Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Rules of Modern Journalism, by Gwynne Dyer

"If you like being treated like an idiot child by your
leaders and your media,
you're living at the right time."

I've been re-reading some books covering the events since 9/11 and lately I've been going through Gwynne Dyer's, With Every Mistake. In it he writes of the new media rules on how to cover terrorism:

Rule One: When covering terrorist attacks, do not discuss the political context of the attacks or the terrorists' motives and strategy. Two generations of comic books and cartoons have accustomed the general audience to villains who are evil just for the sake of being evil, so calling the terrorists "evil-doers" will suffice as an explanation for most people.

Rule Two: All terrorist actions are part of the same problem. Therefore you can treat this month's bomb in a Bali night club, the sniper attacks in Washington and the hostage-taking in a Moscow theatre as all related to each other in some (unspecified) way, and write scare-mongering think pieces about the "October Crisis."

Rule Three: All terrorists are Islamist fanatics. On some occasions - as when Basque terrorists blow somebody up - it will be necessary to relax this rule slightly, but at the very least any terrorists with Muslim names should be treated as Islamist fanatics.

...most of the Western media know them by heart. Consider, for example, the terrorist seizure of the theatre in Moscow last week that ended with the death of about fifty Chechen hostake-takers and a hundred hostages. Two years ago, the mdia coverage of these events, even in Russia itself, would have given us a lot of background on why some Chechens have turned to such savage methods. Didn't see much of that last week, did we?

Nothing about the long guerilla struggle Chechens waged against Russian imperial conquest one hundred and fifty years ago. Nothing about the fact that Stalin deported the entire Chechen nation to Central Asia (where about half of them died) during the Second World War. Nothing about the fact that Chechnya declared Independence peacefully in 1991 and that both the Chechen-Russian wars, in 1994 and 1999, began with a Russian attack.

Never mind all that now. The Chechen men and women who seized the theatre have Muslim names, so they must be part of the worldwide network of Islamist fanatics who are driven by blind hatred to commit senseless massacres (or so it says in the script here).

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