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PBS' Failed Coverage of Convention Protests

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, representatives of the protest movement participating in the discussion!

Hey all,

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:

If you saw the program and feel inclined to send your comments to the

producers, email them at:

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.


Scott Harris

executive producer, "Between The Lines"

WPKN Radio 89.5 FM

Bridgeport, CT


"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be

heard on the internet at:


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

Smith Barney.


Scott Harris

Public Affairs Director

WPKN Radio 89.5 FM

Bridgeport, CT


Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
PBS O.O. Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 2:11 AM
Here's what I wrote... jasons Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 2:24 AM
PBS coverage was lame Silly Rabbit Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 3:22 AM
All corporate News coverage is lame GABE Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 5:21 AM
Only one commentator had read press releases Cathy Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000 at 6:54 AM

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