Showing posts tagged "protest."
Why won’t the mainstream media cover the #OccupyWallStreet Protests?
Every time a breaking news event happens on the weekends, such as the mass uprisings in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, the fall of Tripoli to the rebel army, and today’s protests in New York, people tune in to CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or even their local news station hoping to see live coverage. They want video, so they know what it looks like. They want the correspondents on the ground to give them the latest facts. And they want the pundits to help them put it all into context.
And every time they tune in, they get…none of this. Instead they find some stupid show about police chases or an infomercial or maybe just re-runs (!!!) of last night’s news.
And this makes us very, very angry. That in turn leads to some interesting phenomenon, such as this tweet from @USDayofRage. Some of have convinced themselves that there is an elaborate media conspiracy to “blackout” coverage of the Wall Street protests. See this:
A media blackout would make sense to an extent, in terms of the authorities’ attempts to ensure that people don’t see the crowd and decide to join in. But it would also be an acknowledgement of media complicity in the silencing of what promises ot be a peaceful protest.
For one thing, the media doesn’t work for the authorities. In fact, the authorities hate the media. They hate the cameras, microphones, and notepads used to illuminate their activities to the public and hold them accountable. And they often specifically target anyone wielding these tools.
But the most important misconception is that there is some kind of media complicity with the authorities to not cover the weekend protests. This is false. The news is a business, and in the United States, that business model is entirely market driven. The mainstream media doesn’t cover breaking news on weekends because nobody watches the mainstream media on weekends. It’s really that simple.
Because you didn’t watch the news last Saturday, or the Saturday before that, or the Saturday before that, there will be no news broadcast this Saturday. The markets, you, have spoken. You don’t care about the news on weekends.
Except, of course, when you do. And then you get infomercials and re-runs. What do you do about this?
1) Support your mainstream media. Tune in every single weekend, whether or not there’s breaking news to follow. Watch the commercials, buy the products, click on the links, participate in the wholly unscientific text messaging polls, download the smartphone app, sign up for the premium account, everything that it takes to support these massive multi-million dollar businesses. Make it worth their time to have makeup artists, camera crews, audio technicians, IT departments, anchors, reporters, pundits, graphic artists, editors, producers, and a phalanx of interns ready and standing by for whatever issue strikes your fancy this week, whether it’s the fall of Tripoli or populist demonstrations on Wall Street.
2) Support your local independent/citizen journalist. They don’t rely on the same overhead and infrastructure as the mainstream media, making them far more flexible and immediate. Their tools are cellphones, laptops, and digital cameras, not studios, green screens, and satellite vans. They work in natural disasters, protests, and war zones, and most importantly, they work weekends. But they need your help. Click that donate button, buy that t-shirt from their CafePress, support their Kickstarter project. They don’t work for corporations, they work directly for you.
3) Support good media policy. As a citizen, paying attention to the politics and policy of the media and journalism can often be as important as paying attention to the news itself. Josh Sterns writes:
Media ownership, public broadcasting, telecom policy – the government is already deeply engaged in shaping our media in ways that impact the future of journalism. It’s not a matter of if government should be involved, but how. And we’ll end up with the best results if journalists, journalism schools, and the public are part of that debate, not on the sidelines.
If you want good media, quality journalism, and real, immediate coverage of breaking news events that matter most to you, then your participation is required. You can’t wait until news happens to you to start caring about the news.
Via Musings on Iraq, we see that the Arab Spring, widespread uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, continue in Iraq.
On September 9, 2011, protests occurred throughout Iraq for the first time in over six months. There were events in ten cities across nine of Iraq’s eighteen provinces, including Baghdad, Qadisiyah, Babil, Basra, Diyala, Anbar, Muthanna, Maysan, and Najaf. It was called “Friday of Denouncement of Bad Services and Suppression of Freedoms.” Demonstrations started in the country back at the end of January, but tapered off in the face of a concerted effort by the government to break them up. Since then, protests have continued, but they have been very small. Activists were finally able to organize nation wide assemblies calling for the government to reform, but it’s unclear whether they will have any long-term impact.
The problem for the activists is that they have not been able to sustain their effort. At first, they held assemblies every week for two months. Then the authorities cracked down on them, while offering reforms, and the crowds largely disappeared. There are still protests every Friday in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, but they are very small. Without constant effort they will not have any power to pressure the government. That added with the fact that the Prime Minister Maliki has shown no willingness to do anything but make empty promises means that September 9’s events will likely have no long-term affect. The politicians are largely immune to public pressure anyway, and are caught up in their own petty arguments rather than concerned about the public’s needs. The elite know that there are all kinds of shortages and major problems affecting the country, but either do nothing or lack the authority to enact any real change. That’s the sad reality of present day Iraq. Only massive and sustained demonstrations by the public could break this status quo, but organizers have not been able to make that a reality so far. The demonstrations, and their lack of affect have thus exposed the limits of Iraq’s democracy.
The question to ask here is why the protests have been heretofore unsustainable.
Is it an indication of the hierarchal nature of Iraqi politics, in that each bloc or constituency can be manipulated into protesting - or acquiescence? Or is it a lack of communication and media coverage available to both protesters and Iraqi citizens? Put simply, is the coverage of these protests reaching the intended audience, and is there even enough coverage to begin with?
The fact that when we think of the Arab Spring, Iraq doesn’t immediately come to mind, should tell us something about the perception of the Iraqi demonstrations, at least as far as the international audience is concerned.