Posts Tagged ‘propaganda model’

Swimming From Cambodia

February 13, 2016

I’m not sure what they’re smoking in the editorial offices at the New York Times, but it can’t yet be legal in the Empire State.  And it probably never should be.  How might we best describe the decision to publish this particular vacation travel article at this particular time?

  • tone-deaf
  • callously insensitive
  • completely clueless
  • just totally fucking oblivious

I didn’t think our Mediterranean vacation could get much better.  [We] had already swum several miles a day through astonishing turquoise waters off Kas, a remote village on Turkey’s southwest coast, where cliffs soar up from the sea, the soft air is scented with jasmine and views of the glimmering bay are downright therapeutic.

Amid a ring of seven islands, our group of open-water swimmers glided alongside limestone coastlines, the sunlight spangling the underwater landscape of smooth boulders and serrated pillars.  We swam over marine forests swaying in the current.  We crossed into the open sea, pulling rhythmically through a panorama of royal blue, a laser show of sunbeams funneling into a gleaming ring in the depth.

“It’s like swimming in the sky.”

That’s right, at a time when hundreds of Syrian refugees have been drowning in the Mediterranean as they attempt the ocean crossing into Greece, the Times decides to publish a puff-piece celebrating an American family’s weeklong swim vacation idyll in Turkey amid “translucent waters under mighty peaks … arcing our cupped hands into the water in unison, catching views of one another with each breath.  It was bliss.

Life-is-but-a-dream

Out of thirty-seven paragraphs, only one sentence buried halfway through the article acknowledges the elephant in the room:

The captain of the daily ferry between Kas (Turkey) and Meis (Greece) said that of the roughly 400 refugees crossing the water into Greece each month, most of them from Syria, 10 to 20 brave the [ 5 kilometer ] swim, waiting for nights with no moonlight so they would be undetected.

But quick, let’s change the subject, avert our eyes, and return to fantasies of paradise:

We swam a foot or two above the cragged shelves of submerged rock, as if soaring over canyons.  We would swim about 20 minutes and stop to rest and drink from water bottles or to check out a turtle floating below, some passing trumpet fish or another otherworldly seascape.  One minute we were peering underwater at the waves plowing fizzily into an island’s limestone bank; the next, we were in open sea more than 100 feet deep, as if drifting through an indigo dome, with no bottom in sight.

This sudden queasiness I feel isn’t seasickness, it’s utter disgust.  I can (resignedly) accept the fact that wealthy Americans are willing to blithely disport themselves in exotic Third World locales while the locals quietly starve within their quaint hovels.  I can (somewhat) sympathize with the staff of the Times travel section, who’ve seen their usually-reliable winter season ‘escape’ destinations suddenly rendered off-limits, ravaged by Zika virus.  But this is too much.  America’s haste to aid the Saudis in their Sunni reconquista has blown back in a big, big way and Syria’s little people are paying the price.  If you’ve already forgotten little Aylan, there are plenty more just like him washing ashore on those craggy limestone beaches.  For them, another kind of paradise awaits.

beachhead

 

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Weird Al-liance

December 6, 2013

You may have heard:  Ukrainians are revolting.  No, no — Lunghu’s not referring to their cuisine or the diminished standards of cleanliness often imposed by a long, cold winter.  Here we’re talking about the current social upheaval (public protest, its attendant repression, etc.) that has resulted from Comrade Bear and Comrade Wolf’s proxy war to control the breadbasket of Europe.  But if you’re seeking a conventional analytical discourse about generational conflict, divergent social aspirations, democracy and so forth … what are you doing here?  Lunghu will almost always cede the strategically-insignificant low ground to the Beltway blitherati and their mainstream media mouthpieces: go read the Washington Post and New York Times if you must.

