Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Net worth of mainstream media

The internet has brought us a freedom we've never had before. Not only are people from all over the world able to chat real time on anything they like, news now reaches us literally at the speed of light.
It has also given rise to bloggers, and internet journalists. Whereas traditional media costs a great deal to reach the consumer, in the form of production costs, blogs are free. This means that we have citizen reporters who can give first hand accounts of events as they happen on the ground. There are also people who can give their opinions and feelings about events, raise questions and suspicions. And there certainly is a place for that. There are excellent net journalists out there, like Chris Floyd, Gref Palast and William Blum, unfettered by having to kow tow to advertisers they do great indepth research, cite their sources. I love Floyd's turn of phrase and his ferral opposition to all things Bush.
But there is a flipside to internet writers. Blogging has become very popular, fast paced and entertaining. They're great at sharing their opinions, spreading rumours and gossip. The problems happen when people turn to them for news. These are not journalists. They are laymen with scant regard for ethics and even less regard for publishing law. And at the moment they can say and do more or less what they please until someone who knows better finds them out. The veracity of their writing becomes questionable, sometimes deliberately misleading, especially if their blog is of a crusading nature. The sad thing is that readers get sucked into these blogs and believe that the writer is telling the truth. They don't understand the checking processes that need to go on to produce a story. Furthermore the questionable copy is often picked up and reproduced willy nilly by other crusaders of the same ilk. So metaphors or illustrations become "facts" and the truth is lost.
While most mainstream newspapers make a conscious effort to be unbiased, many bloggers cater to specific interests... such as previously mentioned Henry Makow and his anti-feminism rants, Jan Lamprecht and his racists.
Where does that leave the real internet journalists? It knocks their credibility. It leaves their real and important messages open to question, and means their chances of reaching mainstream readers is minimalised. They are consigned to the "tinfoil hat brigade".
Nowhere was this more evident than in the runup to the Iraq war. The mainstream media which are fed by the big news companies, such as Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, along with the regionals Itar TASS, Xinghua and so on. For the most part only local copy is dealt with by reporters working on those newspapers. So a newspaper in Wagga Wagga would have reporters covering stories in Wagga Wagga and take the bulk of its copy from reputable news sources. If those reputable sources don't ask the questions you as a journalist would like answered, there's not much way of getting them.
It takes a special breed of journalist to track down the truth, sift through the mountains of evidence, get the people to talk to them. And it is so easy for them to be marginalised or killed to keep them quiet.
So I really salute men like Floyd, Palast and Blum. And with the cowboys would learn that words carry responsibility.
Hey! What's up with the members only posting comments on your blog? You're the only member!
Anyway, it's nice to see you're back. Someone told me you had rushed off to save horses in Lebanon during the war. Did you go? What was it like?
Hi Anon

I thought I had changed the settings on the blog to allow comments but there's a glitch in the programme and it ended up that only I could post to my own blog.
I did indeed want to get to Lebanon to work with rescued horses, but got pushed from pillar to post by various organisations, many of whom were not going in because it was too dangerous. Eventually got hold of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and their guy had gone in. By the time I had made all the arrangements the darn war was over.
Is this really you?
Arctic Wolf... how to answer that... Is that really YOU?
And what about Korea and Iran
Please can you put up the force feeding piece you did. This is still going on and has fallen off the radar.
Hi Inkonikoni

I've been reading your comments/posts on the southafricasucks blog and you've made reference to some things that i would like to know more about.

First of all, I enjoy the aforementioned blog as much as the next guy but I find that its a pretty pointless exercise as sitting around bitching about a bad situation won't change anything.

In the constant arguments about the ANC/IFP/Zuma/Mbeki political situation tearing SA apart, you have refered to the "bigger picture" in response to some of the comments attacking you.

Please shed some light on the "bigger picture". Do you know something we don't, is it simply deductive reasoning and observation?

THe reason I ask is that I am a very concerned expat SA'can thats debating a return to my beautiful SA.

Obviously the situation is crappy there, but I'm in 2 minds as to wether this situation will hopefully get any better.

