Propaganda and War

Media situation in Venezuela: facts and fiction

Caitlin McNulty and Liz Migliorelli, Upside Down World

When Hugo Chávez won the Venezuelan Presidential election in 1998, he immediately implemented one of his primary campaign platforms, the rewriting of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1961. This new constitution included a broader scope of social, economic, cultural, political and civil rights. A popular referendum was held to elect qualified citizens to make up a Constituent Assembly whose job was to draft the new constitution. This constitution was truly written for the people and by the people.

One of the articles in the constitution required the restructuring of the Venezuelan oil industry in order to provide a more equal distribution of resources and wealth to the Venezuelan people. For the economic and political groups who traditionally held power and who had benefited greatly from this oil profit, this shift in structure and fortune was not at all welcome.

Since then, this large block of private media (whose ownership belongs to the most powerful businessmen and corporations) has worked toward removing Chávez from power and slowing the revolutionary process.1 Since Chávez won the presidential election and the traditional political parties Acción Democratica and COPEI lost power, the news media has become the greatest weapon of the opposition in a war against the Chávez administration.

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Sinclair Broadcasting may be headed to bankruptcy

Price Colman, TVNewsday

RTM note: Sinclair Broadcasting is the largest owner of TV stations in the US. In 2004, the company was broadly criticized after Sinclair management ordered its eight ABC affiliates not to air an episode of Nightline on the Iraq war, saying that "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

Sinclair Broadcast Group spelled out Tuesday just how close it is to bankruptcy.

It faces debt covenant violations, sagging revenues and cash flow that may make it impossible to service that debt, and what could be contentious negotiations with ABC over its affiliation agreement, which expires at year end.

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Iran now "world's biggest prison" for journalists

Reporters Without Borders

The Islamic Republic of Iran now ranks alongside China as the world’s biggest prison for journalists. The crackdown has been intensified yet again following Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s endorsement of the result of the 12 June presidential election and the opposition’s decision to call another demonstration on 20 June.

Iran now has a total of 33 journalists and cyber-dissidents in its jails, while journalists who could not be located at their homes have been summoned by telephone by Tehran prosecutor general Said Mortazavi.

“The force of the demonstrations in Tehran is increasing fears that more Iranian journalists could be arrested and more foreign journalists could be expelled,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The regime has been visibly shaken by its own population and does not want to let this perception endure. That is why the media have become a priority target.”

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Inspector repudiates earlier report exonerating Pentagon propaganda operation

David Barstow, New York Times

In a highly unusual reversal, the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office has withdrawn a report it issued in January exonerating a Pentagon public relations program that made extensive use of retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks.

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Three key rules of media behavior shape their discussions of "the 'torture' debate"

Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Karl Rove on torture prosecutions:

It is now clear that the Obama White House didn't think before it tried to appease the hard left of the Democratic Party.

Gloria Borger on Karl Rove:

When Rove speaks, the political class pays attention -- usually with good reason.

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Reporter's equipment confiscated at veterans event

Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press, Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press

A Washington D.C.-based radio reporter says his audio storage device was inappropriately confiscated Tuesday by Veterans Affairs officials after he interviewed a patient at a VA Medical Center forum.

VA officials claim they intervened after the reporter "took advantage" of the patient, who was undergoing medical treatment.

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Afghan student journalist facing 20 years in prison

Jerome Starkey, The Independent (UK)

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country's highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.

The 23-year-old, brought to worldwide attention after an Independent campaign, was praying that Afghanistan's top judges would quash his conviction for lack of evidence, or because he was tried in secret and convicted without a defence lawyer. Instead, almost 18 months after he was arrested for allegedly circulating an article about women's rights, any hope of justice and due process evaporated amid gross irregularities, allegations of corruption and coercion at the Supreme Court. Justices issued their decision in secret, without letting Mr Kambaksh's lawyer submit so much as a word in his defence.

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Pentagon OKs media photos of war dead

Pauline Jelinek and Anne Gearan, AP

News organizations will be allowed to photograph the homecomings of America's war dead under a new Pentagon policy, defense and congressional officials said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to allow photos of flag-draped caskets at Dover Air Force Base, Del., if the families of the fallen troops agree, the officials told The Associated Press.

Gates planned to announce his decision later Thursday, they said. The current ban was put in place in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.

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Obama may lift media ban on military coffin photos

Washington Post

Every week, Air Force cargo jets land and taxi down the runway at Dover Air Force Base, Del., carrying the remains of fallen U.S. troops. After a chaplain says a simple prayer, an eight-member military honor guard removes the metal "transfer cases" from the planes and carries them to a mortuary van.

The flag-draped coffins are a testament to the toll of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as of the sacrifice borne by those who serve in the military and their families. But this ceremony, known as the "dignified transfer of remains" and performed nearly 5,000 times since the start of the wars, is hidden from public view by the Pentagon.

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Government to study how people get info through social media

Doug Beizer, Federal Computer Week

The General Services Administration wants to know if people want to receive information about the federal government via online services such as Facebook and YouTube, according to a GSA announcement on

GSA plans to conduct a series of online market research surveys to learn what people’s opinions and preferences are regarding government programs and services, according to the solicitation made Feb. 9.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey