’ online information,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“All these countries distinguish themselves not only by their ability to censor online news and information but also by their virtually systematic persecution of troublesome Internet users,” the press freedom organisation said. Reporters Without Borders has placed 10 other governments “under surveillance” for adopting worrying measures that could open the way to abuses. The organisation draws particular attention to Australia and South Korea, where recent measures may endanger online free expression. Reporters Without Borders, 3-12-09
For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.
For Words of Power's archive of posts on Corporate News Media Complicity, Power of Alternative Media, Propaganda & Freedom, click here.
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz, Danny Pearl, Roxana Saberi, Mia Farrow, Bill Moyers, Freedom House, Darfur, Reporters Without Borders, Media Matters, Blogosphere Richard Power,