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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Battle for the mind in the news media

Dr. Peter Hammond from Africa Christian Action has written a thought provoking article on the reporting abilities of the MSM. I have said for a long time that the modern MSM has lost its ability to report without being biased one way or another. Pick up a newspaper or watch the news or some so-called investigative TV news programme, and you will soon realize that it is not the truth that matters, but the point they are trying to make. Please, don't let the story be obscured by facts and truth!

Read Dr. Hammond's article below. Remember, the news you read or watch, is not all that it seems to be.


Without Fear or Favour

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour…” Ephesians 4:25

While claiming to be neutral, newspaper journalists and TV presenters often report the news from an anti-Christian point of view. At one time, especially in the 19th century, most leading newspapers were Christian. However, there has been a major shift in the news media on what is covered and how it is covered.

Is There an Agenda?

Instead of the wide-angle lens of context, all too often the zoom lens of selective focus has predominated. Is there an agenda? Or are we dealing merely with bias and prejudice?

Misinformation on Mozambique

My first mission field was Marxist Mozambique. Many asked why the mass media accounts of what was happening in Mozambique differed so radically from Frontline Fellowship reports.

My answer was that there simply was no freedom of speech, freedom of movement or freedom of the press in Mozambique at that time. Most press accounts in Mozambique came from Frelimo’s Agency Information Mozambique (AIM). These press releases were distributed by telex and the wire services of SAPA-Reuter and others. Most articles in the print media and items on radio and TV originated with AIM, a Marxist, state-owned propaganda agency – hardly renowned for honesty and lack of bias.

During the 1980’s very few journalists actually visited Mozambique, and those who did were normally restricted to the five-star Polana Hotel in Maputo. Their main sources of information were briefings by Frelimo officials, or guided tours and stage-managed interviews – all hosted by Marxist officials and translators.

In a country with a history of concentration camps, torture, public floggings and mass executions, it was easy to find co-operative villagers and pastors who would espouse the desired party line. Those gullible and naïve journalists who then readily parroted the standard stock phrases, parrot cries and clichés no doubt received Frelimo’s approval, and further invitations to return for another propaganda exercise some other day.

By way of contrast, our missionaries had continual contact with the people on the ground, in the rural areas. We got the feel of the country by personal experience, over long periods of time, and as the villagers unburdened their hearts to us and related what they had suffered. “An ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory.”

Disinformation in Rwanda

The ease with which the orchestrators of the genocide in Rwanda confused international journalists and abused their national media to mobilize the unprecedented concentration of carnage, raised uncomfortable questions.

In it’s 1200 page report on the genocide in Rwanda, African Rights concluded that: “The response to the aftermath of the genocide was almost as shocking as the response to the genocide itself…Progress towards justice has been negligible. On the contrary, there is a concentrated attempt to distort or deny what has happened. The survivors of the genocide are not the beneficiaries of national and international compassion and support, rather they are almost wholly forgotten, while displaced people and refugees receive massive and indiscriminate assistance…The refusal to face the reality of what is one of the very worst crimes against humanity since the foundation of the United Nations…”

The AR report found that the killings were meticulously organised in advance. The French-trained Presidential Guard, the Army, the Gendarmes and Civil Administrators were willing instruments in the genocide. The killings in Rwanda were no spontaneous outburst, but followed instructions from the highest level.

African Rights condemned the gullibility of the international media for accepting the MRND party line that the killings were merely “tribal anarchy” and “uncontrollable tribal killing.” By portraying the genocide as “tribalism” and as a result of “the war” they provided a smokescreen of confusion, which allowed the killers to proceed with their diabolical plans.

Central to the Hutu MRND government strategy was to sow confusion so that no one knew what was happening. They isolated their victims by imposing a news blackout, cutting telephone links, establishing a dense network of roadblocks, and imposing a nationwide curfew. These measures kept people in their homes and prevented most people from fleeing. By cutting communications and restricting travel they isolated their victims and sought to stifle the flow of news.

When the genocide was launched on 6 April 1994, most African correspondents were in South Africa for the elections. There were, actually, only two international journalists in Rwanda at that time – and they were in Kigali, cut off from what was going on in the rural areas

Following the assassination of the president the MRND government launched a campaign of disinformation. They portrayed the killings as a spontaneous outbreak of “tribal violence.” They sought to confuse the mass killings of defenseless peoples with “the war” and insisted that a ceasefire was the pre-condition for involvement. Thirdly they played “the humanitarian card” by pleading for emergency aid. All this deflected attention from the central issue of the genocide.

The tenancy [sic] of most journalists to label every conflict in Africa as “tribalism” has become absurd. Many foreign aid workers fuelled this tendency with ill-informed comments such as: “Everyone is killing everyone!”; “It’s uncontrollable violence”; “the Hutus and Tutsis are killing one another again!”

Having killed opposition politicians, Rwandese journalists, human rights activists and others who might present an accurate report on the bloodshed, the MRND government then pursued their second strategy of disinformation to confuse the issue with self-serving false reports. They portrayed the violence as “spontaneous rage” in response to the assassination of the president, even though it was the MRND government and military who were responsible for the assassination of the President themselves.

In the first days, international attention generally focused on the plight of foreigners. Camera crews were, understandably, only prepared to travel with international troops – whose mission was to evacuate foreigners. This naturally led to a slanted and incomplete picture being portrayed to the world.

The strategy of disinformation and terror so callously and effectively orchestrated by the MRND Hutu government in Rwanda was spectacularly successful. With most international attention focused on South Africa’s volatile elections, there were no journalists in the rural areas of Rwanda reporting on the massacres there. The rural genocide was effectively hidden from the outside world for almost three weeks.

Aaron Makuba, whose whole family was wiped out complained: “The world persists in characterizing the bloodshed as ethnic clashes. We who have lost our families, relatives, colleagues and neighbours regard this as unfair, unjust and a source of immense pain.”

“People should stop describing Rwanda to us as tribes who are in the process of killing one another,” Dr Jean Herve Bradol of MSF – France concluded, “I think it is really the final insult to the victims, to present the matters in this way. And I believe that this way of presenting things is not altogether incidental, perhaps in order to justify the passivity of various parties…”

Focusing on Darfur and Ignoring the Nuba

It is quite remarkable that such a vast amount of media attention has recently been focused on the suffering of Muslims in Darfur, while completely ignoring the vastly greater and much longer tragedy of Islamic Jihad against the Christians of Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains.

Approximately 2 million people, most of these Christians, died in the 50 years Jihad against the Christians in Southern Sudan. Yet, the news media showed little interest and the UN and Western governments did comparatively little for the Christian victims of Jihad in Southern Sudan.

However, for some reason, the five years of low intensity conflict in Western Sudan in Darfur has received enormous worldwide media and government attention. As a result it is has also received disproportionately more Church attention and aid.

Darfur is a 99% Muslim area in Western Sudan. What had been going on in Darfur is Muslim-on- Muslim violence. It is typical Arab banditry that has been going on for centuries. In this case Muslim Arabs are fighting against Muslim Blacks. The Christians that we serve in Southern Sudan, Northern Nigeria and other parts of Africa, are somewhat cynical about this, pointing out that it seems the West is only concerned for Muslims and never Christians.

The West was tremendously concerned for Muslims in Bosnia, Muslims in Kuwait, Muslims in Somalia, Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq and Muslims in Darfur. However, the West stood by while hundreds of thousands of Christians were slaughtered in Rwanda and in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. The point made is that it would seem that the world media, and the UN, would only mobilize international campaigns to support Muslim victims, never Christians.

