Tag Archives: Media

How the media contributed to the migrant crisis

When did you notice the word “migrant” start to take precedence over the many other terms applied to people on the move? For me it was in 2015, as the refugee crisis in Europe reached its peak. While debate raged over whether people crossing the Mediterranean via unofficial routes should be regarded as deserving candidates for European sympathy and protection, it seemed as if that word came to crowd out all others. Unlike the other terms, well-meaning or malicious, that might be applied to people in similar situations, this one word appears shorn of context; without even an im- or an em- attached to it to indicate that the people it describes have histories or futures. Instead, it implies an endless present: they are migrants, they move, it’s what they do. It’s a form of description that, until 2015, I might have expected to see more often in nature documentaries, applied to animals rather than human beings.

But only certain kinds of human beings. The professional who moves to a neighbouring city for work is not usually described as a migrant, and neither is the wealthy businessman who acquires new passports as easily as he moves his money around the world. It is most often applied to those people who fall foul of border control at the frontiers of the rich world, whether that’s in Europe, the US, Australia, South Africa or elsewhere. That’s because the terms that surround migration are inextricably bound up with power, as is the way in which our media organisations choose to disseminate them.

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Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Uncategorized


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On YouTube’s Digital Playground, an Open Gate for Pedophiles

Christiane C. didn’t think anything of it when her 10-year-old daughter and a friend
uploaded a video of themselves playing in a backyard pool.

“The video is innocent, it’s not a big deal,” said Christiane, who lives in a Rio de Janeiro suburb.

few days later, her daughter shared exciting news: The video had
thousands of views. Before long, it had ticked up to 400,000 — a
staggering number for a video of a child in a two-piece bathing suit
with her friend.

“I saw the video again and I got scared by the number of views,” Christiane said.

She had reason to be.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Reportages


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Something is wrong on the internet

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Posted by on August 6, 2019 in Reportages


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The media and the Mueller report

US Attorney General William Barr published his four-page summary of the conclusions of the Mueller report on 24 March 2019. Will this be a day that lives in infamy for mainstream media? Special Counsel Robert Mueller had spent more than two years investigating, with considerable resources, alleged collusion between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to influence the 2016 US presidential election in Trump’s favour. Barr’s summary of the 400-page report said that ‘the Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election’ (see The end of Russiagate, in this issue).

Mueller was so far beyond suspicion of Trumpian bias that he had become a subject of devotion for Democrats (there were even ‘St Robert Mueller’ prayer candles for sale online). But his report did not sustain the popular fake news that Trump was being blackmailed, or had become ‘Putin’s puppet’, based on Steele report-derived stories that the Kremlin had compromising video footage of his sexual escapades in a hotel in Moscow in 2013; dignified newspapers used the Russian spy term kompromat with relish. ‘Russiagate’ had become a recurring tag and story in prestigious publications from early 2017 (1).

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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in North America


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Inside China’s audacious global propaganda campaign

As they sifted through resumes, the team recruiting for the new London hub of China’s state-run broadcaster had an enviable problem: far, far too many candidates. Almost 6,000 people were applying for just 90 jobs “reporting the news from a Chinese perspective”. Even the simple task of reading through the heap of applications would take almost two months.

For western journalists, demoralised by endless budget cuts, China Global Television Network presents an enticing prospect, offering competitive salaries to work in state-of-the-art purpose-built studios in Chiswick, west London. CGTN – as the international arm of China Central Television (CCTV) was rebranded in 2016 – is the most high-profile component of China’s rapid media expansion across the world, whose goal, in the words of President Xi Jinping, is to “tell China’s story well”. In practice, telling China’s story well looks a lot like serving the ideological aims of the state.

For decades, Beijing’s approach to shaping its image has been defensive, reactive and largely aimed at a domestic audience. The most visible manifestation of these efforts was the literal disappearance of content inside China: foreign magazines with pages ripped out, or the BBC news flickering to black when it aired stories on sensitive issues such as Tibet, Taiwan or the Tiananmen killings of 1989. Beijing’s crude tools were domestic censorship, official complaints to news organisations’ headquarters and expelling correspondents from China.

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Posted by on March 27, 2019 in Asia, Reportages


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Watch: a Contentious, Constructive Debate on the Media and Political Humiliation from the Mueller Report

I obviously intended to write about the fallout from Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report: specifically his definitive finding that “the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” and that “the report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public.” Those two sentences alone permanently destroyed the prevailing Trump/Russia narratives – from blackmail fantasies to collusion tales – that consumed most of U.S. politics and media discourse for much of the last three years.

