Frank pereira is the host of a news show called The Big Picture on RSTV which I have been watching for some years now. He started conducting the show only recently after the sad and untimely demise of Girish Nikam. One of his recent shows drew my attention to the power that news anchors (or anyone conducting any event) command over the direction of a discourse. You watch as a mute spectator, listening to these suited people of respect behind a grandiose desk and some virtual background that gives the appearance as if the discussion is in some boardroom and is indeed a serious one. One of the roles of a conductor, though not mentioned explicitly, is how much time is assigned to which stream of thought. This has lead to a most unethical style of functioning, and is part the infrastructure of the ruling class.
To be sure, the west has been using this trick for all too long. Polish-British sociologist Ralph Miliband argued in 1973 of the role media plays in forcing people to think in a directed way about their society. The media presents a narrow range of ‘approved’ views and knowledge leading to very few alternative points to be presented. Similar views by Tunstall and Palmer (1991) given in Haralambos which I quote for the lack of better knowledge of the English language:
“… the governments are no longer interested in controlling the activities of media owners. Rather, ‘regulatory favors’ and ‘deregulation’ (the dismantling of state rules aimed at preventing media owners from gaining too much power) are becoming the norm- newspapers owned by a conglomerate will directly support a government or neglect to criticize government policy , or will even withhold information from the general public, in return for governments failing to enforce media regulations or even abolishing them altogether. “
The famous disaster of the media industry- the tragedy of Iraq war is a case that is fresh in mind of every citizen around the world. Almost 14 years since that “err in judgement”(the phrase that the media defends itself with) sadly, we as the onlookers have learned little.
Media bias in the Iraq dossier affair?
To rally support for [the 2003 Iraq] war, the Prime Minister’s office published a dossier of charges against Iraq in September 2002. It claimed, among other things, that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction (WMD)within 45 minutes. Yet with no WMD used by Iraqi forces in the ensuing war and none found, the dossier’s veracity came under suspicion .One of its allegations, which George Bushmade part of his 2003 state-of-the-union address, was discredited by intelligence sources. Then, in June 2003, a BBC journalist accused Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s chief spin-doctor, of having ‘sexed up’ the dossier against the wishes of Britain’s security services (in particular,inserting the ’45-minute’ claim).
But the BBC refused to back down,sparking a furious row with the government.This took a tragic turn when a government scientist[Dr David Kelly] who’d been exposed as the mainsource of the BBC’s story committed suicide. An inquiry into his death, which reported in January 2004, cleared the government of’sexing up’ the dossier and largely – but not wholly – vindicated the scientist’s employers, the Defence Ministry Criticism was instead heaped on the BBC,prompting the resignations of its director-general and chairman of governors.A related inquiry into intelligence failures,headed by Lord Butler, in July 2004 cleared the government of any deliberate attempt to mislead Parliament. But it did suggest that Mr Blair was prepared to exaggerate what turned out to be fairly thin evidence to bolster the case for a war. A parliamentary investigation cleared Mr
Campbell of this charge (he resigned in August 2003).
Source: © The Economist Newspaper Limited,
London, 5 April 2005
Power today is a feast of vultures, and you are not invited. I end with Edward Murrow’s grim but hopeful words : Goodnight and good luck.