Another point worth noting is that the Black Muslims of Darfur have traditionally been some of the worst slave raiders, guilty of many of the worst atrocities committed against Christians in Bar-el-Ghazal, and the Nuba Mountains. When General Charles Gordon travelled to Sudan in the 19 th century, he saw that the worst slave raids came from the Darfur Muslims. At that time he noted that 7 out of every 8 Black people in Sudan were slaves.

Villifying the Victims and Justifying the Villains

Over the last 26 years that I have been serving as missionary to the persecuted in Africa, I could not help but notice how frequently the mass media chose to target those targeted by international communism. Is it just coincidental that during the Rhodesian War, the Border war in South West Africa/Namibia, the riots in South Africa, the Killing fields of Mozambique, the civil war in Angola, the massacre of Matebele tribesmen in Zimbabwe, the Red Terror in Ethiopia, the holocaust in Rwanda, the Jihad in Sudan, the wave of church burning in Northern Nigeria, or any other of the many calamities and conflicts in Africa, most of the mass media have chosen to confuse the issues, avoid the heart of the matter, villify the victims and whitewash the villains?

Pro-Abortion Journalism

After one interview with a journalist from The Argus concerning our work in Sudan, I asked: “Why is it that The Argus continually publishes Pro-Abortion articles, and ignores Pro-Life events such as the Life Chains and the National Day of Repentance?”

The answer was astounding: “Well, we’re pro-choice.”

“Yes, I understand that, but surely it is your intention to report events and present the facts, without fear or favour, from both sides?”

She smiled and shrugged her shoulders: “Well, I’m pro-choice. Every journalist that I know is pro-choice. And, well, I guess we’re just biased!” she grinned broadly.

That was a remarkable honest statement, but there is no doubt that most of the print media in South Africa is pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality.

Selective Focus

Although most journalists and editors will claim that they are objective, even the most objective journalist has to admit that they collect far more facts than they publish. There is the judgment on what to cover, how to cover it, and what facts, opinions or viewpoints that they have come across to include in the story and which to discard.

Secondly the reporter or editor decides which of the facts should be included in the first paragraph of the story and thereby emphasized above the others.

Thirdly the editor will decide whether the story is placed on page one, or page sixteen. On page one it will attract far more attention than it would on any other page.

Spiking the Spiritual

Although at one time, particularly in the early part of the 19th century, journalism emphasized God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, most modern journalists choose to spike the Spiritual. At one time newspaper articles pointed out that kings who disobeyed God were exposed and deposed. Those who engaged in duels were without true honour because they sought esteem amongst men more than following God’s commands. Lightning storms were seen to demonstrate Spiritual lessons. Lack of repentance was shown to have murderous consequences.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:50

To read the rest of this article, click here.

The above article was published in the Christian Action magazine, 2009, Volume 2. Subscribe for only R60 a year. Published quarterly.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481
E-mail: info@christianaction.org.za
Web: www.christianaction.org.za
Some recommended Christian Media :
Christian News from Christians for Truth: mail@cft.org.za
Frontline Fellowship News: P.O. Box 74, Newlands, 7725, Cape Town, South Africa, admin@frontline.org.za.
Gospel Defence League: P.O. Box 832, Milnerton, 7435, Cape Town, dscarborough@mweb.co.za.
JOY! Magazine: P.O. Box 2990, Somerset West, 7130, Cape Town, South Africa, E-mail: info@joymag.co.za, Web: www.joymag.co.za
The Revivalist: 356-376 Ravenhill Road, Belfast, BT6 8GL, Northern Ireland
Movieguide: 2510 G, Las Posas Road 502, Camarillo, CA 93010, USA, Web: www.movieguide.org
World Magazine: P.O. Box 20002, Ashville, NC 28802-9998, USA, Web: www.worldmag.com
Focus on the Family Monthly Magazine: Private Bag X1023, Hillcrest, 3650, Cape Town, South Africa, E-mail: correspondence@fotf.co.za, Web: www.safamily.org.za

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