'Breaking the Silence: War by Media' – John Pilger's address at Columbia University NY

‘It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messangers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it’ – John Pilger —————————————————————– "During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said their spokesman, “that we were astonished to find, after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were, by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don’t have that. What’s the secret? How do you do it?” —————————————————————– What is the secret? It’s a question now urgently asked of those whose job is to keep the record straight: who in this country have extraordinary constitutional freedom. I refer to journalists, of course, a small group who hold privileged sway over the way we think, even the way we use language… —————————————————————– A venerable cliché is that truth is the first casualty in wartime. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. The first American war I reported was Vietnam… —————————————————————– Is Iraq different? Yes, there are many differences, but for journalists there are haunting similarities of both Vietnam and Central America. The "noble cause" of “bringing democracy to the Middle East”, the promotion of a civil war and the killing of tens of thousands of invisible people. On August 24 last year, a New York Times editorial declared: “If we had known then what we know now, the invasion [of Iraq] would have been stopped by a popular outcry.” This amazing admission was saying, in effect, that journalists had betrayed the public by accepting and amplifying and echoing the lies of Bush and Blair, instead of challenging and exposing them. The result is a human disaster of epic proportions, for which journalists in the so-called mainstream bear much of the responsibility; and that includes responsibility for the lives lost and destroyed. —————————————————————– This is true not only in America. In Britain, where I live, the BBC – which promotes itself as a nirvana of objectivity and impartiality and truth – has blood on its corporate hands. There are two interesting studies of the BBC’s reporting. One of them, in the build-up to the invasion, shows that the BBC gave just two per cent of its coverage of Iraq to anti-war dissent. That was less than the anti-war coverage of all the American networks. A second study by the respected journalism school at University College in Cardiff shows that 90 per cent of the BBC’s references to weapons of mass destruction suggested that Saddam Hussein actually possessed them and that, by clear implication, Bush and Blair were right. —————————————————————– We now know that the BBC and other British media were used by MI6, the secret intelligence service. In what they called Operation Mass Appeal, MI6 agents planted stories about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, such as weapons hidden in his palaces and in secret underground bunkers. All of these stories were fakes. However, that is not the point. The point is that the dark arts of MI6 were quite unnecessary, because a systematic media self-censorship produced the same result… —————————————————————– The lies told about Iraq are no different from the lies that ignited the Spanish-American war, that allowed the Vietnam and Korean wars to happen and the Cold War to endure. They are no different from the myths of World War Two that justified the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities. It is as if we journalists are being constantly groomed to swallow the fables of empire. Richard Falk at Princeton has described the process. We are indocrinated to see foreign policy, he wrote, “through a self-righteous, one-way moral/legal screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence.” —————————————————————– In my career as a journalist, there has never been a war on terror but a war of terror. .. —————————————————————– What should journalists do? I mean, journalists who give a damn? They need to act now. Governments fear good journalists. The reason the Pentagon spends millions of dollars on PR, or “perception management” companies that try to bend the news is because it fears truth tellers, just as Stalinist governments feared them. There is no difference. Look back at the great American journalists: Upton Sinclair, Edward R Murrow, Martha Gellhorn, I. F.Stone, Seymour Hersh. All were mavericks. None embraced the corporate world of journalism and its modern supplier: the media college. —————————————————————- It is said the internet is an alternative; and what is wonderful about the rebellious spirits on the World Wide Web is that they often report as journalists should. They are mavericks in the tradition of the great muckrakers: those like the Irish journalist Claud Cockburn, who said: "Never believe anything until it is officially denied." But the internet is still a kind of samidzat, an underground, and most of humanity does not log on; just as most of humanity does not own a cell phone. And the right to know ought to be universal. That other great muckraker, Tom Paine, warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the "Bastille of words". That time is now." ‘Breaking the Silence: War by Media’ – John Pilger’s address at Columbia University (April 2006) VIDEO:A hard hitting special report into the "war on terror" by John Pilger


3 thoughts on “'Breaking the Silence: War by Media' – John Pilger's address at Columbia University NY

  1. In 1997, an organization then administered by PEJ, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, began a national conversation among citizens and news people to identify and clarify the principles that underlie journalism. After four years of research, including 20 public forums around the country, a reading of journalism history, a national survey of journalists, and more, the group released a Statement of Shared Purpose that identified nine principles. These became the basis for The Elements of Journalism, the book by PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel and CCJ Chairman and PEJ Senior Counselor Bill Kovach. Here are those principles, as outlined in the original Statement of Shared Purpose.http://www.journalism.org/resources/principlesThe Project for Excellence in Journalism is a research organization that specializes in using empirical methods to evaluate and study the performance of the press. It is non partisan, non ideological and non political.
    Our goal is to help both the journalists who produce the news and the citizens who consume it develop a better understanding of what the press is delivering. The Project has put special emphasis on content analysis in the belief that quantifying what is occurring in the press, rather than merely offering criticism and analysis, is a better approach to understanding.
    For its first nine years, the Project was affiliated with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and had a twin mission of evaluating the press and helping journalists clarify their professional principles. The first task, press evaluation, was carried out through PEJ’s empirical research. The second task, clarifying principles, fell to a group the Project ran, the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ)…

  2. LONDON: British Prime Minister Tony Blair, once known for his slick and sometimes obsessive media management, took a swipe on Tuesday at the nation’s journalists just two weeks before he leaves office.
    Blair, who steps down on June 27, accused the media of sensationalising facts, breeding cynicism and attacking public figures, in a speech he predicted some would ‘rubbish’.
    He said he was not blaming the media for the ‘damaged’ relationship with politicians, pointing the finger instead at the changing nature of the modern news business.
    ‘The fear of missing out means that today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits,’ he said in a speech at Reuters headquarters in London.
    Journalists are ‘increasingly and to a dangerous degree … driven by ‘impact’,’ and this is driving down standards, doing a disservice to the public and reducing politicians’ ability to take the right decisions, Blair said..
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=60335To Reuters news agency, a metallic, minimalist office block in the Americanised east of London, to hear Tony Blair attack the media. Quite right, too.
    We have behaved inexcusably these ten years of beatific Blairism.
    I mean it. We have been far too soft on this war-faring, dossier-spinning, image-bending egomaniac.
    Mr Blair said he had hesitated before making the speech. "I know it will be rubbished in certain quarters but I also know this has needed to be said," he told us, pursing his lips in an aw-shucks way.
    If he had really been brave he would have made this speech ten or five years ago.
    Mr Blair argued that the media are often hysterical and that their (that is, our) scurvy attitude to politicians and other prominent people is wrecking British public life.
    He suggested that newspapers should be forced to report news objectively. He also noted that few outlets now report Parliament in detail.
    This from a PM who has, himself, seldom attended parliamentary debates and did not even hang around for 30 seconds to hear the start of Monday’s big debate on Iraq…

  3. John Pilger heeft zich altijd fel verzet tegen de oorlogsplannen van Bush&Blair. Hij plaatst journalistieke objectiviteit tegenover het moralistische verlangen van machtgebonden kleinburgers (fake-journalisten) de zaak van ‘het goede’ te dienen.
    Arie Elshout van de Volkskrant is een fake-journalist. Pieter Broertjes gaat ook aardig die richting uit. Een zeer zwakke figuur die geen ruggengraat bezit. Niet bepaald iemand waarin je als nuchter mens ‘een hoofdredacteur’ ziet.
    Leuk om eens iemand te ontmoeten hier die de gehate naam JOHN PILGER durft te noemen…http://www.johnpilger.com/Reactie is geredigeerd

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