When the Media Fails the Public

By: Jonathan Simmons

If ever there was a powerful example of the American media failing the public, it must be the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The media  focused, understandably, on the human cost of the attacks in the days immediately following 9/11. But in their myopic focus on the magnitude and cost of  the attacks, the media largely failed to answer the fifth of the four journalistic W’s — they failed to answer the question “why.”

President George W. Bush answered that question for them on his speech on  Sept. 20. “They hate our freedoms,” the president said,”our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble.”

Osama bin Laden’s speeches and writings were widely available on the internet in 2001, and one statement  from 1998, in particular, laid out a clear list of grievances that served as bin Laden’s justification for attacking the U.S. They included the presence of American bases in the Arabian peninsula, the U.S.’s intervention in Iraq, and the U.S.’s support of Israel. Nowhere did bin Laden mention America’s “freedoms” as a rationale for his war against the United States.

But despite overwhelming evidence that the president had misled the nation, the media largely failed to call him on it, preferring instead to let themselves be carried away by the heady, self-righteous zeal that precedes a war, and rally behind the national leader. By the time the U.S. went to war with Iraq in 2003, the American populace still largely had no idea why the U.S had been targeted by bin Laden on 9/11 or, what relation, if any (and the answer was “none”) Iraq had to bin Laden or al-Qaida. The climate of ignorance which pervaded America in the years after 9/11, perpetuated by a news media, made it a simple matter for the country’s leadership to manipulate the public into supporting wars on two countries few Americans could even find on a map.

Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Accurate Answer at an Accurate Time

By Nathaly Duran

The morning of September 11, 2001, the world stopped to watch the live broadcast coverage of the terrorist attack that forever changed history. The emblematic “Big Apple”, New York City, a symbolic icon of the United States’ hegemony, was bitten into pieces, when two hijacked commercial airplanes crashed into The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, tearing down simultaneously both the buildings and an entire country.

On the days that followed the event the American nation needed to fill the blanks, countless questions came along and the country’s mainstream media played their role of persistently answering them like never seen before. It was clear what had happened, how, when and where, but why… It was a question no one seemed to have asked, at least no mainstream journalist seemed to bother answer it.

A strategic answer to this question was given by President George W. Bush, who stated that an act of evil drove terrorist who: “hated our freedoms-our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble” to behave in the very worst evil of human nature, moreover Vice-President Dick Cheney affirmed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. It was later proven that President Bush’s hidden agenda was to go into war at all costs.

Sadly, the media’s failure to further inform the country of the different reasons the accused terrorists may have had to attack the U. S., led to a vast approval of Bush’s plan of going into war. One interesting reason for the lack of intention from the media to answer the question Why is mentioned in the book “Mightier than the Sword” by Rodger Streitmatter, it is that any intention to find a reason for the attack would have been interpreted as “ unpatriotic and an effort to justify the attacks”.

Today, ten years later, there is the slight possibility that many Iraqis, after proving they did not hold any weapons of mass destruction, are asking themselves the same question, Why? Why is the U.S still attacking us, making one wonder where could this unanswered question be leading them?

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Beginning of an End to Corruption in Miami

By Nathaly Duran

According to NBC, last year on April 8, Miguel Exposito, Chief of the Miami Police Department, announced the arrest of eight Miami Dade officials on corruption charges. These are the first arrests made by the newly formed corruption unit in the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division.

Among the officials arrested are police officers Daniel Fernandez, a 16 years veteran; Christian Alvarez-Vega, a 12 years veteran; and David Valentin, an 8 years officer. Alvarez-Vega is facing allegation of stealing $460 using someone’s ATM card information after responding to a car crash and asking for the card as part of the procedure to write a report. While, Fernandez and Valentin are facing charges for using their badges to intimidate people at an apartment complex where they were property managers.

The new unit in the Police Department resulted from Mayor Tomas Regalado promise to end corruption in Miami, “This is the beginning of the end of the culture of corruption in the city of Miami,” Mayor Regalado said. “This is something we promised the people of Miami.”

Source:

NBC Miami. (August 8, 2010). “Three Cops, 5 Others Arrested in Miami Corruption Probe”. Retrieved March 20, 2011 from the NBC website:

http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Chief-to-Announce-Miami-Corruption-Busts-90216077.html

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

60 Minutes Interview with Julian Assange


By Nathaly Duran

From a 600-acre estate in Britain under house arrest, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an exclusive interview to CBS “60 Minutes”, where among many other things he opened up about his ideals and defended his work, discussed his organization’s vulnerability to government shut down, and rumors about an upcoming release of revealing documents of Bank of America.

Throughout the interview Assange took the opportunity to respond to the negative criticism he has received in the past years, one of which is that of being perceived as anti-American, allegation he denied by stating that his actions are supported by the U.S. Constitution, Assange: Not at all. In fact, our founding values are those of the U.S. revolution. They are those of the people like Jefferson and Madison. And we have a number of Americans in our organization. If you’re a whistleblower and you have material that is important, we will accept it, we will defend you and we will publish it. You can’t turn away material simply because it comes from the United States.

Assange also clarified that his organization doesn’t go after anyone in particular; instead, their job is to publish material that is likely to have a significant impact. But what Julian Assange emphasized most was in the ideal of achieving freedom of press, he said that if the U.S. creates threats to small publishers to stop them publishing then the U.S. had lost its way, “throwing the first Amendment in the bin”.

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm  Comments (1)  

What does Journalism and Free Expression Look Like In Mexico?