Protest_Lublin_20131201

Instead let’s briefly explore an obscure tangent, one of the little-noticed (perhaps deliberately ignored?) casualties of the Ukraine conflict.  Femen.  Harassed into exile, largely isolated from other political movements in the Ukraine, herded to the margins of social discourse in Europe, almost completely ignored in the world beyond.  Not so long ago, Femen’s protest actions would at least receive (modest) media coverage [irony intended] in Europe, if only because bare breasts beyond Page Three can sometimes help sell newspapers too.  But Femen’s relationship with the Fourth Estate began to head downhill after early 2013 cameo appearances in Davos, Notre Dame, and Tunis.  It’s one thing to focus political ire on the usual villainous suspects (Putin, Yanukovych, et al.) and quite another to publically challenge the patriarchs of capital, church and petro-islam.

Femen_Kiev_20131201

Editors and publishers in many media outlets began to characterize Femen demonstrations as ‘stunts’ or stopped reporting them altogether.  Perhaps it was merely that the novelty had worn off, or perhaps it was just the inexorable process of Propaganda Model journalism at work: Femen’s message probably isn’t something that broadsheet and tabloid advertisers want delivered to their target audiences.

Unfortunately, Femen hasn’t been agile enough to adapt.  Over-reliance on mass media dissemination of their message has become an organizational weakness and a strategic vulnerability.  In response, they’ve tried to double-down (or is it “up the ante”?) – card-playing tactics that sometimes reveal a gambler is substituting escalation and blind hope for careful analysis of the underlying mathematics.   In the past several months, Femen actions have become increasingly strident, scattershot (aimed at an ever-wider variety of targets), and outrageous —all in an attempt to regain media attention.  Wake up – it ain’t happenin’.  How far beyond topless can you go, anyway?  Zombie topless? Maybe once. Then what?  A music video with Weird Al Yankovic?

Here’s the latest, briefly covered only by the French press:  rather than burning in effigy, pissing on Viktor Yanukovych in the streets of Paris.  The law of diminishing returns is definitely in full effect.

Five women from the Femen feminist movement gathered in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Paris on Sunday, bared their breasts and urinated on photos of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to condemn a crackdown on protesters angry about his rejection of a key EU deal.  The EU agreement would have opened borders to trade with Europe and set the stage for an easing of travel restrictions but Yanukovych reneged at the last moment, saying his country could not afford to sacrifice relations with Russia.

Femen_Paris_20131202

This counts as a media splash? Only in the smallest possible sense of the term.  In Lunghu’s none-too-humble opinion, things at Femen have gotta change. It’s time for a new strategic plan, a new communications campaign, an improved mode of discourse.  And don’t count on Facebook and Twitter to get the job done, either.  This is an organization in crisis that urgently needs an internal coup d’etat, a revolt by the palace guard, an ideological purge … or perhaps a far more boring democratic/egalitarian reorganization.  Lunghu’s got some ideas.  Call him before you’re desperate.  He’d love to meet you in Paris.

 

Lucky Thirteen

January 1, 2013

Lucky you, lucky me: it’s twenty-thirteen.  Before anyone has a chance to break a rashly-made New Year’s resolution, let’s take a quick(?) look at one of the few things that all of us can count on in the 21st Century … the annual New Year’s Day message from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea.  Brought to you for the very first time by Korea’s version of Chris Christie:  the kinder, gentler, sensitive Kim Jong-un.

20121215_KJU

This year, Lunghu is going with quantity before quality when reviewing Western media coverage of the DPRK annual message.  Why?  Because past experience has shown that there generally isn’t a whole lot of quality reporting on this topic.  Sometimes there isn’t much quantity either, but this year the message was the medium –not just a newspaper editorial, but an actual TV and radio broadcast of the Luminous Comrade’s very own voice.  Even so, for most journalists who drew the short straw and were forced to file a story on New Year’s Day, it was pretty much the same-old/ same-old.

Here’s a synopsis of coverage from Agence France Presse, BBC News, Yonhap News Service, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, New York Times, Washington Post, and  … al Jazeera.  Compare and contrast.

