Sunday, April 12, 2009

A World-wide problem: Journalism's Propaganda, Lies, Spin and Distortion

We need a reformation in Taiwan's journalism and in the journalism of the world. We also need to educate and equip the readers and watchers of the news to sift what they see and hear with critical and logical eyes and ears. The citizens in today's nations, including the nation of Taiwan, seem very susceptible to manipulation and even brainwashing by the media. Corrupt politicians, parties, regimes and despots, together with ideology-driven power wielders in the media and society seem eager to take advantage.

In Taiwan, in particular the Chinese Nationalist Party with its massive bank accounts and stolen assets from the one-party dictatorship era -- along with the Communist party in China which is being given more and more open doors, open windows and inroads by Taiwan's president Ma and the KMT-controlled legislature -- are in the best position to take advantage of and subvert the media of Taiwan even further than it already is. Taiwan Thinktank chairman Chen Po-chih issued a warning about this threat at a freedom of speech forum in Taipei on April 12, 2009 [more... from A-gu]. Furthermore, the KMT authoritarian era designed the education system to create compliant citizens who could easily be brainwashed and manipulated. Even though that era is behind us, there has not been a drastic reform of the education system.

Now more than ever, it is time for us to encourage our neighbors and friends to get educated and inoculated from this pernicious influence in the media.

Following are a few good quotes from a book, Flat Earth News by Nick Davies:

Everyone reported that "The Earth is flat." until someone bothered to check.

Definition of Flat Earth news: "A story appears to be true. It is widely accepted as true. It becomes a heresy to suggest that it is not true -- even if it is riddled with falsehood, distortion and propaganda." (p. 12)

"... the more I looked, the more I found falsehood, distortion and propaganda running through the outlets of an industry which is supposed to be dedicated to the very opposite, i.e. to telling the truth. The more I searched for an explanation, the more alarmed I became by the scale of the problem and by the complexity of its causes."

"... Over the years which I spent running around with a notebook in my pocket, of course I came to see that frequently we fail to tell the truth. The unavoidable reality of journalism is that all of our work is tethered by a deadline and we can never be free to roam as far as we want in search of the evidence we need..."

"... almost all journalists across the whole developed world now work within a kind of professional cage which distorts their work and crushes their spirit..." (p. 2-3)

"The truth is that there is ideology in journalism. Our stories overwhelmingly tend to cluster around the same narrow set of political and moral assumptions about how the world should be run."

(Flat Earth News © Nick Davies 2008, ISBN 9780701181451)


Here is an editorial from Peter Wilby from the Guardian. He seems to single out the Wall Street Journal which might be considered a more "conservative" less "progressive" newspaper which might reflect his own political preferences. But his comments can be applied to the New York Times or any of the major newspapers and wire services around the world.

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