Saturday, 5 July 2008
Stahl, a widely published American poet and essayist, wishes to know why the media is refusing to air any details of a staggering 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Rand Corp., who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and depression. In a recent letter to the New York Times, former Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, accused the mainstream media of vastly underreporting the numbers of vets who return from war injured or hurt.
An exceptional example worth emulating by all genuine media activists is Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher, the author of “So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits, and the President Failed on Iraq”. The book is an edited collection of his extraordinary E&P columns from 2002 to 2007 about the war, which together constitute a powerful indictment of the big American newspapers. Mitchell was first to spot many military analysts who appeared on cable and network news shows were, in fact, scripted by the Pentagon, and further tainted by having business links to potentially huge profits from war contracts.
Here are some reasons why the American citizens more than ever need a compelling antidote to the cult of misinformation. As one who has been on the cutting edge of exposing the Bush administration's pre-emptive war on the media, Mitchell, the author of nine other nonfiction works, wrote that pundits who agitated for an attack on Iraq should be “on their knees begging the American public for forgiveness”. Media outlets ought to answer why it hasn't sufficiently probed the cakewalk crowd who promised a casual march to victory in Iraq. When media activists will press for an accountability of the likes of Ken Adelmen who misled the American media by claiming: 'measured by any cost-benefit analysis, such an operation would constitute the greatest victory in America's war on terrorism.' Had American taxpayers an easy access to alternate information sources it wouldn't have taken them four years to question the wisdom of the 'cakewalk' bunch.
What we need to give the public a true picture of continuing this war, the kind of honest "bad news" both in human terms and the trillion-dollar price tag yet to come. General Ricardo Sanchez's address to military editors and reporters is a clarion call for often compliant and at times co-opted journalists to wriggle out of their age of denial, dismissal and disapproval of sources that could have (and still can) otherwise provided alternate views of Iraq.
'America must hold all national agencies accountable for developing and executing the political and economic initiatives that will bring about stability, security, political and economic hope for all Iraqis,' said General Sanchez, adding: 'The best we can do with this flawed approach is stave-off defeat. The administration, Congress and the entire interagency, especially the Department of State, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure and the American people must hold them accountable.' Sanchez asked point blank: 'Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leaders involved in the management of this war?' While it took a uniformed officer four years to speak his mind in public is not unexpected, what is far more worrisome is that the US mainstream media has not risen up to secure straight, clear-cut answers.
Encouraging and embracing alternate sources of media has become increasingly important at a time when many US media organs tiptoe around issues in fear of overstepping their boundaries.
Serious short-comings of a complacent media, compounded by the derelictions of the complainant lobbyists raise the greatest ever need for encouraging alternate sources to help put a check on the American media’s misgivings and misreporting not as an occasional aberration but on a 24/7 basis.
Thursday, 3 July 2008
The recommedation by two advisory committees in Vermont State, USA that Al Jazeera news channel should continue to be offered on Burlington Telecom cable is not unusal but in line with how professional bodies elsewhere reflect on the merits and demerits of this news channel serving as an alternate source on global developments. The Citizens Advisory committee established by the Vermont Public Service Board and the Telecom Advisory Committee created by the Burlington City Council pondered if having Al Jazeera English brings any value to Burlington viewers. The timing of their deliberations coincided with that of the juries at two presigious media awards who recently looked at AJE's professional credentials.Al Jazeera English has excelled at the 17th Amnesty International UK Media Awards announced in London on 17th June . The awards recognise excellence in human rights reporting and acknowledge journalism's significant contribution to the UK public's awareness and understanding of human rights issues.
It may be recalled that on 10th June 2008, the award for “Best 24 Hour News Program” at the 48th Monte Carlo Television Festival conferred upon Al Jazeera English is not an aberration, but, one in a series of accomplishments scored by a news channel launched only in November 2006. The award recognized Al Jazeera English’s “extensive international reach and efforts to dig deeper to give its international audience a richer understanding of the events that affect their lives.”
The Defenders Council of Vermont has tasked itself to educate Vermont's citizens about the nature, reality of threats facing the United States. The DCV now calls for a referendum over what news channels should be available in Burlington. One wonders how all this fits with the learned and informed assessment of those who practice and profess media backed by decades of knowledge and experience.
