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Study uncovers US media blackout: China Youth Daily
( 2002-08-28 14:54 ) (10 )

Quantitative study into US media's coverage of America's use of depleted uranium bombs reveals that news blackouts by mainstream media on certain issues bearing on America's own national interests not only exist indisputably but have been implemented to a rigid extent.

Enforced "silence" over international news

Being a "liberal and diversified" Western country, the US has been stressing on the nature of news coverage as being "fair", "objective" and "diversified". However, as things are with every Western modern commercial society soaked in political and commercial interests, these beautiful slogans just represent no more than liberal ideals that can by no means be realized. In spite of all their boasting about "freedom of speech" there is no denial in these commercial societies that the spreading of public opinion is directly backed by money, the more money you have got the more influential your paper will be. If you only hawk your ideas to passers-by on a soapbox in London's Hyde Park or New York's Central Park, you would get nowhere expect being regarded as a lunatic.

The last past two decades have seen a three- to four-fold increase of expense canvassing for US presidency mainly for purchasing political advertisements on television and other media. A cold fact is that the mainstream media of Western countries, especially the US, relying on their huge property and other resources, take in hand the power of "setting news subjects". That is, through adoption and omission of news resources and contents, to "guide" or divert public attention on certain issues, and block public knowledge and concern over other issues through so-called "structural news tightening".

For a vying institutional setup and a rivalry of interests and partisanship between different political entities, groups and individuals the US authorities must be in a difficult position to block or hush up news for long, which give the rest of the world an impression of "freedom of news coverage".

But the case is totally different when it comes to international news and diplomatic policies. Because of special geographical and historical reasons, especially longtime "isolationism", the US general public generally suffers from a dearth of knowledge and interests in international issues.

Under such circumstances there appeared an astonishing "harmony" between attitudes of mainstream media towards foreign issues and that of the US government towards diplomatic policies and so-called "national interests". As a Western saying goes, "Speech is silver, silence is gold". The "omission" policy on certain news topics turned out smarter than continuous babble.

News on China left out purposely

Since Cold War began China-related news have been sacrificed under the "omission" policy. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had long been involved in splitting activities by former Tibetan Dalai Lama government, which were not at all conducted "in "peaceful" ways as described by Western media but bloody onslaughts and under great secrecy.

A case in point was that November 1961 New York Times journalists managed to learn that CIA were secretly training Tibetan "free soldiers" in Colorado. But the office of national defense minister under Kennedy administration interfered immediately and, under the name of "national security", "persuaded" the newspaper not to publish the report.

After disintegration of the former Soviet Union the US showed great interest in poking its nose into central-Asia areas, thus triggered off a new round of "Great Game" (which originally referred to long-term fighting between the United Kingdom and Tsarist Russia for central Asia). The US targeted not only the former Soviet Union and central Asian countries, but also China's Xinjiang and Tibet.

October 1998, professor Fuller with the University of Hawaii was dismissed by CIA for making a study on minority issues of China's Xinjiang. Later the professor, an expert in geography of Asian minorities, put the US government to court, and pointed out from the very beginning that he was dismissed because he disagreed with the policy of "China may split" made by CIA officials.

An open lawsuit between university professor and CIA might well hit headline. But in fact, expect for a Routers report that came one year later, we practically got nothing but silence from mainstream US media showing their long-standing interest in Xinjiang " splittists", only because such an article would thoroughly expose CIA's policy towards China.

"Zero report" from major papers on depleted uranium bomb

China-related news reports are not the only case. After learning US use of depleted uranium bombs as a weapon of mass destruction in the Gulf and Balkan areas all major US media had kept a complete silence over all related news and facts to help their government escape responsibilities in politics, law, economy and morality.

But the issue roused interest in Ms Wu Mei from Macao University. According to her statistics, from January 1, 1991 to June 30, 1999, Western European media, though most of them not belonging to English world, carried at least 195 English-language reports about depleted uranium bomb, including 38 pieces from UK-based Routers and 22 from France-based AFP.

Meanwhile the three biggest US news media fell all mute. The Wall Street Journal ran no report at all. The New York Times published only a piece of AP news and three readers' letters, without a single report of its own. The Washington Post was more interesting, having been the first to boast depleted uranium weapons against Iraq in 1991, then put out only two related pieces during a period of nine successive years.

Quantitative study on US media covering depleted uranium bombs could prove that news blackout by mainstream media on certain issues involving America's own national interests has become an indisputable fact, which has even enforced to an astonishing extent of great rigidity, this is Ms Wu's conclusion.

Narrow-minded foreign policy stems from a big, affluent nation

It is necessary to point out that the US-led English-language media exert a deciding influence on Chinese-language media all over the world. Former British colony Hong Kong and "democratic" Taiwan have long been nose-led by English media on international issues. What's worse, in recent years many mainland papers also played into the hands of English media, with much online news directly translated from those of US news media. These facts have made the "structural" news blackout based on "US national interests" by mainstream media all the more worrying.



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