The Sunday Leader
The following editorial by Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered in Sri Lanka on January 8, 2009, was published in The Sunday Leader on January 11.
Three sectors have an interest in the media industry: governments, the private sector and civil society. While their interests do not coincide, there is always some overlap between them, specially between the interests of governments and private media. Ownership of the media has experienced a radical shift over the last decade. The worldwide expansion of neoliberal economies, technological developments and the emergence of international and regional multilateral trade agreements have brought about an increasing concentration of media ownership throughout the world.
This pattern of ownership of the means of communication reflects today’s global system, in which the world’s 225 richest persons own a combined wealth that is more or less equal to the annual income of the 2.5 billion poorest persons in the world. A handful of international and regional media corporations, such as AOL-Time Warner, News Corporation, General Electric, Sony, Vivendi, Viacom, Televisa, Globo and Clarín, control large sectors of the media market. Nearly 35% of all the newspapers distributed in the United Kingdom belong to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Silvio Berlusconi controls three of Italy’s four private broadcasting stations and he recently appointed one of his friends as head of RAI, the country’s public broadcasting station.
This contraction in the number of media owners and the stress on profitable content has led to a reduction in the number and variety of opinions, viewpoints and spaces for informed discussions. Media content and distribution systems are in the hands of a few corporations. As a result, ordinary people are denied access to independent media channels and alternative views on the future of the economy, politics and society.
When it comes to events of global import, in which winning public opinion over turns into a critical battle -as was the case with the last Iraq war-, mass media plays a key role. Ownership of such media and its relationship with political power structures, therefore, gain great significance. During the war in Iraq, the leading mainstream media of the US (with global coverage) became the main mouthpiece of the Bush and Blair administrations, not once questioning these governments’ intentions and justifications. Cases like this evidence the need for more serious and independent media that will allow people to access reliable information so they can form their own opinions and use the information to decide what issues to support.
The European Federation of Journalists, the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today warned that the adoption of a 'monstrous and dangerous' new media and communications law by Italian Senators will further endanger pluralism in one of Europe's most highly-concentrated media economies.
While other types of religious fundamentalism (Islamic, Hindu) and the media have been extensively written about, there is precious little material available on the relationship between Christian fundamentalism and the media, especially from the developing world. This article provides of interesting information about this issues. June 2005
APC opposes actions against the online presence of Al-Jazeera. The Internet must be allowed to freely perform its unique and vital role as a promoter of 'freedom of expression' and content diversity, especially in times of conflict.
An abstract of a speech made during a workshop on Asia and Commons that took place in Taipei January 19-20 2008. Among other issues that were discussed were concerns about the aggressive use of copyright and obscenity laws to place a chilling effect on political speech. March 2008.
Reporters Without Borders compiled this index by sending a questionnaire to the 15 freedom of expression organizations throughout the world that are its partners, to its network of 130 correspondents, and to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It contained 50 questions about press freedom in their countries. The index covers 169 nations. Other countries were not included because of lack of data.
The decision not to renew the concession to RCTV was made after a thorough investigation of their journalistic ethics including accuracy, objectivity, and their compliance with the Law on Responsibility in Television and Radio (which was denounced by Human Rights Watch for being a restriction of free speech). Since 1999 RCTV has spread blatant lies and outlandish manipulations of information directly attacking Chávez. Beyond this, RCTV were leaders in the 2-day coup in April 2002. May 2007.
Dozens of journalists are in prison today, serving sentences as long as 20 years. Locking up journalists instils fear and sends a clear message: Don't meddle with affairs that don't concern you. Government corruption, for example, or criminal activity linked to influential personalities, or the absence of political pluralism and human rights.
"No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last." Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered in Sri Lanka on January 8, 2009, wrote this for his last editorial published in The Sunday Leader on January 11.
The increasing number of journalists killed in Africa because of their work is a source of grave concern. The International News Safety Institute recorded 199 journalists and support staff who have died at work in Africa between 1990 and 2006. Eighteen have died in just the first six months of this year, the worst situation since 1999. In this context, INSI, in association with the International Federation of Journalists, launched Live News Africa, a guide to help journalists and other news professionals anticipate danger and to reduce risk during hazardous assignments on the continent. July 2007 (pdf version).
Across the Middle East today the people of Arab countries and Iran face the future with deep uncertainty. The global crisis of violence against journalists is most intense in this region. Unprecedented levels of killings of journalists and media staff reached a peak in 2006 with 155 deaths. On December 23, for the first time, the United Nations issued a statement condemning targeting of journalists and calling for prosecutions of their killers. May 2007.
The IFJ report says 2005 was a year "scarred by targeting and tragedy." Some 89 of the listed killings were journalists and media people murdered "in the line of duty" many of them assassinated by ruthless killers working for political gangs or criminals.
This paper, on electronic media's potential contribution to rural development in less-industrialized countries provides a theoretical argumentation on the influence of democratic deficits on the role of E-media in rural development, supported by case material and presents case material from Peru on how the different types of E-media contribute to rural development in that country. This paper also introduced the "information traffic pattern (ITP)" and "media richness" concepts. In this paper, the case for the multiple E-media approach will be made from the perspective of a need for multiple information traffic patterns. Based on this theoretical argumentation, the paper will provide suggestions for ways forward for the use of E-media in rural development in less-industrialized countries. Two of the main suggestions are to use existing local radio station as "anchors" in prospective E-media projects in rural development and to establish partnerships between local radio stations and local development NGOs, the latter aimed at stimulating the collection and dissemination of locally generated information. (February 2003)
This background paper has been prepared in order to launch a broad consultation to define indicators of media development in line with the priority areas of the IPDC: promotion of freedom of expression and media pluralism, development of community media, human resource development (capacity building of media professionals and institutional capacity building).The paper provides a detailed mapping of the main existing initiatives to develop indicators of media development and their respective methodologies. It also analyses the existing initiatives in terms of their value and relevance to the priorities of the IPDC. It should be noted that the mapping exercise includes only those initiatives which are concerned with measurable indicators, whether qualitative or quantitative.
Digitalisation of media is an approaching reality for Latin American countries. This technologic paradigm shift promises more democratic and diverse access to radio and TV frequencies. However, there is also a great risk of reproducing the same inequalities and power relations that exist in the “analogical” world and thus of media being in the hands of a few. This paper illustrates the political and regulatory implications of an apparently technical and thus neutral phenomenon. It also suggests advocacy priorities to create a more informed and active civil society. October 2007.
This paper extends the 'free as in free speech, not free beer' axiom of the free software movement to analyse the development of Internet media. In order to extend freedom to Internet media the author argues that any online spaces should adopt the principles of free software including the 'ability to add open content licenses to your work; transparent and democratic editorial processes; use of free software to run the website with the code available for others to make improvements to.'August 2007.
News has traditionally been in the domain of professional journalists. Recently there has been attempts to democratize this further in the form of news that is reported by ordinary citizens. The article looks at the results of a study which analyses the differences between the news reported by professionals in the field as opposed to citizen journalists. It looks like mainstream journalism and citizen journalism do have certain different viewpoints, but will probably co-exist without a problem as they address different needs of different sets of people. September 2007.
On July 25, the much anticipated satellite television station, Telesur, inspired by Hugo Chávez and founded by the Venezuelan government with support from Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, aired across South America to an estimated two million viewers. Network founders hope to counter North American cultural influence over Latin America’s media and entertainment by ultimately promoting a distinctly Latin American perspective. August 2005.
Starting with the recent media attention around desecrating the Koran, Landau goes deeper into the analysis of the US media. The media, mostly owned by multinational corporations, cannot play a legitimate news function because they must legitimate both their own corporate interests and that of the government, which protects and abets them in their international pursuits of greater wealth. The law doesn't restrict the US press, but its owners obviously do, concludes Landau.