For those who refuse to red between the lines here are some excerpts that may serve as eye openers should they sincerely wish to know how some well-informed and learned American professionals have recently evaluated the quality of what the US viewers are being offered: As major US television networks shy away from a candid coverage of the Middel East, increased access to alternate providers will help raise competition & accountability. CBS’ chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan who appeared on “The Daily Show” recently voiced a few candid observations about broadcast coverage of Iraq becoming increasingly scarce in U.S. media, which the NYT picked up in a story on 23 June 2008. “If I were to watch the news that you hear here in the United States, I would just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts,” she added.
Another recently published book that truly reveals how the culture of professional journalistic lapses, manipulation, "embedded" reporters, and the outright lies and mendacity by the neo-con media handlers, has built a vast institutional apparatus that is still fully in power, and still dangerous and destructive. Greg Mitchell, the author of "So Wrong For So Long", lists the failures of the media and journalism to hold the political establishment accountable and hence, placing the vitality of democracy at risk.
Eric Boehlert author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" is aghast at how the mainstream media -- through the collusion of its big multi-billion dollar corporate parents -- has joined the military-industrial complex in an ongoing effort to prop up a failed administration, guilty of illegalities, deception, fraud, negligence and gross failure.
It is increasingly feared that modern politics and media overload mean excellent sources of information are swallowed in a fog most Americans ignore or into which they refuse to peer. Writers like Larry Beinhart author of Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin" having been pointing out how television news is the primary fog machine that leaps over the big facts that are essential to the functioning of democracy to get to a story about a runaway bride.
Instead of referring to it as "a threat", DCV's should explore if access to channels like Al Jazeera could provide objective coverage of critical foreign policy and security issues, while many US media organs tiptoe around issues in fear of not to over step their boundaries. Armed with diverse news sources, the American people can crosscheck and verify the government's position to rid themselves of half-truths from the corporate media, which remains a willing accomplice in keeping American viewers continually subjected to what former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan calls "Washington's Culture of Deception."
It seems that the right of US viewers’ majority to have alternate news channels is being objected to by a handful but noisy few. Interestingly, many of such vocal elements possess no expertise either about the society in the Middle East its media, or the regional discourse on issues existing there.
Why some elements insist that Burlington need not get diverse news sources, is it because they have blind faith in whatever is doled out by corporate media or because some need to hide from the whole truth? Is it by mere chance that a campaign is pursued to deny the American viewers getting the other side of the story that usually doesn't make it on US media since many of whom are either co-opted by corporations and/or corruption?
One would expect media activists to ask the major US channels draw adequate attention to matters that are of vital concern for American lives. But many are found silent on most occasions. Others are observed busy to attract attention on irrelevant and insignificant issues.
Who, then, will lobby for the American people's right to get the fullest and clearest picture of the way American wealth and treasured lives are committed abroad?
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
The other two contestants short-listed were:
Assignment: Louisiana burning, BBC World Service - Joanna Mills, Jeremy Skeet, Mike Williams Inside Myanmar - the crackdown, Al Jazeera English - Tony Birtley, Lucy Keating, Marcus Cheek, Badrul Hisham.
Those serving on the Amnesty's panel of judges for entries in the category of International television and radio were Mike Blakemore, Katherine Butler, Tim Marshall, Naresh Puri and Tim Singleton.
It may be recalled that on 10th June 2008, the award for “Best 24 Hour News Program” at the 48th Monte Carlo Television Festival conferred upon Al Jazeera English is not an aberration, but, one in a series of accomplishments scored by a news channel launched only in November 2006. The award recognized Al Jazeera English’s “extensive international reach and efforts to dig deeper to give its international audience a richer understanding of the events that affect their lives.” Al Jazeera English beat entries from BBC News, Sky News, Lisboa TV and the Phoenix Satellite Television Company to take home the award.
Even a cursory glance at AJE’s accomplishments since its launch Al Jazeera English has proved it to be a unique news channel, winning a number of nominations in recognition of its professional quality and technical accomplishments. This also shows AJE’s potential to set new standards in the coming years:
Al Jazeera English's Far East Correspondent Hamish Macdonald won Royal Television Society''s Young Journalist of the Year Award for 2007 while it’s Africa correspondent Haru Mutasa was also among the three nominees.
Al Jazeera English was nominated for news channel of the year in its first year of broadcasting and was up against BBC News 24 and 2006’s winner Sky News. The awards were presented on 20 February 2008 at a ceremony at the London Hilton, hosted by ITV News at Ten’s Julie Etchingham. Over all, Aljazeera English won Royal Television Society Television Journalism Award nominations in the following categories: News - International Afghanistan: Taliban Embed - Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English News Channel of the Year Al Jazeera English Young Journalist of the Year Hamish Macdonald - Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English Haru Mutasa - Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English.
