portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war | media criticism

Deconstruct the Corporate Media

The slogan "Fuck the Corporate Media" is doing the movement harm. Putting up our hands to block the cameras, swearing, spitting, and provoking the corporate whores might be fun, but it makes us look bad. Why should we make it easy for them to misrepresent us?
Instead of trying to disrupt the corporate media we should deconstruct it. Instead of yelling at reporters we should challenge them with real questions and analysis.

We should refuse to answer their questions, sure...but why not ask our own questions of them rather than moon the cameras, or hurl obscenities? The next time a corporate media representative steps up with a camera don't push them back with your hands, ask them how they sleep. Ask them, for instance, how they feel about the fact that studies have shown that the more people watched television coverage of the first Gulf war the less they were likely to know about what actually happened. Ask them how the can reconcile the fact that some 68 percent of the public thinks that there were Iraqis on the planes that hit the World Trade Center, ask them why they choose to be miseducators, ask them how they can call themselves journalists when they have to read questions from scripts when questioning officials.

Let's challenge these people, not with the hope of winning them over, but with the idea that if we truly pull the veil aside each and everytime they point the camera in our direction they'll be frustrated in their attempts to put forward their agenda.

Yelling obscenities and all of that just makes us look bad. They win if we go down that road.

Deconstruction is the right tactic, not disruption.

homepage: homepage: http://www.douglaslain.com

right on 21.Mar.2003 14:23

one love

i totally agree with you brother. if we spit and yell at the brainwashing media we are only making OURSELVES look bad. that is why we get the label terriosts. instead make your statements, do what you believe in, i feel you should try to say what you believe to the media and if they don't want to listen to the TRUTH, then simply walk away.

one wonders 21.Mar.2003 14:29


one wonders what would happen if one of those reporters decided to sit down along side us. or maybe even a police officer!?!

diversity of tactics 21.Mar.2003 14:51

hates the corporate media

your suggestions are very good when it comes to trying to help people working in corporate media liberate themselves and i encourage you and other people to use them. there are some people with technical and other skills who would be useful in the cause against war and injustice, and hopefully some of them will jump ship and join that fight.

i disagree, however, with your conclusions. i will personally continue to disrupt the corporate media whenever i deem it necessary. here's why:

if not for the corporate media -- which is the propaganda arm of the goverment, and most of which is owned by military companies -- people would not be in favor of this war, and would be making a big enough roar of protest that the government would have to back down. the corporate media is thus complicit in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis which is occuring right now. they are accomplices to mass murder. they are worse than cops and worse than soldiers and worse than insanse power-hungry politicians because it is their lies and false objectivity which empowers these people to commit the heinous acts they do. corporate media is not separate from the powers-that-be that make war, cut down trees, and let people starve; corporate media is an essential part of that structure.

"In the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressors, those who are neutral side with the oppressors."
—Paolo Friere, Brasilian educator

there are no "two sides" to the issue of war. war is simply wrong. that's not an opinion or a point of view -- it is a fundamental truth. to not take a stand against war is to encourage it to happen. that's what the corporate media does. that puts them on the side of evil. i have no use with the moral relativism of the liberal/left; there is definitely right and wrong in the world, and we must fight what is wrong. hence, i will fight (nonviolently) against the corporate media as much as i can.

the time for compromise is over. we must topple the instutions that murder and wreck. they are not reformable. that is a liberal fantasy.

BTW, i don't have "fun" disrupting the corporate media. i do it because i feel compelled to and consider it my duty in defense of all life on earth.

It's a Question of Tactics not Morality 21.Mar.2003 15:06

Douglas Lain

I despise the corporate system of media control just like you. I know that this war is wrong, objectively, ethically, legally, completely wrong.

The question is one about tactics. What approach will be most effective in subverting the current system? Do we achieve our goals by hurling insults, or is deconstrunction more effective than disruption?

What are your practical reasons for continuing to act out towards the corporate media rather than more calmly taking them apart?

This is not a rhetorical question. I'm interested in understanding this strategy of disruption.

its all in the perspective 21.Mar.2003 15:55

b. peace

we must act in solidarity with all people. it is not "cops", or "journalsts" that we are dealing with, or even the "media", but people.
to say that to be nuetral is to side with oppressors, is lik bush saying you are either for america or against america. why be for or against any ideology?
ideas cant be fought.
just be for the people. when we become truly, truly, for the people, we will not need any 'ism' or ideology to follow.
who is the oppressor? the terrorist? the one who keeps your peace from you?

just be for the people. see beneath the roles we all wear. that way, talk to the media if you want, or not, if you dont want to. state your case everywhere, and lets do it intelligently whether its with words, actions, or silence. we could all stand to act/be smarter
power to all the people.

