Bad News from Venezuela: Twenty years of fake news and misreporting (Routledge Focus on Communication and Society)

Author: Alan Macleod
This Month Reddit 5


by empleadoEstatalBot   2019-07-21


> # Why Venezuela Reporting Is So Bad > >
> Bad News From Venezuela > > Alan MacLeod’s Bad News From Venezuela > > > > For almost 20 years, the US government has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s government, and establishment media outlets (state, corporate and some nonprofit) throughout the Americas and Europe have been bending over backwards to help the US do it. > > Rare exceptions to this over the last two decades would be found in the state media in some countries that are not hostile to Venezuela, like the ALBA block. Small independent outlets like also offered alternatives. In the US and UK establishment media, you are way more likely to see a defense of Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship than of Venezuela’s democratically elected government. Any defense of Venezuela’s government will provoke vilification and ridicule, so both Alan MacLeod and his publisher (Routledge) deserve very high praise for producing the book Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting. It took real political courage. (Disclosure: MacLeod is a contributor to, as am I.) > > MacLeod’s approach was to assess 501 articles (news reports and opinion pieces) about Venezuela that appeared in the US and UK newspapers during key periods since Hugo Chávez was first elected Venezuelan president in 1998. Chávez died in March 2013, and his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, was elected president a month later. Maduro was just re-elected to a second six-year term on May 20. The periods of peak interest in Venezuela that MacLeod examined involved the first election of Chávez in 1998, the US-backed military coup that briefly ousted Chávez in April of 2002, the death of Chávez in 2013 and the violent opposition protests in 2014. > > MacLeod notes that US government funding to the Venezuelan opposition spiked just before the 2002 coup, and then increased again afterwards. What would happen to a foreign government that conceded (as the US State Department’s Office of the Inspector General did regarding Venezuela) that it funded and trained groups involved with violently ousting the US government? > > MacLeod shows that, in bold defiance of the facts, the US media usually treated US involvement in the coup as a conspiracy theory, on those rare occasions when US involvement was discussed at all. Only 10 percent of the articles MacLeod sampled in US media even mentioned potential US involvement in the coup. Thirty-nine percent did in UK media, but, according to MacLeod, “only the Guardian presented US involvement as a strong possibility.” > > Venezuelan Media: Caged or Free? > > Source: Alan MacLeod > > > > As somebody who regularly reads Venezuelan newspapers and watches its news and political programs, I thought the most powerful evidence MacLeod provided of Western media dishonesty was a chart showing how Venezuela’s media system has been depicted from 1998–2014. Of the 166 articles in MacLeod’s sample that described the state of Venezuela’s media, he classified 100 percent of them as spreading a “caged” characterization: the outlandish story that the Chávez and Maduro governments dominate the media, or have otherwise used coercion to practically silence aggressive criticism. > > There is a bit of subjectivity involved in classifying articles in a sample like MacLeod’s. From my own very close reading of the US and UK’s Venezuela coverage over the years, I’m sure one could quibble that a few articles within MacLeod’s sample contradict the “caged” story; perhaps reducing the percentage to 95 percent, but that would hardly assail his conclusion. It is truly stunning that Western journalists can’t be relied on to accurately report the content of Venezuelan newspapers and TV. How hard is it to watch TV and read newspapers, and notice that the government is being constantly blasted by its opponents? No background in economics or any type of esoterica is required to do that much—simply a lack of extreme partisanship and a minimal level of honesty. > > MacLeod acknowledges that the Carter Center has refuted a few big lies about the Venezuelan government, including the one about government critics being shut out of Venezuela’s media, but he also reminds us that a week after the perpetrators of the 2002 coup thanked Venezuela’s private media for their help installing a dictatorship, Jennifer McCoy (America director for the Carter Center at the time) wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (4/18/02) in which she said that the “Chávez regime” had been “threatening the country’s democratic system of checks and balances and freedom of expression of its citizens.” Venezuelan democracy deserved much better “allies.” The Carter Center may have sparkled at times compared to the rest of the US establishment, but it’s a very filthy establishment. > > Drawing from the work of Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky, MacLeod provides a structural analysis of why coverage of Venezuela has been so terrible. Corporate journalists, with rare exceptions, reflexively dismiss common-sense analysis of their industry. Chomsky and Herman therefore resorted to proving various common-sense propositions, identifying “filters” that distort news coverage in ways that serve the rich and powerful. For example, it matters who pays the bills. (In other news, water is wet.) Corporate-owned, ad-dependent media will tend to serve the agenda of wealthy owners and corporate customers who provide the bulk of the ad dollars. Such media will usually hire and promote people whose worldview is compatible with the arrangement. That greatly reduces the need for heavy-handed bullying to enforce an editorial line. > > Business pressures also drive media outlets to cuts costs, and therefore rely on governments and big corporate outfits as cheap and readily available sources. Losing “access” by alienating powerful sources therefore becomes expensive, even before you consider other forms of flak that powerful people can apply. > > Beyond the general “filters” that Chomsky and Herman identified, MacLeod described others that are specific to Venezuela. MacLeod pointed to > > > massive cuts to newsroom budgets, leading to reliance on local stringers. Local journalists recruited from highly adversarial Venezuelan opposition–aligned press, leading to a situation where Venezuelan opposition ideas and talking points have their amplitude magnified. Anti-government activists producing supposedly objective news content for Western media. > > He also explained that > > > journalists are overwhelmingly housed in the wealthy Chacao district of Eastern Caracas…. This, combined with concerns over crime, creates a situation where journalists inordinately spend their work and leisure time in an opposition bastion. Hence, it can appear to a journalist that “everyone” has a negative opinion about the government. > > I wish MacLeod had more forcefully stressed another factor explaining why Venezuela reporting is so bad: impunity. A structural analysis explains why biased coverage results even if journalists are usually honest, but being able to say anything you want about an adversary without having to worry about being refuted (and discredited) encourages dishonesty. Media bias in Venezuela’s case could more appropriately be called media corruption. >

