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Burma (aka Myanmar) has been on the front page of the Globe and Mail twice this week, and has been featured by many other publications and media outlets, as monks and pro-democracy protesters are mercilessly killed on the orders of the military junta that rules the country.
This has spawned a whole outpouring of solidarity and concern in various forms, as should be expected.
But the media coverage has been truly bizarre, and it seriously compromises the aims of that solidarity. The massive coverage given to the Burmese crackdown raises two very serious questions, the premises of which are somewhat contradictory:
1. Where was the the media outrage when this was happening in Haiti?
Early descriptions of Mark Mackinnon's new book, The New Cold War received a skeptical reaction from this corner -- to say the least -- and Stefan Christoff's and my critique of his coverage in Lebanon resulted in a bit of a scrap via email.
You can always count on the business section of the Globe to give you the real news, without the spin.
In today's Globe, Bruce Konviser hits all the major notes of Globe and Mail foreign coverage: unspecified "pro-western reforms" are good, "nationalism" is "destabilizing", and why should any facts get in the way of us reporting that story once again.
I forgot the most important one: history doesn't exist, and if it does, it doesn't matter.
(For a long, fascinating, historical take on whether Serbia should join the EU, check out this essay of sorts by John Bosnitch)
For his remarks, read the discussion.
* * *
From "Hezbollah protestors rally against government," by Mark MacKinnon.
Published in The Globe and Mail on Dec. 2, 2006.
The demonstrators accused the government, which has supported international calls for Hezbollah to surrender its weapons, of being run by the U.S. embassy. "Down with Feltman's government!" was a popular chant, referring to Jeffery Feltman, the U.S. ambassador.
The following is a list of all the quotes (or near-quotes) I could find in nineteen articles written by Mark MacKinnon about the situation in Lebanon over a three week period. This serves as an appendix of sorts to our response to MacKinnon's response to the recent analysis of MacKinnon's reporting. But it also provides a degree of insight into how systematically MacKinnon avoids any discussion of the motivation factors behind the massive demonstrations that are still occupying downtown Beirut.
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail published a half-decent piece about the sit ins in Beirut. I can't help but wonder if the sudden improvement in coverage (which is to say, conformity with well-established facts) had something to do with this analysis that the Dominion published two weeks ago of Mark Mackinnon's wildly misleading coverage of the same protests.
The crux of that analysis was that Mark Mackinnon probably wouldn't mind telling the truth, but likes having his job and pleasing his editors better than he likes telling the truth. (Not unlike a lot of people, probably...) And that, given the opportunity, Mackinnon probably wouldn't have a personal problem with reporting accurately. It's just that when his editors want something different, his career takes precedence.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.