N. Korea Leader Calls for Easing of Tensions with S. Korea
Agence France Presse

7 paragraphs

(14%) 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(50%) 3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(36%) 2.5 context/background paragraphs [B]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-E-B-B-B/E-E

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • achieving Korean reunification
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war
  • build an economic giant in DPRK

North Korea Picks Stronger Economy, South Ties as Top 2013 Tasks
Bloomberg

12 paragraphs

(8%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(16%) 2 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(50%) 6 context/background paragraphs [B]
(25%) 3 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-B-A-A
B-E-B-B-A
B-B

4  DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “reunification of the country is the greatest national task that brooks no further delay.”
  • “develop coal-mining, electric power, metallurgical industries and rail transport”
  • “success of economic construction will be gauged by betterment of people’s living standards”

Analyst(s) quoted:

  • Cheong Seong Chang, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute
  • Unnamed analyst, who provided over-simplified economic rationale for China’s support of DPRK.

N Korea’s Kim Wants Better Living Standards, Arms
Associated Press

20 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(20%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(55%) 11 context/background [B]
(20%) 4 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-B-E-E
B-B-E-E-B-A-A
B-B-A-A-B-B-B

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • “The industrial revolution in the new century is … a scientific and technological revolution”
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “The defense industry sector should develop sophisticated military hardware in larger numbers”

Analysts quoted:
Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University
John Delury, an analyst at Yonsei University

North Korean Leader Reaches out to S Korea
al Jazeera

13(!) paragraphs

(8%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(15%) 2 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(69%) 9 context/background [B]
(8%)  1 paragraph of semi-editorial commentary [C]
(2 paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-B-E-E
B-B-B-B-B-B-C

2 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • achieving Korean reunification
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war

N0rth Korean Leader Makes Overture to South
New York Times

21 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(19%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(14%) 67 context/background [B]
(9%) 2 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(33%) 7! paragraphs discussing Park Geun-hye [P]

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-A-A-E-E-B
E-B-E-B-B-B-P-P-P
P-P-P-P

7 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • improving living standards
  • rejuvenating agriculture and light industries
  • “improve economic leadership and management”
  • development of more advanced weapons
  • “expand and improve upon friendly and cooperative relationships with all countries friendly to us”
  • “end the situation of confrontation between North and South”
  • “honor and implement North-South joint declarations”

Analysts quoted:
none — analysis limited to Kim’s media style is attributed to unnamed “outside analysts.”

In a calculated insult to the DPRK, the NYT website gave more prominent placement to a lifestyle story about the trendy Gangnam district of Seoul.  You know, that horse dance thing.  The Grey Lady also set its online-headline for the Kim Jong-un story using the “Zero” character instead of the capital “O” character.  Take a close look at the screen shot.  The Propaganda Model of journalism needs no finer exemplar.

38 N0rth

Kim Jong-un Calls for Building Economic Power, Resolving Tension with South
Yonhap News Service

20 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(35%) 7 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(5%)  2 context/background paragraphs [B]
(10%) 1 paragraph of explanatory analysis [A]
(5%)  2 paragraphs of reaction/ commentary [C]
(35%) 7 paragraphs covering KJU’s concert attendance [M]
(0!  paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-E-E-E-E-E-E-E
B-B-A-C-C
M-M-M-M-M-M-M

7 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • “launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 5 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration”
  • prioritize “the great national cause of reunifying the country”
  • “develop relations of friendship and cooperation with nations that are friendly to our country”
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • rejuvenate agriculture and light industries
  • stabilize and improve living standards
  • “fully demonstrate the high level of space science and technology, and overall power of Juche Korea”

Analysts quoted:
none — unnamed analysts comment on KJU’s efforts to emulate his grandfather by using a radio broadcast.

20130101_KJU

In New Year’s Speech, N. Korea’s Kim Says He Wants Peace with South
Washington Post

10 paragraphs

(10%) 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(35%) 3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(45%) 2.5 context/background [B]
(10%)  1 paragraph of reaction/ commentary [C]
(2 paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-E-B-B-B
E-E/B-E-C

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • implement North-South joint declarations
  • economic improvement
  • build an economic giant in DPRK

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Makes Rare New Year Speech
BBC News

13(!) paragraphs

(7%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(31%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(55%) 1 context/background paragraphs [B]
(7%)  1 paragraph coveringKJU’s concert attendance [M]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-B-B-B
E-E-E-B-B-B
M

4 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • improve the economy
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “Only when a nation builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country.”

And the winner is … Yonhap News Service, for the third consecutive year.  That’s a wrap!