Corporate media tactics 21.Mar.2003 18:09


Last night, the corporate camera operator from channel 8 spit on my camera. For real. I was blocking access for a group of people who asked that they not film them. They continued to film. I stood in front of the camera, and was physically shoved by a thug in a brown jacket who was accompanying the camera person. He started a violent confrontation, as we were surrounded by people in a very tense situation, and he shoved me into other people. The other peole were upset and began shoving back.

The corporate media lies to us. You know that already. Additionally, they profit by demonizing US for ratings. They were looking for the most sensationalist stuff they could find to film. They were filming people who did not want to be filmed. There was a small yappy blonde woman who appeared to be with channel 6 there, doing the same thing. Several people, yes, including myself, blocked their cameras with our bodies and our hands.

As a filmmaker, I have enough respect not to actually touch their cameras. That's a real assault to a camera person, and although what they do is wrong, I don't (or at least I didn't) hold any personal animosity toward them. So I merely blocked, but never actually touched, their cameras.

Later, as I was filming, the same camera operator came up behind me and smeared his thumb across my lens. TWICE. I felt it, then saw it. It was really outrageous, because he was not blocking, he was actually vandalizing my camera. He works for a wealthy corporate media station, which can afford expensive equipment. I, on the other hand, cannot. I was holding a small, $700 camera that I spent every cent I had on. He came up and intentionally tried to destroy it. As any videographer knows, a finger scuffing across a lens can destroy it.

Fortunately, because I copwatch with that camera and have learned the necessity of being able to clean pepper spray quickly off the lens, I had a clear filter protecting it. So my initial reaction was just to laugh it off because, though he had attempted to damage my camera, he had not. Then I looked down at the lens and discovered he had spit on his thumb before rubbing it across my lens.

THESE are the corporate media people some are saying we need to be nice to. They are lying thugs who profit from other people's work and other people's pain. They are NOT our friends, as I will NOT allow them to come near me ever again. Channel 8 best bring an army of thugs next time, because they incited many people last night with their brutish, assinine behavior. All for "the big story." FUCK THE CORPORATE MEDIA.

Recognize it 21.Mar.2003 18:29

Douglas Lain

So far I'm just hearing a lot of frustration, but no reasons for disrupting.

The reporters are sometimes abusive. They smear us and our cameras.

But that doesn't answer the question. What is the best tactic for us?

A great idea but..... 21.Mar.2003 19:12

frustrated by the media

Asking the media questions i think i s a good idea and it would be fun to see the looks on their faces when you ask them a question they cant answer, but if someone really asked a tough question and made them look bad they would just edit it out and wouldnt make it on the air.

not all are enemies 21.Mar.2003 21:14


i caught a bit of the coverage of the sit-down on burnside and on channel 12. it seemed to me the reporters were on the side of the protesters. they emphasized the peacefulness of the sitters, one reporter was in the bystanding crowd that got pushed back and sounded frightened herself by the police push.

they tried to report the message of the protesters, but they had to guess. and the only thing i saw the protesters say (the standing crowd) was the chant 'this is what a police state looks like'.

you ought to thank the reporters that they kept saying this was a peaceful war protest.

if you'd had a media spokesperson you might have even got a message across. you might have had a chance to make the links you're trying to make. defend your position that this is an oil war, and that's why you're blocking traffic. (of course, that's only a guess on my part, because your message didn't get across.)

The medium is the massage 21.Mar.2003 22:52

Skwirl ominous_squirrel@hotmail.com

Unfortunately, the medium of television in its present form is not conducive to meta debates. TV news producers are not going to air footage of one protester speaking calmly about media misinformation when they have footage of another protester shoving his hand into the camera. The TV news philosophy approves trite sound bites and conflict over detailed debate and inaction.

Notice that the two most replayed incidents where a cameraman got hassled were during isolated, counterproductive, and non-peaceful events. I'm thinking of the flag burning and the broken window. Hassling the cameraman just makes these events more newsworthy and more liable to be played over and over again.

On the other hand, the news has no right to embellish isolated events as if they are common or representative of the movement at large.

I know that people are already trying to do this as much as possible, but it's important that we peacefully, verbally confront people who are using destructive tactics. Burning a flag is so fucking cliche, anyway. Fire is not a tool of the peacemaker.

The best damage control we can do is to be on-camera denouncing poorly thought out tactics while they're occuring. I saw one interview with a distraught protester following the flag burning that they rarely replayed. Interviews are boring, but (unfortunately) conflict will sell. Obviously, while you're doing this you can argue that the media will use these events against the movement.

Deconstruction works best in the written mediums. Write polite, but condemning letters to news organizations and keep on posting to Indymedia and other public forums. One major reason for the current blatant media bias is that insane conservative pressure has taught the media to cringe at the label "liberal" as if they were accused of killing puppies. We need to make them equally afraid of conservative biases.

the people are the ones who need to know 22.Mar.2003 00:10

Peter Knight peterk83@hotmail.com

When I'm out there and I yell 'fuck the corporate media,' the thrill of it is because I'm yelling it at those parasites, but it's not them that I'm hoping to reach. It's the people of this country who need to recognize that their media is corrupt. The people will change that institution, and it's them that MUST do it, because it will not reform itself just because a small segment of activists ask it to, whether we do so nicely or not. Most folks out there, don't even know that they NEED to ask for media reform. And if they do, they don't know how. The majority of people, really don't see how lied to we all are, and if they suspect it, they feel so isolated, and fucked, they just accept it as part of life. They don't know there's another way. They're the ones we need to appeal to. We have to start talking about this ALL THE TIME, with EVERYONE WE KNOW.

