The Mediascape: A Guided Tour
EDITORIAL, 10 October 2016
#450 | Johan Galtung
Reading and hearing use written and oral language; viewing can be with no words of any kind, “don’t tell’em, show’em”. “Local” means for and by a local community. “National” means exactly that, not “state” or “social”, but for and by that nation, that language. Thus, quadri-lingual Switzerland has four national media; USA has many.
And then “global” for and by the whole world: for verbal media mainly English, making TV communication potentially more global. Well knowing that received and sent messages may differ widely.
The focus is on to what extent media make the world transparent. Do words and images facilitate DPT for diagnosis, prognosis, therapy, also known as analysis, forecasting and remedies? They do and do not.
Let us start this guided tour with TV. Up comes CNN, as stated at the launching in 1990 to communicate the US State Department view of the world; in itself useful. CNN is world-encompassing: if something happens somewhere, the US elite’s view will sooner or later come up. Right now Russia-and Putin-bashing are staples, and the US election.
That brings us to Russia Today, which is not about Russia (except to debunk doping allegations) but USA and USA in the world. They had recently a superb documentary about FARC and doctors to local villages in Colombia, not surprisingly with an anti-USA touch.
A strange division of labor; but the two together make some sense. Neither of them is good at giving the screen to all parties; they both prefer to tell the viewers what others stand for.
For that approach turn to CCTV, the Chinese very global channel. They have windows for many parties–like Al Jazeera used to do, now coming back–except for their inside parties; like CNN and Russia Today.
Three big states in the world all fail in not making themselves transparent. The others fill in some gaps. However, major TV channels are governmental and tend to present what they want to be seen.
The word “propaganda” comes up: a correctly issued certificate.
We turn to Europe with no EU channel worth mentioning. BBC World? Covers its own country better than the other three, and the world. But with all its sense of detail, a little boring? And as Western in its discourse as the CNN, only a little more subtle. The word “terrorism” is used without any effort to explore why; like in Sky News. That name is actually adequate: the channel has a full DPT coverage of weather.
The Spanish, French, German? The Spanish TVE and 24 Horas are mainly about Spain’s lack of government; like French TV5 mainly about France. But France 24 hours-in English-is very adequate as global TV.
Best are the Germans: Arte on culture, ZDF on Germany, the world. Documentaries about WWI cease-fire; German soldiers trying to become prisoners and WWII capitulation, Nuremberg tribunal with thousands of Germans, like smiling Göring committing suicide, are unforgettable. And Deutsche Welle.
The print media are outcompeted by TV and the Internet. They cannot afford their own envoys and, absorbed by consortia, most of them losing their character. That the US consortia include arms industry makes peace news bad news. And yet there is New York Times with its pro-Israel/US discourse, eulogizing Shimon Peres, yet printing Hanan Ashrawi “The Peacemaker who wasn’t” (3 Oct). NYT news “fit to print” are loaded with opinion, but the Opinion pp 6-7 often offer news. The news are skimpy not even one-liners and the articles lengthy like in good magazines, Der Spiegel, The Economist, Le Nouvel Observateur and two US favorites: The Nation and The New York Review of Books.
But some newspapers still fight for their integrity and survive: The Guardian, Le Monde, Frankfurter Rundschau.
And a Norwegian: Klassekampen (The Class Struggle, the “paper for the Left”) which discovered that readers today are well educated so why not also media–and unlike all others its readership increases. They have 2 pagers on the Middle Ages, Book, Music magazines, facts inconvenient for USA-Russia-China; recently leaning more mainstream. KK proves that the impossible is possible, could be imitated all over.
Radio survives, the FM locals, cheap to operate, excellent for local dialogues. But like most media marred by incessant commercials that could easily be given their own channels, frequencies, papers.
Internet is still the space of freedom in the media-scape, for good and bad. Excellent sites include firstname.lastname@example.org, an outcome of Inter Press Service in Rome; LEAP email@example.com that offers usually very adequate predictions; William Blum’s The Anti-Empire Report, now #145, williamblum.org; Zunes@usfca.edu, now at #201; www.truthout.org. And the U-tube is a goldmine, to be mined.
How about non-West? The Hindu is fine, so is Japan Times (but not easily duped Asahi Shimbun and very conservative Yomiuri Shimbun). NHK World TV seems to prefer anything to politics. For the Arab World see the Egyptian Al Ahram, also good for Africa, and for Latin America the Argentinean El Clarín–both also in English and on the Internet.
A subjective media-scape menu:
- TV: CNN for an overview and US elite views, Russia Today for the USA, CCTV and Al Jazeera for both and for the world, France 24 hours, and ZDF for the German-speaking.
- Print media: The Guardian for news and transparency, New York Times for overview and good essays, as Nation and New York Review of Books.
- But most time might profitably be spent on the Internet as long as it lasts; a governmental coup in favor of their TV propaganda is feared.
Very badly needed is a peace channel also with news, unlike Transcend’s TMS-TRANSCEND Media Service website mainly with commentary. Adding to the past empirical news and olds, more or less factual, the future, for prognosis (now only for weather) and therapy (not even for weather).
Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. Prof. Galtung has published 1669 articles and book chapters, over 400 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and 167 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 October 2016.
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