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250+ scholars criticize post-S11 media coverage

by Melissa Wall Saturday, Oct. 13, 2001 at 5:45 AM
melissa.a.wall@csun.edu

While the mainstream media is busy patting itself on the back for its coverage of the events following September 11, a group of communication scholars from around the world has criticized that coverage and issued a petition calling for “more responsible journalism.”

errorWhile the mainstream media is busy patting itself on the back for its coverage of the events following September 11, a group of communication scholars from around the world has criticized that coverage and issued a petition calling for more responsible journalism.

In the space of three days, communication professors and graduate students from 23 countries endorsed the call which was circulated via email. The petition with more than 250 signatures (see below) has been sent to senior producers and vice presidents of news operations at all major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks.

Many of the signatories have devoted their careers to researching and teaching about mass media coverage and how the news industry works.

We wanted to draw on our expertise as people who systematically think about media performance, said Robert Huesca, associate professor of communication at Trinity University in Texas, one of the petitions organizers. The idea was to call on journalists to draw on the strengths of U.S. journalism's traditions and to rise to the occasion of using them in this environment of crisis.

Among the signers are professors from throughout Southern California who believe the news coverage features too narrow a range of viewpoints and includes too little context for the average American to have an informed opinion.

I was appalled by the immediate network mobilization of war sentiment and the tabloidization of network news by means of cheap, emotive sloganeering," said Oliver Boyd-Barrett, professor of communication at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

The coverage on network news and in newsmagazines has seemed to me to have adopted the goal to prepare us for war, rather than to explore questions such as How did we get to this point? or Whose war would this be? said Aaron Castelan Cargile, Director of Graduate Studies at California State University, Long Beach. I've been gravely disappointed by the largely uncritical lens Americans have been given to view this war.

Indeed airing any criticism at all is framed as unpatriotic, said Kristin Moran, assistant professor of communication studies at the University of San Diego. Any alternative discourses have been marginalized, she said.

Instead, the same handful of sources, often retreads from previous administrations or even those accused of human rights violations themselves, are being trotted out to comment on the same small set of questions. Peace activists, academics who study the Middle East and other progressive voices are missing.

Many important questions are not being asked, said Boyd-Barrett, who points out that prior to September 11 the U.S. government was already increasing its reach into the Caspian Sea areas, an important source of oil. Who is seriously weighing the competence of this administration to handle the complexity and fragility of that regional imbroglio and its nuclear possibilities?

Yet many of these scholars believe that if the media can be held accountable and be pushed toward doing a better job, then the American public would ultimately benefit by being prepared to make better decisions. Uncritical media coverage of issues from Central America to the Gulf War has facilitated U.S. foreign policies that I believe most Americans would reject if they were better informed, said Rosalind Bresnahan, assistant professor of Communication Studies at California State University, San Bernardino.

The American people arent stupid, said Donald Shores, professor of broadcasting at Pepperdine University, but they do need accurate and complete information.


The petition calls on the mainstream media to take the following steps:

* Expand and balance the range of information sources beyond current and former U.S. military and government officials to include domestic and international academics, think tank analysts, and civic leaders.

* Seek diverse and contrasting perspectives, including ethnic and gender diversity, that will broaden and deepen discussions regarding potential courses of action in response to this tragedy.

* Incorporate historical, cultural, and religious dimensions into interviews and reports whenever possible, rather than treating them as discrete topics isolated from routine reporting.

* Expose audiences to the research, practices, and guidance of the large body of scholars and practitioners of peace studies.

* Select language and images that most dispassionately and accurately describe events and conditions; avoid routinely adopting the terms and interpretations of officials into breaking and continuing news portrayals.

* Limit the repetition of extreme images of destruction, violence, pain, and suffering, and balance them with routine examples of cooperation, reconstruction, and reconciliation.

* Reassign employees to non-editorial responsibilities if they have conflicts of interest with current policy discussions. This would include former employment in key government agencies and family relationships to high-ranking government officials.


Signed by

Fay Akindes, University of Wisconsin, Parkside

Rosita Albert, University of Minnesota

Mark D. Alleyne, University of Illinois

Michael Applegate, University of Northern Colorado

Jayne Armstrong, Falmouth College of Arts, United Kingdom

John S. Armstrong, University of Utah

Luis Artigas de Quadras, Unesco, Paris

Lee Artz, Loyola University, Chicago

Jeanni Atkins, University of Mississippi

Joe Atkins, University of Mississippi

Chris Atton, Napier University, Scotland

Fredi Avalos-C'deBaca, California State University, San Marcos

Robert K. Avery, University of Utah

Clint Baldwin, Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky

Stephen P. Banks, University of Idaho

Margaret Batschelet, University of Texas at San Antonio

Myron Beasley, Brown University

Catherine Becker, University of Hawaii

Bob Bennett, Coventry University, United Kingdom

Paul Bisnette, University of Durham, United Kingdom

Nelson Borelli, Northwestern University

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Gill Branston, Cardiff University, Wales