Yes, more media spokespersons for peace and justice actions would be VERY beneficial. And, we must ALL prepare ourselves for that task. And yes, more civil means of discourse with the media is not just seemingly beneficial, but desperately needed. I know I called them 'parasites,' and I stand by that term as being appropriate for the majority of media corporations as they now stand, but of course, it is people we're talking about, and some of them, I know for a fact, feel cheated, and torn, due to the pressure they find applied to them not to ask the powerful questions. Letters should be getting written, essays and articles in accessible periodicals as well.

So many people however, must stop when they hear 'fuck the corporate media' and wonder, What is that about? That momment of articulated rage is very powerful, and I think it has a place. If we are to feel anger at all about these atrocities, it is toward the corporate media that it must at least partly be directed. From a practical/ strategic point of veiw, the corporate media is the whole reason we're in this war. If Bush is the bullet, then they are the gun. In the forties they set regulations to prevent media monopolies from forming, and then being bought and manipulated by the government to goad the people into war. In WWII, we saw what that could do. All it's taken is seven or eight years since the massive deregulations of the mid-nineties to produce the horrors we are now witnessing. The media is one hundred percent of our struggle. And we can't be so completely consumed by the righteous and completely neccesary task of protesting this war, to forget the mission of actively pushing for media reform, everyday, in as many ways as we can. 'Fuck the cororate media,' is one rallying cry, and I beleive we need many. Ones than can be heard.

When reporters are are touting our peacefullness, and airing something contructive, like protestors 'this is what a police state looks like,' (I think that's constructive) that's great. We should all also make ourselves ready to answer questions, and look for those opportunities. But a nice word from them, as much as it might mean in terms of 'currency' in a thought deprived medium, means next to nothing that we can count on. They can't be trusted. 'Realists,' and 'liberals' think that we can work for change through the system, and to a small extent, they're right. Along the way, you make a lot of compromises. For some people, that's viable, and they do good work because they CAN, they can stomach it, and more power to them. For the rest of us, it's time to be saying 'fuck the corporate media' where people that don't know ANYTHING about this can hear it. And shout other things too. Doesn't mean we have to assult camermen. Maybe togeather we can make a difference.

to Skwirl 22.Mar.2003 09:16

what the hell can u be thinking?

You think it would be an effective tactic to denouce people's behavior in a protest, in front of cameras, just because you don't agree with it??? Are you a provacateur?

Whether you agree or disagree, what the fuck do you want to hang out that dirty laundry in front of news cameras for?? Are you a media hound? Because the result would just be the corporate media sensationalising such an event, showing over and over how "disorganized and fragmented" the peace movement is, that people are actually fighting among themselves at peace protests.

Fuck off. I may not agree with everything the more radical people do, but I at least got their backs. I'm not gonna call em out in front of news cameras, and neither should you. Fuck off. No wonder radicals hate liberals so much. At least SOME of us are learning.

Change of tactics 24.Mar.2003 04:11

Skwirl ominous_squirrel@hotmail.com

Oh please, do you label everyone you disagree with a provacatuer?

"United we stand, divided we fall." "You're either with us or against us." That's Bush's rhetoric. And, yes, there's a lot to be said for solidarity, but what if it turns out that the philosophy of "diversity of tactics" doesn't work?

All the powers that be have to do is seed every protest with a few provacatuers who engage in violent protest and there's nothing we can do about it while our public image is ripped to hell. For all I know, this is exactly what's happening.

I'm not talking about physically confronting people you disagree with. I'm talking about opening a real time dialog during an event. I have seen this tactic in action. You say, "hey man, that's not cool here."

Perhaps you and I disgree about what is and what isn't cool, but certainly you must draw a line somewhere?

Confronting vandals and confronting flag burners are obviously two different things. Flag burning is valid expression, but I question the peaceful intentions of anyone who engages in it. For many people, burning a flag is surely as much of an incitement to violence as burning a cross on their lawn. I have a First Amendment right to announce my displeasure at this tactic during an event.

I don't know if there's a cost to "airing our dirty laundry" but I know for sure that there's a cost to not airing it. Many people who are otherwise sympathetic to our cause are alienated by their perception of our groupthink. What is the tangible cost to the movement when minor infighting is seen occuring? We're only human. We should be expected to have internal disagreements. If we never have internal disagreements, then we will never be able to learn from ourselves about what does and does not work and we will continually be seen rehashing the same old tactics and slogans.