Dr. Sallie Hughes of the University of Miami lectured journalism students at Florida International University on April 12, in a talk entitled, Journalism and Free Expression In Areas of High Risk with a focus on Mexico. After having worked at a Mexican newspaper, her first hand experience allowed her to make the following observations. After much protest, Mexico’s society has finally moved away from a political system that had controlled the country for 70 years. “Currently,” says Hughes, “the Mexican press faces an almost perfect storm of violence, impunity, corruption and economic concentration that limits the range and accuracy of information available to citizens.” This is because drug cartels have come to play a significant role in the kind of news that is reported.

Often, police officers, for instance, are given money by these cartels to feed certain press releases to the papers; offering a skewed view of current events. Journalism is vastly suppressed due to violence against those working in the media, systematic impunity, public corruption, and unregulated monopolies. Hughes concluded, that foreseeable solutions can include, federalization, emergency protection committees, and newspapers teaming up to investigate. Ultimately, “long term solutions must be linked to political reform to increase accountability.”

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Media solidarity with Bush after 9/11 attacks

by: Ana Milanes

After the 9/11 attacks, the media gave Americans what they thought was needed- a fast answer. Unfortunately, the issue was more complex than the media made it out to be. Those who followed began to believe things which weren’t true; among these people was President George W. Bush.

The media made their accounts highly emotional using phrases like the Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s quote “a horrendous number of lives lost”. There was a lack of appropriate research; many journalists didn’t interview the right people. Perhaps one of the biggest faults however, was the false solidarity that the media tried to build. In order to comfort the American people, the media made a hero of Bush and he had no trouble believing it.

Osama bin Laden was upset with America because of the continued military presence, the United States supporting Israel, and the ending of more than a million Iraqis lives. All in all, there were many misinterpretations among countries when it came to desired outcomes and goals. There was a vicious circular of Bush making assumptions to comfort people, journalists writing about these assumptions and therefore further confirming Bush’s one-sided argument on the foreign country as the enemy.

Source:Streitmatter, Rodger. Mightier than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2008. Print.

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 2:18 am  Leave a Comment  

News Reporting on September 11, 2001

By: Joeli Prieto

On September 11, 2001 America experience a very tragic act of terrorism. Journalists were able to report everything that happened except for why the terrorist attacks occurred. The only one who was able to give the people an answer to this question was President George W. Bush. According to “Mightier than the Sword”, President Bush went on live T.V. and described these terrorist attacks as evil. He positioned America as the good guys and the terrorists as the bad guys. Since the president had taken this approach, many of the mainstream journalists did too. These ideas of the Americans being the good guys and the terrorists being evil circulated trough out the newspapers and televisions studios. Since the White House was able to take control of what the media was saying, it was easy for the president to declare war and have support from the people, since they thought the attacks her coming from an evil place.

While many mainstream journalists were using these same ideas, there were still people wanting to know Osama bin Laden’s side and his real motive for his attacks. Many American’s decided to use the Internet as another source to find out the real reason for the attacks on September 11, but that this point the war had already begun.

Sources:

Streitmatter, Rodger. Mightier Than the Sword. (2008), Retrieved April 12, 2011

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 1:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Violence and Media in Mexico

By: Paige Johnsen

Dr. Hughes delivered a lecture on the violence and media in Mexico to a Global Media and Society class at Florida International University today.  Dr. Hughes gave an in depth historical background of the suppression in Mexico.  She stated,  “The state withdrawals of the economy in the 1980-1990’s were pushed by the idea that a market-based economy would flourish Mexico.” 

This solution backfired.  Dr. Hughes explained that the new market-based economy strengthened an oligopolistic (concentrated) economy of family-owned firms.  Also, it led to increasing budget cuts in education.  Dr. Hughes pointed out that the richest man in the world is, Carlos Slim Helu and family, the chairman and CEO of Mexican telecommunication companies Telemex and America Movil.

Dr. Hughes states, “Mexico entered drug trafficking at a terrible time.”  Police officers were not trained, so the Army stepped in their place. 

Dr. Hughes stated four trends in Mexico’s suppression, “Violence of journalists and media workers, systematic impunity, public corruption overlaps with impunity and violence and unregulated monopolies.”

 Political corruption in Mexico has a major impact in the media because cartels will write press releases and pay police to tell reporters what to write.

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 12:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dreams Come True

In Washington D.C., Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a historically memorable speech at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963. 

King opened his speech by stating, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

The demonstration that King was referring to was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedoms.

He gave the proclaimed, “I Have a Dream” speech to over 200,000 of his supporters for the American Civil Rights Movement.

King correlates the modern life of African Americans to be similar to the life of African Americans 100 years ago.

King stated, “The negro finds himself in exile in his own land.”

King expressed his desire for black men as well and white men to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

King explained that African Americans had been given a “America has given the negro people a bad check.  A check that has come back marked insufficient funds.”

During King’s speech, his supporters reinforce their strong respect and enthusiasm for King with applause.

King stated, “1963 is not an end, but is a beginning for African American civil rights.”

Published in: on April 5, 2011 at 2:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi accused of having sex with an underage prostitute

By: Ana Milanes

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was accused of paying for sex with a minor. The 17-year-old Moroccan girl admitted to being paid by Berlusconi’s accountant Giuseppe Spinelli, but wouldn’t confess what for. There were also accusations of parties at his estate which included her, and other underage prostitutes. In Italy, prostitution is not illegal, only with those under 18.

The teen had a troubled past. She had a history of stealing and was arrested before for the theft of 3,000 Euros. The prime minister, 74, denied any sexual accusations and said other members of government simply wanted him out.

When Ruby was arrested, Berlusconi made a deal with a police officer to release her. When questioned about these actions, he responded that he thought the girl was a relative of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Later, the now 18-year-old was interviewed about her relations with Italy’s prime minister and she said when they met, she lied about her age and her ethnicity. Parliament decided there was no right to search Berlusconi’s property on a 315-298 vote. Berlusconi rejected the plea for his resignation. However, there is talk of political reforms to distribute power onto more people.

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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