Ralph Braseth, University of Mississippi

Nina Shipman Bremer, University of Hawaii at Hilo

Nancy Brendlinger, Bowling Green State University

Edward Brennan, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

Rosalind Bresnahan, California State University, San Bernardino

Mike Budd, Florida Atlantic University

Secil Buker, Gazi University, Turkey

Julie Burke, Bowling Green State University

Nick Burns, University of Utah

Melissa Butcher, University of Western Sydney

Carl Bybee, University of Oregon

Carolyn M. Byerly, George Washington University

William Byers, Worcester State College

Dianne Bystrom, Iowa State University, Ames

Nadia Caidi, University of Toronto

Patrick Cannon, University of South Florida

Donal Carbaugh, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Aaron Castelan Cargile, California State University, Long Beach

Nico Carpentier, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Barry L. Casey, Columbia Union College, Takoma Park, Maryland

Michael Casey, Pepperdine University

Antoni Castells i Talens, University of Florida

Paula Chakravartty, University of California, San Diego

Leeva Chung, University of San Diego

Laurence Claeys, Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen, Belgium

Kathleen D. Clark, University of Akron

Seth Cohen, University of New Mexico

Mary Jane Collier, University of Denver

Christine Conlon, University of Technology, Sydney

Michael J. Curtin, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Ann L. Darling, University of Utah

Jannette Dates, Howard University

Suzanne Daughton, Southern Illinois University

David Deacon, Loughborough University, England

Marjan de Bruin, University of the West Indies

Carlos del Valle, University of la Frontera, Tamuco, Chile

Brenda Dervin, Ohio State University, Columbus

Leen d'Haenens, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Bruce Dorries, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia

Michael Dorsher, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Laura Drake, University of Maryland

Tanja Dreher, University of Western Sydney

Greg Durbin, San Diego State University

John Downing, University of Texas at Austin

Carol Dykers, Salem College, Winston-Salem

John Eger, San Diego State University

Norm Elliott, University of Utah

Jessica Evans, Open University, United Kingdom

Michael Robert Evans, Indiana University

Tamara L. Falicov, University of Kansas

Elissa Fineman, Trinity University, San Antonio

Anita Fleming-Rife, Pennsylvania State University

Annette Folwell, University of Idaho

Carlos Fontes, Worcester State College

Sonja Foss, University of Colorado at Denver

Sabrina Freeney, Georgia State University

Romy Frhlich, University of Munich, Germany

Martha Fuentes, University of Texas at Austin

Suzanne Gainer, Worcester State College

Oscar Gandy, University of Pennsylvania

Bill Gentile, Kent State University

George Gerbner, Dean Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

Martha Gever, Florida Atlantic University

Howie Giles, University of California, Santa Barbara

Gabriel Giralt, University of Akron

Mirerza Gonzlez-Vlez, University of Iowa

Ronald Gordon, University of Hawaii, Hilo

Julie Gowin, University of Maryland

Jo Anna Grant, Arkansas State University

Michael Green, University of Birmingham, England

Larry Gross, University of Pennsylvania

Alfonso Gumucio Dagron, Guatemala City

Louisa Ha, Bowling Green State University

Anabel Quan Haase, Knowledge Media Design Institute, Toronto

Harry Haines, Trinity University, San Antonio

Donna Halper, Emerson College

Tim Hamlett, Hong Kong Baptist University

Philip Hammond, South Bank University, London

Sylvia Harvey, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

Bettina Heinz, Bowling Green State University

Jean-Marie Higiro, Western New England College, Springfield, Massachusetts

John Hochheimer, Ithaca College

Robert B. Horwitz, University of California, San Diego

John Howard, Bowling Green State University

Kevin Howley, Northeastern University

Thomas Huckin, University of Utah

Robert Huesca, Trinity University, San Antonio

Ang Peng Hwa, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Mary Jackson-Pitts, Arkansas State University

Sue Curry Jansen, Muhlenberg College

John Jirik, University of Texas at Austin

Melissa A. Johnson, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Alexa Joyce, European Schoolnet

Kirk Junker, Dublin City University, Ireland

Susana Kaiser, University of San Francisco

Yahya Kamalipour, Purdue University Calumet

Priya Kapoor, Portland State University

Holly Kawakami, University of New Mexico

Daun Kendig, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota

Dorothy Kidd, University of San Francisco

Eric M. Kramer, University of Oklahoma at Norman

Klaus Krippendorff, University of Pennsylvania

Antonio C. La Pastina, Texas A&M University

Sidni Lamb, University of New Mexico

Carolyn Lee, University of Hawaii

Chin-Chuan Lee, University of Minnesota

Jan Leivers, Loughborough College, England

Rozanne Leppington, University of Wisconsin, Parkside

Stuart Liebman, Queens College, City University of New York

Peter Ludes, Universitt-GH Siegen, Germany

Margret Luenenborg, University of Leipzig, Germany

Rashmi Luthra, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Susan Macmillan, Queens College, City University of New York

Ursula Maier-Rabler, University of Salzburg, Austria

Patricia Geist Martin, San Diego State University

Richard Maxwell, Queens College, City University of New York

Genevieve G McBride, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Robert McChesney, University of Illinois

