Friday, May 23, 2008

Corporate News Media

The current polemic over the negative coverage of Africa is becoming strident in tone. At the recently held International Media Forum in Johannesburg, several members of the foreign media faced allegations of bias. Sensitivities were focused on the reports of xenophobic violence gripping South Africa. Naturally the debate completely ignored the big questions, namely whose agenda is being served and who ultimately owns the world's major media outlets. As usual the underlying cause of the dissent, over content and analysis, remained firmly swept under the rug. Lest we think this is a peculiarly South African problem, take a look at this interview with legendary political commentator Gore Vidal...

...and there it is, the twin horrors of propaganda and censorship. Granted our issues differ somewhat from those in US, yet the methodology is practically identical. Corporations control what we get so see and hear, supposedly at the behest of political puppets already bought and paid for. All in the name of furthering corporate interests. So does a spat between local and international journalists matter? Sadly, no. Their paymasters will further their agenda regardless and, if truth be told, these disputes actually provide perfect cover for those aims.

However, its becoming increasingly difficult to keep the lid on the news in this brave new digital world. Illegitimate wars, corrupt deals, electoral fraud and a myriad other transgressions eventually surface thanks to activism and technology. The internet is an obvious tool for dissent, less so broadcast television. Unless you're brave or a satirist, or John Stewart:

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