Monday, May 16, 2011

Distance between Governments and the Press

With all the unrest happening in the Middle East, I have been reading many news articles. What consistently strikes me is the disconnect between the press and the official view of their government. For example, the New York Times has an article about Netanyahu coming to the US soon where he will outline his policies. In the article it says that Netanyahu will not negotiate with the Palestinians when Hamas is included in the government (and does so in a way that makes him seem obstinate). But this is not news, especially as the U.S. goverment also considers Hamas to be a terrorist group. So if the American government treats them as terrorists, then why does the Times have to report this as news, or treat Hamas as if it is only a terrorist group according to the US government. What I am trying to say is that while newspapers should definitely question their government, shouldn't there be some overlap between the press and their government in terms of foreign policy?
If not, then why?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is the media blowing US-Pakistan relations out of proportion?

          In the uproar surrounding Osama bin Laden's death, I have been noticing a lot of media reports proclaiming that the US and Pakistan are experiencing a crisis in their relations and are drifting away from one another.

         One Reuters report, that I read in JPost, announces about the raid itself that "The CIA ruled out working with Pakistan on the raid because 'it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission: They might alert the targets,' Panetta said." Leon Panetta is the chief of the CIA.

          Another article, this one in Time Magazine, has a headline of :

Finding Bin Laden Raises Questions About Pakistan's Complicity

           The New York Times has an article where American officials are quoted as saying:
"American officials stopped well short of accusing Pakistan of sheltering Bin Laden, but they strongly indicated that they would want answers about the extent of the network in Pakistan that allowed Bin Laden to live and hide in apparent comfort for so long. "

           All in all, the media paints Pakistan as an untrustworthy ally..but my question is, how much of this is speculation and how much is fact?
           I think that when it comes to international relations, media speculation does not help anyone. We do not know what is happening behind closed doors. By the media announcing theories as facts, they are providing a disservice to citizens. Maybe Pakistan was hiding Bin Laden, maybe not. But for the media, which needs attention grabbing headlines to generate business, speculation is an easy way to grab readers and reminds us that one should always try to look at the media's stories with a grain of salt

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bloggers as.....Slaves?

Seems like in the new age of bloggers being used as an important tool of politics, some thorny questions of digital rights are coming up. Check this story out:

The Huffington Post is being sued by bloggers for lack of compensation to the bloggers for the services that they were contracted to do by the Post. The suit is being led by Jonthan Tasini, a labor lawyer who had these kind words to say "“The Huffington bloggers have essentially been turned into modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffington’s plantation”.

The question that is really raised here, however, is what rights do bloggers have? Are they considered workers in the same sense of a traditional 9-5 job? Are they writers or authors like James Patterson or JK Rowling? I think that these questions, and this lawsuit, have the potential to become a really big deal because the blogging world is only going to proliferate and these questions must be dealt with.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Goldstone and the UN

             In a stunning Washington Post article, Richard Goldstone, the UN chief of investigating Israel and Hamas's conduct during the 2008 war, completely retracts his previous report, where he claimed Israel deliberately targeted civilians ( . In response, Israel and various Jewish organizations are pressing the UN to rescind the report. After all, if the author himself disagrees with the conclusions, then why should such a report stand?
        Now lets be honest here. We all know that the UN Human Rights Council is full of inveterate Israel haters. They are not going to invalidate any literature that supports their doctrine of evil Israelis killing Palestinian babies. If Israel did not target civilians and they admit it, then all their holier-than-thou announcements hold no water and they know so. BUT what is interesting to me as a student in Media and Politics is how the media portrays the U.N.
                  For the most part, the media portrays the UN as a respectable international institution. But, it has not been like that for many years- and not just in its treatment of Israel. Why is it when that something/someone gives off an air of legitimacy, the media respects it? The media can be scathing sometimes, for example local US media can be very incisive against the U.S. government. Why should the UN get off easy? The media should treat the UN like any other organization and bring its failings to light.

And unrelated, but an interesting idea of how organizations should use terms in their public relations dealings is this blog:
I think her idea is really interesting. If Jewish organizations started calling the BDS movement anti-Semitic, would people take them more seriously?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Youtube as a Venue to Talk to World Leaders

Last class we were discussing the ways a presidental hopeful would run a campaign, and how he/she would have to incorporate new media. On that note, I thought that this was really cool. It seems Youtube runs interviews with world leaders where average citizens from around the globe submit video questions and then the world leaders respond with their own video response in a interview style. Here is the link to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's interview:

I wonder if this will herald a new time where average citizens have more up close and personal exposure to their leaders, or the status quo remains the same? Either way, I think this was a really cool idea as more and more people go to the internet for news and entertainment programs like this will keep politics on the minds of average citizens.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One man's "strike" is another nation's terrorist tragedy

Delving into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when it comes to media is dangerous. Both sides claim that the media is biased towards it. I personally hold very strong pro-Israel views, but I admit that there is truth to both sides of the argument. However, I will say that recently, the media has gone on a complete whitewash of Palestinian terrorism.
When the brutal attack and murder of the Fogel family was being reported by CNN, they put the words terrorist attack in quotation marks. Lets call a spade a spade here. Knifing a family while they sleep is a pretty clear terrorist act.
But it gets even better. Today, a bus in Jerusalem was attacked by terrorists. Guess what the wonderful staff at Yahoo News had to say:  "Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike". 
Honestly. When does blowing up a bus full of civilians constitute a "strike"? How can the media in any way seem to suggest that there is moral equivalence between terrorists and the Israeli army. Its sickening

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Putting Words in Palin's Mouth

Now I am no big fan of Sarah Palin. But it is very interesting to see how the media frames her actions. Today, Palin is in Israel on a completely private trip. (She will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however). She released a statement that said: "“I’m thankful to be able to travel to Israel on my way back to the US,” Palin said. “As the world confronts sweeping changes and new realities, I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the key issues facing his country, our ally Israel.”"

Its a fairly generic statement for a Republican politician, and seemingly that should have been the end of it. But every single story I read about it barely focused on her visit, but rather on her potential presidential campaign. The tack they all take is about her lack of foreign policy expertise and how her current trips abroad are meant to boost her image and standing to make a presidential run. As the JPost staff had to mention: 

"Palin will be coming at a time when her poll numbers in the US are on a steep decline. A Bloomberg National Poll conducted from March 4-7 found that 60 percent of the US public has either a “mostly unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of her.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday found that her numbers among Republican and Republicanleaning voters have dropped considerably."

This phenomenon of media framing, where they not only show the news but tell readers how to think about the news, is a very important theme in media and politics. One should always look at the stories one reads and see what frame the story is being presented in to see if there is a inherent bias in the story.