Just three weeks ago – three weeks ago – former CIA Director and now NBC News analyst John Brennan confidently predicted that Mueller was just weeks if not days away from arresting members “of the Trump family” on charges of conspiring with the Russians as his final act. Just watch the deceitful, propagandistic trash that MSNBC in particular fed to their viewers for two straight years, all while essentially banning any dissenters or skeptics of the narrative they peddled to the great profit of the network and its stars:

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Posted by on March 26, 2019 in North America


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Come nasce una teoria del complotto e come affrontarla, seconda parte

Seconda puntata di un’inchiesta in due parti sulle teorie del complotto. La prima si può leggere qui.

QAnon alla Casa bianca
Il 31 luglio 2018 una folla entusiasta ha accolto Trump a Tampa, Florida, indossando magliette di QAnon e alzando cartelli con scritto “Noi siamo Q”. Hanno rubato la scena al presidente, e i giornalisti hanno parlato solo di loro. È stata la definitiva irruzione di QAnon nelle cronache nazionali e, di lì a poco, internazionali. Su 8chan, Q ha commentato: “Benvenuti nel mainstream. Sapevamo che questo giorno sarebbe arrivato”.

Se prima di Tampa il presidente poteva aver ammiccato ai “fornai” scrivendo “17” in un paio di tweet, ora gioca col complotto in modo scoperto. Il 24 agosto 2018 Trump riceve nello studio ovale Lionel Lebron, sessant’anni, conduttore radiofonico e apostolo di QAnon. Lebron pubblica subito la foto in cui appare, gongolante, in posa col suo eroe.

In pratica, Trump ha accolto alla Casa Bianca un tale che accusa due suoi predecessori – Obama e Clinton – di capeggiare una setta satanica di pedofili. Accusa estesa all’intera opposizione e ad alcuni repubblicani, come il senatore John McCain, che proprio in quelle ore sta morendo.


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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Reportages


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Come nasce una teoria del complotto e come affrontarla

Prima puntata di un’inchiesta in due parti sulle teorie del complotto.

Fuoco sul quartier generale (di YouTube)
Il 20 settembre 2018 l’Fbi arriva a Cave Junction, un piccolo centro dell’Oregon occidentale che ha poco più di mille abitanti. Gli agenti cercano uno di loro, William Douglas, 35 anni. Non lo trovano a casa, ma lo intercettano davanti a un emporio, lo arrestano, lo portano via.

Douglas è accusato di aver minacciato di morte su Twitter l’amministratrice delegata e i dipendenti di YouTube, il terzo sito più visitato al mondo. “Vengo a beccarti, #prega”, ha scritto a Susan Wojcicki, poi ha annunciato di voler andare alla sede centrale dell’azienda per fare una strage: “Se volete più vittime, aka #sparatoria, vedrò quel che posso fare”.

Scrivendo “più vittime”, Douglas si riferiva a un episodio di qualche mese prima.

San Bruno, California, 3 aprile 2018. Una donna entra nel cortile della sede di YouTube durante la pausa pranzo e apre il fuoco con una pistola semiautomatica. Ferisce tre persone, una in modo grave, poi si uccide sparandosi al cuore. Si chiamava Nasim Aghdam. Due giorni dopo avrebbe compiuto 39 anni.

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Posted by on October 18, 2018 in Reportages, Uncategorized


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Our cult of personality is leaving real life in the shade

What kind of people would you expect the newspapers to interview most? Those with the most to say, perhaps, or maybe those with the richest and weirdest experiences. Might it be philosophers, or detectives, or doctors working in war zones, refugees, polar scientists, street children, firefighters, base jumpers, activists, writers or free divers? No. It’s actors. I haven’t conducted an empirical study, but I would guess that between a third and a half of the major interviews in the newspapers feature people who make their living by adopting someone else’s persona and speaking someone else’s words.

This is such a bizarre phenomenon that, if it hadn’t crept up on us slowly, we would surely find it astounding. But it seems to me symbolic of the way the media works. Its problem runs deeper than fake news. What it offers is news about a fake world.

I am not proposing that the papers should never interview actors, or that they have no wisdom of their own to impart. But the remarkable obsession with this trade blots out other voices. One result is that an issue is not an issue until it has been voiced by an actor. Climate breakdown, refugees, human rights, sexual assault: none of these issues, it seems, can surface until they go Hollywood.

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Posted by on October 3, 2018 in Uncategorized


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The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Uncategorized


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