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News :: Protest, Resistance and Direct Action
UFPJ and MediaChannel Focus on Media Complicity in Iraq War-Protest 3/15
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01 Mar 2006
Last week, new photographs of detainees abused by US soldiers in the infamous Abu Ghraib gulag in Iraq surfaced. They were discovered by the American Civil Liberties Union. The story was covered on TV… in Australia!
by Danny Schechter
Email: Source: MediaChannel.org
The most elaborate statistics on the abuse scandal appeared in the press.
· 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse
· 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse
· 660 images of adult pornography
· 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees
· 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts
This information made headlines in the Guardian newspaper… in England!
Meanwhile, in the United States, all of the networks covered a speech by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man who once famously said, “As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."
Now, the Pentagon’s Rumsfeld is declaring a new war — on the press. The Washington Post reports:
“Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday called for the U.S. military and other government agencies to mount a far more aggressive, faster and nontraditional information campaign to counter messages of extremist and terrorist groups in the world media. Rumsfeld … lashed out at the U.S. media, whose coverage he blamed for effectively halting recent military information initiatives, such as paying to place articles in Iraqi newspapers.”
Rumsfeld’s attack on the media for mildly questioning propaganda posing as news is consistent with the Administration’s management of war news through a billion dollar “information warfare” program that engineered positive media coverage for the invasion.
That continuing coverage documented by critics, including in my own new book, "When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War,” is on its way from being a public complaint to becoming a political issue.
America’s largest anti-war coalition, United For Peace and Justice, is broadening its anti-war protest to include targeting a US media system that has largely substituted jingoism for journalism and backed the war — often in the name of supporting the troops.
UFPJ Coordinator Leslie Cagan announced her organization is partnering with MediaChannel.org and other media groups to organize a Media Day of War Coverage Protest on March 15, 2006. It takes part during a week of organizing and activism marking the third anniversary of the war. Plans are also underway for forums and film screenings on March 15th.
“We are thrilled that anti-war activists will now be connecting with media reform activists to challenge mainstream media 'coverage' that has underreported civilian casualties and much of the costs of the war,” says MediaChannel Director David DeGraw.
“Sadly, the media helped make the war possible, and despite mea culpas about flawed pre-war coverage, the coverage has basically not changed, an approach which treats every Administration claim seriously, while marginalizing the anti-war movement.”
Even as public opinion shifted against the war — only 37% of the American people are said to still back the war - most of the media downplay reporting on demands for troop withdrawal.
Focusing on the media role is a departure for the anti-war movement that helped organize the protests that brought 30 million people to the streets on March 15, 2003. Until now, protesters have focused almost entirely on government policies and practices.
Recognizing the media role indicts a corporate America that has, in some cases, profited from the war with rises in ratings and revenues. This includes General Electric (GE), owner of NBC-Universal, who received $600,000 in Iraq reconstruction contracts.
Before the war began broadcast networks lobbied the FCC for rule changes to allow them to buy more stations. At the time, Washington insiders spoke of a quid pro-quo with the networks asking the FCC to waive their rules while their news shows waved the flag. In that period, then FCC Commissioner Michael Powell justified a need for more media concentration with the claim that “only big companies can cover a war like the one in Iraq.”
Many journalists and media organizations have since blasted one-sided coverage. Editor & Publisher, a media industry trade magazine, has consistently documented and criticized pervasive media practices that boosted the war with more "selling than telling."
Mediachannel.org launched a “Tell the Truth About the War” campaign months ago, calling for better and more consistent coverage. Thousands of emails from readers have gone to media executives.
If the war is to end, the coverage has to change. We need to press the press and move the media.
Now MediaChannel plans to organize meetings between critics and media companies. Planning for protests and panels is underway - not only in New York, but at local newspapers, radio and TV stations across the nation as part of a national effort. A national email campaign will be launched as well.
If you would like to endorse or participate in this effort, or help in your community by organizing meetings, house parties - including screenings of WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) and other films critical of the war media coverage - contact Priya (at) mediachannel.org
United For Peace and Justice and MediaChannel.Org suggest that the following on the 15th:
l. Endorse the campaign for "Truth in Media" by signing a MediaChannel email or writing one of your own. [MediaChannel's email campaign will begin March 8th. To be notified visit http://mediachannel.org/email/ and sign up for Media For Democracy Alerts.]
2. Call journalists and talk show hosts.
3. Write letters to the editors.
4. Notify media outlets in advance about what you will be doing and why, and ask for coverage.
5. Post MediaChannel and UFPJ announcements on your websites and your email list serves.
6. Form delegations to meet with local media decision makers at newspapers, radio stations and TV outlets in your hometown.
Note: Media executives and Editorial Boards regularly meet with politicians and interest groups. Why not anti war organizations? Find out who runs your local media outlets, call them and set up a meeting. Plan carefully for the meeting so that you have key message points and tough questions. Be as specific as possible and ask media outlets to report on civilian casualties, covert activities, corruption and anti-war activism. For further advice, contact: Priya (at) mediachannel.org
7. Organize mid-day protests in front of your local media outlets when people are out in the streets.
* Bring signs challenging the media to show us the war and tell the truth.
* Show photos of war crimes and demand more coverage of the anti-war
* Be visual and peaceful.
* Carry signs that ask passing cars to honk if they want to end the war.
* Get names and emails from spectators who want to get involved.
8. Mount candlelight vigils at 6 PM outside TV and Radio Stations when the 6 PM News is underway, BE VISUAL, BE CREATIVE. Leaflet passer-bys and send the flyers to on-air reporters. We have a right to demand media responsibility.
9. Hold post vigil Forums, Teach-ins and “Speak Outs” so that activists can discuss media issues and plan follow-up actions. There will be a tool-kit for activists posted on MediaChannel.org. Films like WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) on the media coverage and new books like “When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War can be shown and sold. Other anti-war film screenings can be held in community centers campuses or house parties.
Priya Reddy ( Priya (at) Mediachannel.org ) is coordinating this effort, please tell her what you want to do and plan to do, and how we can help. Already, activists from all over the country and the world have written to support the day of media protest and ask how they can help. The answer is simple -- become an organizer and media activist! Plan activities!
We will be posting information about protests and related activities on MediaChannel.org and the United For Peace and Justice website:
Good Night and Good Luck…
This work is in the public domain