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Opinion / Columnist

Journalism needs overhaul

22 Feb 2019 at 09:06hrs | Views
Zimbabwean journalist Haru Mutasa recently drew fire from some local journalists and social media couch potatoes - many of whom masquerade as experts on each and every issue - when she pointed out the toxic effects of corporate media - that is media captured by corporate interests.

Being quite intelligent and astute, she anticipated the salvo and went on to make her point, saying: "Attack me all you want, but as media ask yourselves why countries like Britain, the United States, France, Germany want to push a certain narrative. We are often used, let's change it as media, not be manipulated all the time. One story international media ran with (on Zimbabwe) was fake news, fiction, never happened … as media we need to be careful, politicians from all sides will try to use us."

Well, this observation by Mutasa is not far-fetched because many other journalists with astuteness and integrity from that very West at the centre of distortion have observed the same over the reportage of Venezuela by many sections of the establishment media.

Award-winning American journalist Max Blumenthal recently travelled to Venezuela to report on the ongoing US-backed coup attempt there, and his reporting – along with other alternative news sources – exposes how the establishment corporate Press is downplaying or ignoring important aspects of Venezuala's situation. In particular, Blumenthal detailed how thousands of Venezuelans had queued to sign an open letter, denouncing US-led foreign interference.

Observed Blumenthal: "The Venezuelan opposition and Western corporate media want to frame a portrait of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro and the army against 'the people'. That's absolutely not what I saw today, where thousands were lining up for blocks all day to sign an open letter to Americans denouncing US intervention."

Media Lens – a British media analysis website, whose mission is to draw attention to the "systematic failure of corporate media to report the world honestly and accurately" – observed: "It's not just Maduro – as the Western media are presenting it – who opposes the US aid convoy; it's the United Nations and Red Cross. Why do none of the (Western media) reports note this rather key piece of information …?"

Equally disgusted @MElmaazi wrote: "How does the BBC – with its annual budget of 4 billion pounds – or other outlets such as The Guardian, or Channel 4 – explain their inability to cover this side of the story?" Indeed, the BBC is beyond doubt guilty of lying by gross omission.

The International Red Cross, the Catholic Church's aid organisation Caritas and the UN rejected US requests to help deliver the currently planned "aid" because it is so obviously politicised. "Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
"What is important is that humanitarian aid be depoliticised and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used."

Songwriter, singer and bassist Roger Waters, who fronts acclaimed British progessive rock group Pink Floyd, observed this hypocrisy as much: "(An aid concert for Venezuela being organised by British billionaire Richard Branson) has nothing to do with the needs of the Venezuelan people, it has nothing to do with democracy, it has nothing to do with freedom, and it has nothing to do with aid … (It's solely to do with) the US saying: 'We have decided to take Venezuela for whatever our reasons may be'."

I cannot agree more with Waters after US President Donald Trump brazenly said this week: "The days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and Cuba as well." Waters has seen through this ruse, which has escaped some journalists who, by training and aptitude, are supposed to dig deep and get the story behind the story.

No wonder Adam H Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC), disgusted by this, wrote: "This week we saw unfold one of the most transparently cynical PR stunts to advance US regime change in my adult life, and American media uniformly ate it up."

Indeed, too many reporters are eating up the lies and propaganda they are being fed by the corporate media. While at it, may I ask: Why are the days of communism not similarly numbered in China and even North Korea? That's selective and cowardly bullying!

These individuals and organisations denouncing this gross media malpractice are Westerners, British, Americans, so why should anyone single out Mutasa and label her as having been bought?

Tied to that is this observation by Alan McLeod: "If you are asking yourself 'Why is coverage of Venezual so poor?' – I did a PhD and wrote a book on the topic. What most people don't know is that this is not a mistake. Journalists actively see themselves as the opposition to the government. Journalists see themselves as the ideological troops against the Chavinistas (Maduro supporters) and see it as their number one goal to overthrow the government. They are as important as the military or intelligence community in this regard." Well, does that ring a bell?

@AbbyMartin wrote: "While US media promotes the lie that Maduro shut down all opposition Press, self-declared president Juan Guaido is intimidating independent outlets like Venezuela Analysis for not legitimising the coup. Very disturbing." Rings a bell, doesn't it, as some people are trying to intimidate Mutasa into silence, casting all sorts of aspersions on her including questioning her proven integrity as a journalist.

Queried @mediareformUK: "Can it (one-sided reporting) really be by accident?"

Replied @BusterBKeaton: "They (reporters) are paid not to." Well, this cancer has not spared Mother Africa as pointed out by Prue Clarke in an article titled How foreign aid fuels African media's payola problem (NewsDay, February 14, 2019).

Anyone doubting the credentials of the writer, Clarke is an award-winning journalist, professor and media development specialist. Her mission: "My challenge to aid agencies and donors is to make smart investments in media rather than perpetuating a corrupt business model with brown envelopes and pointless workshops."

Clarke wrote: "In many African countries, a dirty secret of journalism is that reporters earn most of their income from payments by their sources. And the dirtiest secret of all is that the international aid community is among the most prolific payers … a typical journalist in Africa is a professional workshop attendee. Non-governmental organisations from every sector 'train' journalists in their subject matter, often with content conceived in Western capitals by people with no experience in journalism or in the target countries."

Well, you cannot say Mutasa has been paid to point out that "we (journalists) are often used", can you?

As one can see, journalism needs a complete overhaul on a global scale.

Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com

Source - newsday
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