So I'm trying to get as many opinions and facts together in order to make that decision.

I'm not asking you to make that for me, all I need is any info to help me make that decision.

Hi Anon

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

First of all, I enjoy the aforementioned blog as much as the next guy but I find that its a pretty pointless exercise as sitting around bitching about a bad situation won't change anything.

I couldn't agree more. Not only that but it's dangerous to expose that kind of face of africa to the rest of the world.

Please shed some light on the "bigger picture". Do you know something we don't, is it simply deductive reasoning and observation?
Sure. Sorry that you're not going to like what I say. Trying to leave any form of "blame" out of this so as not to get bogged down in the racism, okay.
Firstly, the big picture is look at the whole of Africa. There's not much there that gives you hope for a better resolution. Yes, countries like Zambia are pretty peaceful but it's still very third world and it's going to take a good century or so before it gets its act together. I don't know where you're living now, but I wouldn't want to take my family into a place where education and medical care are not up to world standards. By doing that you're condeming them to being second best in a global economy.
Second, South Africa in particular has its own problems. With the way apartheid was set up, black families were torn apart. Dad went to work on the mines, mum went to work in house in the city. Gogo raised the children. Or if they stayed next to the city they would be the equivalent of latchkey kids in a crime riddled filth infested slum. With lack of parental guidance basically we have a generation and a half, at least, of potential criminals. Add into that the violent and brutal struggle, the break in education, and the constant message that when the ANC comes to power they will be able to live like the whites, you can see a recipe for disaster in the making.
The average joe is not getting what he was promised. those who left their schools and became night warriors, gave up their families saw their comrades die, feel they are owed, and they're not being paid. Mandela was able to ask them to be patient because Mandela was an icon, and he had waited 27 years in prison. Mbeki doesn't have that political clout. So when Mandela goes the pressure on the goverment to provide is going to be crushing.
During the previous regime you had 80 per cent of the population's wealth going to look after 20 per cent of the population. Now you have 20 percent of the population trying to raise the standard of the 80 percent left behind.
If you have a look at the GINI, South Africa's is way up around 7.
(Gini is the wealth gap index). It's deemed that a figure of 4 will bring a country to the point of social unrest. Basically SA is a powderkeg. And I believe Mandela's death will be the spark.
The ANC will try to appease the masses by throwing land at them. The same thing that happened in Zim will happen in SA.
The infrastructure was only built to support 20% of the population and is now being used by 100% of the population. Naturally it's crumbling, add to that the rampant corruption in government and complete incompetence and it's a recipe for disaster.
I think there are solutions for those left behind, but they are too intrenched in their old ways to even consider them. One of these would be a kibbutz system of farms, with their own school, clinic, corner shop, the elderly doing the cooking and cleaning, the young working the farm, they could have other businesses happening that don't require them going into the city unless it's in convoy. But it takes vision and comittment to build something like that. And it seems there is not the will at the moment.
The country is beautiful, but you can't really enjoy it anymore. When I went home I stopped off at some of the places I had been as a child and the pervasive feeling of fear was just awful.
I'm interested to know why you want to return.

Hi Susan
I agree that bloggers (me included) are "tinfoil hat brigade" candidates to a large degree.
BUT-the 3rd estate have not exactly been bias free, and advertising pays for papers and sensation sells more papers. So us cynics and conspiracy theorists have for the most part lost that childish trust in the printed word. As a child my dutchie grandmother told me "papier is geduldig" and I for one question the motives behind everything I read (sad heh).---SO WITH SCUMMY POLITICO'S AND MONEYGRUBBING JOURNALISTS on the one side --opposed to idealistic retards on the other,,whats a man to do, whats a man to do?.I feel a song coming on..
Hi Hun

There are some very good net journos out there. I mentioned them in the copy, Greg Palast, William Blum, Chris Flloyd. The mark of a good net journo is that they always site their sources and they don't hide behind their nicks. Also they usually don't resort to foul language and mud slinging to make their points.
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