Monday, March 24, 2003

Iraq and USA in the Media
From bloggers I read and emails received I have come to realise that there are protests inside the United States against the war in Iraq. As I have mentioned already, this is hardly ever mentioned in the Norwegian media. Concerned with this, I asked my colleague, journalist and teacher at the television documentary education here at the college, if there are ways to find out where the information on USA stops.

Today, the news-tree is no longer the simple structure of stringers, journalists, foreign offices, main international news-agency, national agencies and newpapers/television/radio. The net has done us the service of dissolving the power of several of the gate-keepers in the old structure. On the other hand it has become a lot less obvious where the information stops. Are the american news-media writing about the local protests? I find a few references to anti-war rallies in for instance USA today, and New York Times has an article on international anti-war rallies where the source is Associated Press. A quick peek at AP newspapers around the US, random samples from as diverse areas as Montana and Texas, Oregon and Georgia, comes up with exactly the same headlines and the same picture at the front page of their internet version, and all of them are concerned with the same topics as the Norwegian media coverage.

A Norwegian free-lance journalist has started a blogg-like site devoted to media criticism, inspired by the way journalists and media were controlled during "Desert Storm": mediekritikk by Henning A. Hellebust. It's written in Norwegian, but it's basically a criticism of the coverage of the war centered on the situation in Iraq. My concern today is not so much what we actually learn from Iraq, but what we do not learn about the rest of the world while all media attention is on Iraq. One example is, as I have already mentioned, what happens inside USA while they wage war abroad? The war will end, but the internal shifts of power in USA may have far more influence on the future Norwegian politics and also economics. What happens in Afghanistan? Angola? Palestine and Israel? We get no other news at present but endless special broadcasts from Iraq and from the camps of the Americans and their allies.

What I want to know is whether this is because Norwegian editors are doing a lousy job at choosing material for us, or if the obsession with information - any information - about bloodshed and horror and the potential thereof is better than all the rest of the news generated in the world during the last week.

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