Allan McDougall, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Jeanne McPherson, University of Colorado at Boulder

Peter Meech, University of Stirling, Scotland

Eileen R. Meehan, Arizona State University

Srinivas R. Melkote, Bowling Green State University

Joshua Meyrowitz, University of New Hampshire

Lisa M. Millhous, West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Bella Mody, Michigan State University

Kristin Moran, University of San Diego

Shane Moreman, University of South Florida

Joanne Morreale, Northeastern University

Joy Morrison, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Sundeep R. Muppidi, University of Hartford

Patrick Murphy, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

Jenny Nelson, Ohio University

Tsukasa Nishida, Nihon University, Japan

Eleanor Novek, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ

Donna Marie Nudd, Florida State University

Rafael Obregon, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia

John Oetzel, University of New Mexico

Tania Ogay, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Deborah Orlowski, University of Michigan

Guillermo Orozco-Gmez, Universidad de Guadalajara

Susan Owen, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma

Ayo Oyeleye, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, United Kingdom

Susan Scott Parrish, University of Michigan

Kartik Pashupati, Florida State University

Chris Paterson, University of San Francisco

Kim Pearson, The College of New Jersey, Ewing

Janice Peck, University of Colorado at Boulder

Norma Pecora, Ohio University

Mark Pedelty, University of Minnesota

Stephanie Peters, University of South Florida

Charles Peterson, North Park University, Chicago

Jeff Peterson, University of New Mexico

Julian Petley, Brunel University, United Kingdom

Chris Powell, University of Southern Maine

Paschal Preston, Dublin University, Ireland

Michael Purdy, Governors State University, Illinois

Asim Qayyum, University of Toronto

Charles Raiteri, University of Mississippi

Sana Reynolds, New York University

John E. Richardson, Sheffield University, United Kingdom

Andrei Richter, Moscow Media Law and Policy Institute, Russia

Christopher J. Richter, Hollins University, Roanoke

Diana Rios, University of Connecticut

David Ritchie, Portland State University

Yeidy Rivero, Indiana University

Melinda Robins, Emerson College, Boston

George Rodman, Brooklyn College

America B. Rodriguez, University of Texas at Austin

Clemencia Rodriguez, University of Oklahoma at Norman

Amanda Root, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

John Rosenbaum, Ithaca College

Karen Ross, Coventry University, United Kingdom

Josep Rota, Ohio University

Lorna Roth, Concordia University, Montreal

David Rubin, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Ramona Rush, University of Kentucky

J. F. Saddler, Temple University

Katharine Sarikakis, Coventry University, United Kingdom

Sarah Sayeed, Baruch College, New York

Mark Schlesinger, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Mehdi Semati, Eastern Illinois University

Jan Servaes, President, European Consortium for Communications Research

Radhika Seth, Georgia State University

Hemant Shah, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Milt Shatzer, Pepperdine University

Peter Shields, Bowling Green State University

Vickie Rutledge Shields, Bowling Green State University

Sheida Shirvani, Ohio University, Zanesville

Pamela Shoemaker, Syracuse University

Don Shores, Pepperdine University

Roger Silverstone, London School of Economics and Political Science

Ted Singelis, California State University, Chico

Olivia Smith, University of Arkansas

Slavko Splichal, University of Ljubljana, Slovenija

Carol Stabile, University of Pittsburgh

Susan Stehlik, New York University

Clay Steinman, Macalester College, St. Paul

Beverly Stoeltje, Indiana University

Nathan Stucky, Southern Illinois University

Federico Subervi, University of Texas at Austin

Kristie Alley Swain, Texas A & M University

Lora Taub, Muhlenberg College

Jacqueline Taylor, De Paul University

Majid Tehranian, University of Hawaii

Georgios Terzis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Avinash Thombre, University of New Mexico

Peter Thompson, UNITEC Institute of Technology, New Zealand

Mary Triece, University of Akron

Thomas Tufte, University of Copenhagen

Eiko Ujitani, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, Japan

Willard Uncapher, University of California, Davis

Lisa Philips Valentine, University of Western Ontario

Cassandra Van Buren, University of Utah

Herman van den Berg, University of Toronto

Lucila Vargas, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Jan Visser, Learning Development Institute

Muriel Visser, Florida State University

Melissa Wall, California State University, Northridge

Peter Waterman , Global Solidarity Group, The Netherlands

Jody Waters, University of Texas at Austin

Lisa Weidman, University of Georgia

Maudie Whelan, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Dennis L. Wignall, Saginaw Valley State University

Karin Gwinn Wilkins, University of Texas at Austin

Kenton Wilkinson, University of Texas at San Antonio

Dwayne Winseck, Carleton University, Ottawa

Gary Woodward, The College of New Jersey, Ewing

Nancy Wyatt, Pennsylvania State University Delaware County, Media

Lou Zitnik, Hawaii Community College


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Scholars criticize media Shelby Clark Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001 at 5:21 AM
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