Sunday, May 4, 2014

Russian media self-destructs right before the world's eyes

In some ways, like it or not, journalism is like capitalism. If there is no incentive to produce some will do no more than show up for work.
A year ago writers who wrote about world affairs had to visit Russian TV, Ria Novosti and other sites to keep track of world news. The media bloomed after the Berlin Wall fell.
Now the sites, especially the news agency which should be the leader, is behind events by several days on a daily basis.
An interview was published this weekend with the single Russian “journalist” who has been hit by Western sanctions.
The world learned from Dmitry Kiselev, host of the popular Russian TV program, that “Russia has become the main defender of democratic principles and freedom of speech.”
He also defended the use of propaganda. “For some reason the West is using this word as an insult,” he said.
Apparently lacking in basic terms about psychology, he said the West was “schizophrenic.” He said, “Schizophrenia is a split in consciousness. It means living in parallel worlds and being guided by secondary things.”
In fact, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, schizophrenia is not split or multiple personalities, but a shattered personality that results in delusions and hallucinations, and a whole host of other problems. Split personalities, in some cases, have been induced by treatment.
But Kiselev would be at home on some US talk shows because he believes gays are evil, like his master, Vladimir Putin.
He told Izvestia: “Supporting the spread of gay culture in Russia amounts to self-elimination.”
Of course, unlike capitalism, some journalists will fight to get to stories because they are committed to the truth.
Compare the handling of recent stories to see the difference.
The BBC, for example, will show a graphic video it has obtained of murders or torture. If it can it will identify the source. If the source is not known to be a reliable, and known, newsperson, the Beeb as it is affectionately known, will say it cannot verify the veracity of the material. Russian TV not only does not identify the video producer. It does not even try to explain what happened. In some cases their camera crews are there, obviously having been warned events were going to take place.
On Sunday, for example, it claimed to show a man firing a gun at a burning building in Odessa, Ukraine.
The man does fire, but other shots were heard first, suggesting he was firing back at snipers in the building.
Those who worked along side Russian and East European journalists around the world during the Cold War didn’t have a hard time figuring out who the KGB agents were.
They often carried guns, and they were always first at the bar because they never had to file stories.
Photos of party members who had disappeared when hundreds of thousands bureaucrats and military officers were purged were removed from group photographs. Unfortunately their feet or other parts of their bodies were left in the image. Today’s tools are vastly superior, but still require some work to remove material. Who knows if perhaps a party member just let it go by.
While in the US bloggers fight to be considered journalists, in Russia anyone who blogs is considered a journalist. That means special rules apply. As Abe Lincoln said, if it wasn’t for the honor I could do without it.

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