A handful of giant corporations that specialise in every mass medium of any consequence has dominated what the majority of people in the United States see about the world beyond their personal experience. April 2005.
All governments lie, the muckraker I.F. Stone used to say. They fudge and omit. They bury and muffle inconvenient facts. They do this repeatedly, relentlessly, shamelessly. That's hardly surprising. Why shouldn't they seek -as a Marine Corps public affairs officer, Lt. Colonel Richard Long, told a conference on journalism and the Iraq war- to "dominate the information environment"?. But of late, the US government has had plenty of help in its efforts at dominance. To a disgraceful degree, the organs of news have been grinding out its tune.
This number of "Women in Action" includes a series of articles that support the idea that government and corporate media will continue to work together and devote their resources to power and propaganda and that the result will be more news and entertainment that push for the interests of the elite and the ruling class.
The global media system is now dominated by a first tier of nine giant firms. Besides needing global scope to compete, the rules of thumb for global media giants are twofold: First, get bigger so you dominate markets and your competition can't buy you out. Firms like Disney and Time Warner have almost tripled in size this decade. Second, have interests in numerous media industries, such as film production, book publishing, music, TV channels and networks, retail stores, amusement parks, magazines, newspapers and the like. The profit whole for the global media giant can be vastly greater than the sum of the media parts.
This collection of links looks especially at how the big US-based media companies adopt an overwhelmingly pro-Washington slant. In the US, the major television networks, newspapers and magazines steadily bombard the public with sensational, pro-war news reports that demonize Saddam, exaggerate the level of international support for Washington's policies, and pass along uncritically false rumors spread by US intelligence agencies.
In the post– September 11 world, there is a new verbal weapon—"terrorism." Despite a lack of evidence, Washington and the media are asserting links to terrorism in the Tri-Border Area to advance their agenda in a region that is increasingly shifting to the left. March 2008.
Network newscasts, dominated by current and former US officials, largely exclude Americans who are skeptical of or opposed to an invasion of Iraq, a new study by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has found.
Veteran journalist Robert Fisk has published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times about U.S. mainstream media coverage of Palestine/Israel. In the face of pressures on American journalists in the Middle East, let's call a colony a colony, let's call occupation what it is, let's call a wall a wall. And maybe express the reality of war by showing that it represents not, primarily, victory or defeat, but the total failure of the human spirit. December 2005.
In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people are turning away from the traditional sources of news and information, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power. The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this. In the United States, several broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and exposed the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, instead of amplifying and justifying them, the invasion might not have happened. December 2005.
The Al-Jazeera Arab news network provides a means for expressing different viewpoints which are not traditional in Arab society. Facing opposition both by Arab and Western governments, Al-Jazeera's success is due precisely to the freedom its programmers and speakers enjoy, which allows them to become credible communicators, claims investigator Fatema Mernissi.
Since the early 1970s, countries of South have been campaigning at international fora such as UNESCO for a new information and communication order that presents a balanced perspective of events and issues across the globe. By telecasting in English, employing known western journalists and reaching homes in western countries, Al Jazeera has clearly sought to occupy a space that was excluded or marginalised by western bias in the media. Al-Jazeera's English-language news channel made its premiere November 15, 2006.
Nothing puts the lie to the Bush Administration's absurd claim that it invaded Iraq to spread democracy throughout the Middle East more decisively than its ceaseless attacks on Al Jazeera, the institution that has done more than any other to break the stranglehold over information previously held by authoritarian forces, whether monarchs, military strongmen, occupiers or ayatollahs. December 2005.
A study carried out by the Panos Institute Paris on coverage of the Southern press regarding the events linked to September 11 showed that, despite the pre-eminence of American sources, Arab and African media demonstrated a genuine independence in the way they treated the news. The second report, here-after presented and devoted to Arab and Iranian media coverage of the first anniversary of the attacks in New York and Washington, confirms the same thesis: Southern media do produce specific commentaries on global events, even though their interpretation is said by many media critics to be largely predetermined by the American media. PDF format.