Thursday, April 18, 2013

Keep checking those facts, New Yorker

“How do you write 11,000 words on a political figure without knowing how they got to their position? It's like writing a long profile on Gerald Ford that refers to that time when he was elected president.” – Jim Naureckas
I’ve tended to swing between two psychological responses to mainstream US journalists’ coverage of Latin American – and especially Venezuelan and Bolivian - politics. On the one hand, I know that it’s full of untruths, half-truths, and unquestioned ideological spin, so I tend to try to ignore it or address it only to call attention to the misrepresentations. I tell myself that I’ve accepted that this is the situation and that there’s little or nothing I can do to change these journalists’ or their outlets’ actions – I can only contribute to public knowledge of the problem and try to share and provide alternative sources for more accurate information. But at the same time, I recognize that I haven’t fully accepted it, and that my periodic calls for retractions, corrections, and apologies reveal disappointed expectations and a resilient optimism about the possibilities for change; maybe if they just saw more clearly how they're being used as the instruments of corporations and governments…

That internal struggle informed my response to this FAIR article about Jon Lee Anderson’s recent coverage of Venezuela in the New Yorker (not to mention the linked articles by Keane Bhatt at Manufacturing Contempt). Part of me says, “Well, that’s nothing new. You expect it from them. You know they’re not going to change.” And then another part replies, “But they’re supposed to be professional journalists! They pride themselves on their work! And people are influenced by them! They have to do better!”

And on it goes.

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