At the 12th Asian Television 2007 Awards, it won the award for Best Single News/Report (Kylie Grey, Orange) Environment Special, and came runners-up for Best news programme Half Hour Bulletin-from Kula Lumpur. Additionally, Al Jazeera English has won three awards at the BDA World Gold Awards. AJE was presented with three Bronze trophies at the 2007 PROMAX & BDA International Conference in New York 14 June 2007 in the categories of Art Direction & Design: Topical Campaign
An even-handed approach to judge a news channel is to look at its demerits and merits. Are there some commentators overwhelmed by an urge to become an executioner before even pretending to be judge and jury? In Aljazeera’s case, many critics with a disposition to dismiss everything new, haste to pass a judgement prior to looking at it sufficiently enough and objectively enough.
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" has a chapter titled "Selling the War," where he says the administration repeatedly "shaded the truth." He also stated, "In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage." In what might be the most disturbing statement in the book, McClellan said, "What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."
It was McClellan who turned Eric Boehlert author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" onto research compiled by analyst Andrew Tyndall, who found that almost all the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS from September 2002 until February 2003 could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Only 34 stories, or just 8 percent, were of independent origin. The manipulation of information grew to a level where according to Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein Washington had been overtaken by a “permanent campaign culture” with its constant spin, exaggeration and shading of the truth, all in the service of “manipulating the narrative” to partisan advantage.
In his October 2007 Address to the Military Reporters and Editors in Washington Lt. General (Ret) Ricardo S. Sanchez made a very vocal indictment of the media so far where he singled out the following aspects where the American media was failing some crucial challenges:
(1) "The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry."
(2) "Other major challenges are your willingness to be manipulated by “high level officials” who leak stories and by lawyers who use hyperbole to strengthen their arguments. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment. All of these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America. "
(3) "As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish “initial impressions or observations” versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not respond to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics."
(4) "As I assess various media entities, some are unquestionably engaged in political propaganda that is uncontrolled."
He went on to remind the journalists that one of their highly respected fellow journalists once told Sanchez that there are some amongst the reporters who “feed from a pig’s trough.”
McCellan saw closely how political news was manipulated for years, while as the commander of coalition forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004, General Sanchez despite access to all defence intelligence felt that truth was not coming out to the American public. Sanchez's just out book "Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story" accuses the Bush administration of "the cynical use of war for political gains." His sharp tongued conclusion: "Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars were unnecessarily spent, and worse yet, too many of our most precious military resource, our American soldiers, were unnecessarily wounded, maimed, and killed as a result. In my mind, this action by the Bush administration amounts to gross incompetence and dereliction of duty."
When it came to the facts from the Middle East, McClellan explains that Bush "and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war." In effect the administration and the compliant media were engaging in "self-deception."
Those who champion the cause of defending Vermont need to spell out how the American people can assure wider access to competent and qualified perspectives to challenge such practices. Critics of Al Jazeera should list alternates by listing which American channels have risen up to
provide clear cut answers to what's really going on in the Middle East.
Media outlets ought to answer why it hasn't sufficiently probed the cakewalk crowd who promised a casual march to victory in Iraq. How many media activists pressed for accountability of the likes of Ken Adelmen who misled the American media by claiming 'measured by any cost-benefit analysis, such an operation would constitute the greatest victory in America's war on terrorism.' Had American taxpayers an easy access to alternate information sources it wouldn't have taken them four years to question the wisdom of the 'cakewalk' bunch. Instead of making wrong choices and pursuing wrong approaches that are just goose chasing and witch-hunting exercises the US needs to befriend with the ones that capture and portray the facts professionally and far effectively. Now more than ever the US public and its opinions makers need tools that can help them separate the wheat from the chaff not occasionally but on an on-going, round the clock basis.
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Referring to some recent departures, a spokeswoman for Aljazeera has pointed out: "The channel is still opening new offices across the world and still recruiting new staff." The channel's Managing Director for business acquisition and development,Nigel Parsons, she said, believes it was "unrealistic to think that some people would not leave at the end of their two-year contracts".
