Lost Media: US Media’s Confused Approach to Protests and Truth

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Public outrage spilling on the streets is treated differently in the American media depending on where the protests take place, with demonstrations seen as ‘democracy’ in Egypt and ‘chaos’ in Britain.  Riots and outrage really have the same face regardless of where on the world map they take place  It could be Europe, the Middle East when people are fed up enough to take their outrage onto the streets, the world should know that it is time to listen to what they have to say.

What we were seeing in Egypt was no different to what we saw in Greece and Italy. What was different is the way the media chose to approach coverage, depending on what country has its streets in chaos.

If you burn a bank in Greece, you are a villain. If you burn the party headquarters in Cairo, you are a hero of democracy.  I was in Greece during the riots, and they were not villains.  They were protesting the mismanagement of government and the unnecessary killing of a teenager.  The protesters ended up being portrayed as villains, when in fact the villains were the police who shot an unarmed teenager.  But that part of the story was never mentioned in the US media.  The riot was reported on and the rest was no longer relevant. As the streets of Egypt blowup into ‘chaos’, the US media portrays it a fight of the disenfranchised masses, and stressing the meed for Mubarak and the Regime to address the complaints of the masses.

Information seems to be a concept that has long been forgotten by the mainstream media. All we seem to get is the opinions or thoughts from people that are far away from the events being reported on.  Democracy as an American brand is what the media is willing to promote.  The US must stay on the winning side.  The United States has a history of funding both sides to make sure that US interests are protected.  The media have become a tool for bad foreign policy.  They should have exposed the inconsistencies in President Obama’s statements and policy.  They remained silent.

Most importantly, they don’t really report.  When they did finally get to fact-finding and reporting, it was only after journalists were being targeted, and then they didn’t really tell the truth.  There is no money in truth.  If it bleeds, it leads.  So a report that a reporter was attached had all the air time in needed.  Then what did those so-called reporters do?  They ran home.

It didn’t use to be that way.  But now ratings and new corporations are more important than following a story of beginning to end.  Getting all the facts, and telling the truth.  Real journalism.

But you could find good reporting and good coverage.  That is if you could get Al-Jazeera.  There coverage and reporting was brilliant.  I know you weren’t watching the channel on tv.  I did.  Dish network on it Free Speech TV channel, ran Al-Jazeera almost 24 hours a day for 18 days.  Of course, you could still watch live broadcasts of Egyptians standing up against Mubarak on standard network channels. You could hear from journalist from CNN and CBS ‘bravely’ report from Tahrir Square.  But to a media, news junkie like me, Al-Jazeera set the standard.  They offered viewers a chance to hear more from Egyptian activists and experts, and less from US politicians, former governmental officials, and pundits.

Like their US counterparts, when their journalists were attacked, beaten, and imprisoned, they continued reporting.  Roaming the streets, getting information, and talking to people.  They did not run.  And to protect their journalists while reporting from the streets, they did not disclose their location or give their name.  They stayed the course, did their jobs, and were the best there is.

It can be argued that Al-Jazeera brought down the Egyptian government.  They kept reporting, showing the truth.  The news got out, the world watched, and Mubarak fled like a thief in the night.  Ironically, US media used to be good at bringing down governments.  Remember Richard Nixon and Watergate?  They told the truth, search it out and told it to the world, and Nixon resigned.  Remember LBJ and the Viet Nam war?  The reporting from the war, the pictures, and the truth and facts were exposed.  LBJ refused to run for office again.

But those days seem to be gone.  Gone are the days when the story and the truth were more important than ratings and money.  Yet, maybe not.  Anderson Cooper finally decided to tell the truth.  I admit it was late, but he said it.  He isn’t stating his opinion, as he has been accused. He told the truth, verifiable facts, and that is real journalism.

It is time for facts, truth and real reporting to return to the media.  We deserve better.  Or you could just watch Al-Jazeera.

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