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by Scott Harris, Between The Lines
Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 1:54 AM
Talking back to the producers of Public Television's NewsHour program which featured a vacuous 20 minute segment on the convention protests with, get this,....no representatives of the protest movement participating in the discussion!
Attached is a copy of a letter I wrote to the producers of the
PBS News Hour program after watching 20 minutes of unbelievably
vacuous coverage of the protests at the Democrat's convention in L.A.
The program was broadcast Thursday 8/17/00. You can get a look at it
by going to their web site at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/
If you saw the program and feel inclined to send your comments to the
producers, email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
While I know our letters will probably have little effect on the
corporate sponsored, corporate slanted and spun coverage we now have
come to expect from PBS, at least it feels good to let loose on the overpaid,
career media meisters whose pay checks comes from those "good folks" at
Exxon-Mobil and Archer Daniels Midland.
executive producer, "Between The Lines"
WPKN Radio 89.5 FM
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be
heard on the internet at: http://www.btlonline.org
Dear NewsHour producers,
I tuned into your program this evening and was momentarily excited by
the prospect of a feature segment on the protests targeting both the
democratic and republican conventions this summer.
It was soon clear that the 20 minutes your producers devoted to this
topic would do little to inform your viewers of who was in the streets
and why they were there.
In the initial moments of the segment your reporter Jeffrey Kaye of
KCET, Los Angeles narrated over video images of the protests, discussing
a few of the issues and groups participating in demonstrations around
the Staples Convention hall in L.A.. Although he paid plenty of
attention to police/ activist tension - very little time was given to
any of the demonstrators speaking to the more important question: Why
were they there? Only 3 demonstrators got their 20 second sound bites:
1) An organizer of the D2K network; 2) an anarchist and 3) a teacher/
union member saying he supported the Democrats and Al Gore.
The next 3-4 minutes presented Ray Suarez interviewing Rep. Bobby Rush,
Dem. of Chicago (a former black panther) on the convention floor, who
criticized the protesters for not having one easily digestible message
"like we did in the 1960's - opposing the Vietnam War and support for
Civil Rights." Mr. Rush admitted that he did not know what these
activists were protesting about, but he offered advise. He said, make
your message simple and don't expect "pop-up" protests to have any
resonance with the American people without first organizing in the
community, educating people about your issues.
The final 12 - 14 minutes of the segment consisted of a roundtable
discussion with the Newshour's regular commentators. Those around the
table summarized the important role protests played in social change
during the 1960's. Unfortunately these commentators demonstrated not the
slightest bit of knowledge about the short history of this current
movement for global social justice. Without exception your panelists
were dismissive of the future effectiveness of this new movement - not
even noting, ironically, that this new burst of political activism was
only 8 months old.
Your producer's mystifying decision not to include any representatives
of those organizing the protests on the program resulted in a
superficial exercise which not only left out critical information about
what's going on in the streets but also served to perpetuate a distorted
picture of who is on the streets and why.
People watching your program hoping for a more in-depth view on this
topic than is usually provided by the corporate media were certainly as
disappointed as I.
Corporate power, economic globalization and the concurrent erosion of
democracy are among the major set of issues that is driving disparate
social movements together into multi-issue coalitions. I can only
speculate that this strident anti corporate message may have been an
uncomfortable topic to examine in any depth given that the Newshour is
dependent on some of the world's largest trans-national corporations for
their annual funding.
Because of the Newshour's stark omission from the program of any
movement representatives, your viewers are probably unaware of the
important new coalitions that have been developing since last winter's
major demonstrations in Seattle against the policies of the World Trade
Organization. Environmentalists, labor, students against sweat shops,
human rights advocates and activists working against police brutality
and for abolition of the death penalty have been organizing and planning
together to challenge the post-cold war triumphalism of corporate
domination, not just here in the U.S., but all around the world.
I hope when the Newshour decides to again examine this growing social
justice movement, your producers will have the common sense to include
in the discussion activists within the movement...that is if its ok with
your friends at Archer Daniels Midland, Travelers Insurance and Salomon
Public Affairs Director
WPKN Radio 89.5 FM
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||Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 2:11 AM
|Here's what I wrote...
||Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 2:24 AM
|PBS coverage was lame
||Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 3:22 AM
|All corporate News coverage is lame
||Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 5:21 AM
|Only one commentator had read press releases
||Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 6:54 AM
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