Dave Marash offered these comments in an article to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"If it's been "market forces" that have kept Al Jazeera/English from an American audience - fears that it would have no audience, or that it would be "terror TV" - it is time to readjust to reality. If it's been political pressure that has kept Al Jazeera/English off America's cable and satellite servers, it's time to reject such literal "know-nothing-ism."
"I recently left Al Jazeera/English because of defects I saw in its attitude toward and coverage of the United States. But I still will watch regularly for its excellent coverage of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Without it, I'd be blind to half the planet. Why would anyone want that? Why do we as a nation, as a viewing audience, permit it: television news that institutionalizes willful ignorance of the world?"
Having now worked for both an American network and an Arab network, this is what Marash told to Newsweek's Daniel Stone how he sees the difference in the coverage between the two:
"I think that anyone who watches some of the in-depth shows [on Al Jazeera] will ask themselves, "Why doesn't American news do stuff like this?" Because they slow down and take a real look at some serious, positive, negative and very characteristically American issues. Nowhere in American TV do you see those kinds of things being address very seriously... I'll be a lifetime viewer. I think they're a terrific network."
Monday, 2 June 2008
Commentators, journalism teachers and media professional are increasingly questioning why the US media space remains in denial of alternate news channels offering a different perspective to American viewers.Will the American viewers realize what they have been missing out in terms of content richness, analytical depth and topics covered by Aljazeera English?
The news channel launched on 15 November 2006, is adored by many worldwide but still abhorred by some in the USA. But the number of those who have had a chance to see it abroad is voicing their surprise over the fact that it is not widely available in the United States. A look at the responses to Roger Cohen's column reflects a overwhelming number of readers favouring wider AJE access to US homes and institutions.
The article, Let’s face the new “core facts”, that appeared in in NYT and IHT can be seen here: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/11/opinion/edcohen.php
According to author and former executive of USIA, Alvin Snyder, it's a shame AJE isn't being given the chance to compete in the US marketplace. Writing more than two-years ago Snyder anticipated that AJ would be giving Fox, CNN and the others "a run for their money" in America, based on the popularity of its website in the US. This would have taken place if it was given a level playing field to perform and demonstrate its merits and demerits.
At a conference, “Creating Connections: New Partnerships for Understanding in the Middle East,” sponsored by the Vermont Peace Academy, Vermont Council on World Affairs and Norwich University. A participant said: “It’s an intellectual tragedy that the United States has cut itself out of Al Jazeera English’s contribution to [informative] conversation. Everything that’s happened to us in Iraq shows that’s very dangerous. The lesson of Iraq is: Ignorance kills.”
There is a noteworthy article in Asheville Citizen-Times on free expression which refers about those who manipulate opinions about imaginary risks if access to alternate media widens in the USA. See full text at:
A trends analysis of German media, reveals that Al-Jazeera English is now one of the most quoted international media outlets in Germany — “far ahead of CNN and neck-and-neck with the Washington Post,” says Roland Schatz, CEO of the Media Tenor, adding that the Arab media is becoming increasingly influential, largely due to the advent of the Qatar-based television network Al-Jazeera, which started an English-language version, from 15 November 2006. When asked if Al-Jazeera English will eventually become a major force in the TV news industry, Schatz responded: ‘‘Knowing about their ambitions and their cash resources, and knowing that they took a lot of BBC journalists, I would say, yes’‘. ‘‘Do you think it will take a couple of years?’‘ the journalist asked ‘‘I would say less,’‘ Schatz said. Media Tenor is the leading media institute in the field of applied agenda-setting research. The company’s detailed analysis of news reports provides insight to major corporations and government agencies, such as the U.S. State Department.
It is also worth to see Delinda C. Hanley’s article “Al Jazeera English: The Brave New Channel They Don’t Want You to See” in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2007 www.wrmea.com/archives/Sept_Oct_2007/0709024.html
Once David Brancaccio of PBS asked Josh Rushing, formerly a spokesman of the CentCom in Qatar, whether Al-Jazeera is a valuable shaper of public opinion that is too powerful for the US to ignore? Note the response below: "Looking back on it," says Rushing, "Al-Jazeera may be a more important front in the war on terror than Iraq was...it's the largest shaper of Arab opinion and perspective in the world." Full transcript at http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcriptNOW102_full.html
Dave Marash who is leaving Al Jazeera for writing and teaching pursuits offered these commentsin his latest article: "If it's been "market forces" that have kept Al Jazeera/English from an American audience - fears that it would have no audience, or that it would be "terror TV" - it is time to readjust to reality. If it's been political pressure that has kept Al Jazeera/English off America's cable and satellite servers, it's time to reject such literal "know-nothing-ism. I recently left Al Jazeera/English because of defects I saw in its attitude toward and coverage of the United States. But I still will watch regularly for its excellent coverage of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Without it, I'd be blind to half the planet. Why would anyone want that? Why do we as a nation, as a viewing audience, permit it: television news that institutionalizes willful ignorance of the world?"
The strongest criticism about the heads-in-sand policy has been voiced by someone who in his 25-plus year journalistic career has worked for United Press International Radio, the Associated Press Radio Network, US Radio Network, CBS Radio News, and NBC News Radio. Read Brad Gibson’ article “Stupidity Robs U.S. of Good, Fair Journalism” at http://thinktank.typepad.com/weblog/2007/01/stupidity_robs_.html
Thursday, 31 January 2008
Are there some commentators overwhelmed by an urge to become an executioner before even pretending to be judge and jury? An even-handed approach demands to judge a news channel on its demerits and merits. In Aljazeera's case, many haste to pass a judgement prior to looking at it sufficiently enough and objectively enough.
Al Jazeera English's Far East Correspondent Hamish Macdonald won Royal Television Society's Young Journalist of the Year Award for 2007 while it's Africa correspondent Haru Mutasa was also among the three nominees.
Al Jazeera English was nominated for news channel of the year in its first year of broadcasting and was up against BBC News 24 and 2006’s winner Sky News. The awards were presented on 20 February 2008 at a ceremony at the London Hilton, hosted by ITV News at Ten’s Julie Etchingham.
Over all, Aljazeera English won Royal Television Society Television Journalism Award nominations in the following categories:
News - International
Afghanistan: Taliban Embed - Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English
News Channel of the Year Al Jazeera English
Young Journalist of the Year Hamish Macdonald - Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English Haru Mutasa - Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English
Even a cursory glance at AJE's accomplishments in its first year suggests that with just twelve months since its launch Al Jazeera English has proved a unique news channel winning nomination in recognition of its professional quality and technical accomplishments. This shows AJE's potential to set new standards in the coming years.
Al Jazeera English has been awarded three awards at the BDA World Gold Awards. AJE was presented with three Bronze trophies at the 2007 PROMAX & BDA International Conference in New York 14 June 2007 in the categories of Art Direction & Design: Topical Campaign; Art Direction & Design: Image Campaign and Website-News.
This follows Al Jazeera English receiving one Gold and two Silver trophies for their innovative and fresh Creative Direction at the Promax/BDA Global Promotions & Design Conference in Dubai in March 2007. In June 2007 Al Jazeera English channel came in second position at the Broadcast Digital Channel Awards receiving 'Highly Commended' in the category of 'Best News Channel of the year'. Thus within a few months of being on-air only since November 2006, AJE is accruing worldwide recognition. Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the Al Jazeera Network says that all these nominations are "a testament to the strength of the Al Jazeera brand. We look forward to building on these early successes into the future."
Al Jazeera English was also nominated for awards at the One World Media awards in the categories of: 1. Broadcast Journalist of the Year: Nadene Ghour; Popular Features: 48 in Damascus, Amanda Palmer; MDGs Award: Malaria Week, The News Team.
Al Jazeera English was nominated for a total of eight awards at Promax/BDA Global Promotions in the following categories:
Best Programme Promo: Witness (AJE’s daily documentary strand)
Best Promotional Campaign: Splits-Best Sales & Marketing Presentation:
EPK (Electronic Press Kit)
Best Original Logo Design: AJE Design & People & Power Logo-
Best Animation: AJE DES People & Power Animation-
Best News & Factual Programme Title: People & Power, GOLD AWARD-
Best Sports Programme Title Sequence: Sportsworld Best Set Design: News, Silver Award.
At the 12th Asian Television 2007 Awards, it won the award for Best Single News/Report (Kylie Grey, Orange) Environment Special, and came runners-up for Best news programme Half Hour Bulletin-from Kula Lumpur. This came in addition to several other programmes that were nominated for the following:
For best documentary programme (People & Power: Exxon in the Dock)
News Report: Tony Birtley, Bangladurjoy
Best current affairs presenter, Teymoor Nabili for 101 East ;
It may be safe to conclude that critics may remain unable to come up with a comparable example of a news channel winning so much professional acclaim within first twelve months of its launch.
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