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by kavabean2   2019-07-21

Before you listen to this guy you should read what A. Macleod, an academic who wrote his PhD thesis on Venezuela and media manipulation wrote about this topic in an AMA.

His book is on amazon.

It's also worth remembering what the same media and these same NGOs (HRW/Amnesty) led us into destroying Libya

by AntsInMyEyesJonson   2019-07-21

Here's a write-up, with sources, on why the narrative on that is absolutely rife with bullshit and not nearly so simple. Originally by /u/A-MacLeod:

I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of “if you like socialism look at starving Venezuela” comments all over the media, most recently with Meghan McCain on The View which the Chapo Boys talked about in the last episode and someone asked me for a response to her comments.

The reason they asked me was that I have a PhD in sociology and more specifically looking at how the Western media covers Venezuela.

I recently wrote a book called “Bad News From Venezuela” which details the enormous disparity between the image of the country and the empirical reality and features interviews with journalists where they admit to not being able to speak Spanish, not leaving their penthouse apartments very often, paying locals to write their stories and knowingly printing fake news about the country.

I also write about the media coverage of Venezuela at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Firstly, I’ve yet to see any credible study about how much weight Venezuelans have lost. I’ve seen plenty of organizations linked to the local opposition spouting out numbers though.

Venezuelans are hungry in good part because capitalists in the country are intentionally trying to starve them by withholding food in order to provoke an uprising, as they have done numerous times in recent history, for example, before the 2014 elections and in the year of the 2002 and 2002/3 attempted coups. After decades of neoliberalism, Latin American countries’ food systems are dominated by often a single massive multinational which creates, imports or distributes most of the food. For instance, the company Polar dominates the food market, controlling over half the flour controls over half the flour in the country (the staple) and also owns a network of supermarkets.

Secondly, Venezuela is also suffering because of the US sanctions, which the UN General Assembly condemned, noting they were deliberately designed to “disproportionately affect the poor and the most vulnerable classes” , calling on all states not to recognize them and began discussing reparations that the US must pay to Venezuela. None of this has been reported anywhere in the US media; I have checked.

The Venezuelan people, unlike us, of course, know all this, and that’s why even during this period the government’s popularity has gone up and they convincingly won the recent election. Of course, none of this is to say that the government is good or doing well. I'm actually highly critical of where the government has gone. But if we actually care about facts and context and discussion, this stuff needs to be known, otherwise we are completely ignorant of the situation.

These are not the only reasons why the economy is bad, you can read a longer explanation here.

Finally, if this is proof socialism failed, then Ecuador must be proof that socialism works, as under the socialist president Correa, unemployment fell to a record low of 4%, poverty fell by 27% in 7 years all while beginning to bring in universal free education and healthcare and reducing its debt. Of course, none of this is ever brought up by these people because they don’t want an honest discussion about “socialism” and they don’t want people knowing about these countries.

So a response in 140 characters would be Venezuelans are hungry because big capitalists in the country are intentionally trying to starve them and because of illegal US sanctions. This certainly doesn’t tell the whole story but is a quick comeback.

Oh yeah, and if you are interested in the book but balk at the price, DM me your email address and I could send you a copy of my PhD which is pretty similar to the book.

by rooimier   2018-11-10

Jesus Christ, et tu Atlantic? I'm tired of debating this, but if you're interested, have a view/read of the following material.


by lil_wage   2018-11-10

Apparently there's a book out about this stuff called Bad News from Venezuela: Twenty years of fake news and misreporting

by A-MacLeod   2018-11-10

I wrote up a response to John Oliver's Venezuela piece here

Edit: If people like critiques of the media coverage of Venezuela, I literally wrote the book on it . Get your library to stock it! If you're interested but broke DM me and I could send you a pdf of my PhD, on which the book was based.

I also wrote quite a bit about the media coverage of the recent elections, which you can find here and here