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media criticism | police / legal

An Alternative View of Corporate Media

In all of the discussion of the local corporate media, I feel that one important point is missing: there's a reason they work for a shitty local affiliate. They're not particularly savvy or well informed. I wouldn't be surprised if their worldview comes directly from their own consumption of corporate media. In short, they believe this stuff. So what does this mean? It means that, if we keep a properly mistrustful attitude, we can manipulate them to our advantage at times.
Most of these men (and women) are pretty faces that graduated from college with a degree in communications. They're used to covering bar mitzvahs and community picnics. So when they come to demonstrations, they're not in their element. They generally operate under the (misguided) assumption that the cops are there to protect them. I've seen them, time and time again, cowering next to police lines, making small talk with cops and looking fearfull if their more than 15 feet away from a cop.

However, from time to time, they get a little dose of reality. This normally looks something like what happened to the channel 12 guy. He accidentally got in the way of an act of police brutality and was brutally beaten and arrested himself. The fact is that, no matter how privileged you are, if you interfere in the business of the system, you will be treated without regard to that privilege (just look at all the brave men and women who took pepper spray and clubs despite their middle class status).

Of course, as the Channel 12 example shows, the higher ups quickly regain control and revert to business as usual. But this should give us some food for thought. There's no reason to be nice to the corporate media (they're complete tools after all). But on the other hand, we don't need to be confrontational either. We should still block shots that might (for whatever reason) might make us look bad. However, we should try to alienate them less than the cops are. Remember, these people are human. From time to time, they act like it.

Disclaimer: these are just my thoughts. I didn't actually see the Chanel 12 incident. If people can explain why this strategy is bad, I'd like to hear it. The fact is, I don't really know how to act around the corporate media myself. The discussion a few days ago was great, but I feel this latest incident was particularly instructive.
regarding corporate media 23.Mar.2003 12:02

deva

I have been regularly standing in front of, or putting my hand in front of corporate media cameras over the past few weeks.

I also spoke to one camera person on Friday night and told that person that I have no personal animosity towards him, that I will not touch him, nor have intent to hurt him, and that yes, I will continue to block the cameras. (which btw is completely legal)

We all are conditioned by the patterns of society. We have to work constantly to step free of this conditioning. It is ingrained in our heads that corporate media is just there and filming. This should at least be looked at and one can ask the question why do I allow them to videotape me whenever they choose and at the time they choose.

Part of reclaiming ones own power is to tell them no. I have been repeatedly assaulted by corporate media camera persons and their hired guards. The camera persons generally get enraged when they are blocked because they have assumed some sort of right to do as they please. I have simply stood in front of the camera and been pushed and hit and yelled at by them.

This arrogance they display is part of the problem. They must also be taught to respect peoples wishes. They have no right to videotape. It is our right to decide yes or no and we have the law on our side. Use it. Stop them from taping when you dont want them to.

Remember, their agenda is not to tell your story, it is to fulfill the corporate bottom line. There may be decent people working the grunt jobs of holding cameras etc, but they are essentially enslaved. Speak to them if you wish, treat them to the basic standard of respect any human being deserves, better when they earn it, and keep it clear in the mind that it is your choice to stop them from taping and that that choice needs to be exercised on behalf of humanity.

If you look at the history and literature about Nazi Germany, it is clearly illuminated that it was their propaganda machine that convinced a generally decent population to go along with the atrocities that were committed. That is what the U.S. corporate media is doing today. It is a propaganda machine that the nazi-s would marvel at. It is the greatest weapon of mass destruction in the world today. Wittingly or unwittingly, all the corporate media people on the street are facilitating that.

Many activists have still not seen this clearly, still watch the TV and read the paper, thinking that they somehow are immune to its manipulations. I maintain that they are not immune and that it is an addiction. Corporate media is responsible for fostering such addiction in order to sell you stuff and to keep you addicted and dependent, regardless of whether it is healthy for the individual or society. It is not healthy. It is poison and many people do not see the link between poor mental health and this poison they subject themselves to. So even many activists are still addicted to the offerings of the corporate media, whether 'news' or 'entertainment' shows. If we hope to free the greater society, we must free our own minds.

Try walking away from it all for some months. The mind will be alot clearer, the addiction will be very apparent and the necessity of doing something to counter it clearly understood.

Trying to find balance again 23.Mar.2003 19:39

Anonymous

I know. After the past few days, I'm just whirling in confusion. I was so sick by the news that bombing had begun in Iraq, that when I went to the streets that night, I didn't intend to be confrontational with anyone. I just wanted to be there, to do something, anything, to show that I did not support the war.

But when I got there, emotions were so high, the situation was so tense, that I found myself just consumed with rage. I was very confrontational. I saw the corporate media acting like asses, so I acted likewise. I saw the cops acting like assholes, so I started screaming at them.

I'm not apologizing, so much as acknowledging that I want to be done with that. The police were outrageously brutal. Some of them seemed to enjoy it. They, too, were full of rage. The corporate media people were very disrespectful. They were there to get their big story, and they didn't care what they had to do to get it. And then they were arrogant. When I blocked a camera, I was actually told by one of them, "I'm sure you're just doing this for the media." (For the media? Baby, i AM the media.)Yeh, that explains why I'm wearing a mask and putting my hand in front of the lens when you shove it in my face anyway.

But there was this one incident. I was standing there on Burnside, watching heavily armed robot men with small penises and big weapons shoving people around. They rolled up in their GI joe mobile, with their metal and leather, and began beating people up. It was so sickening. I was being held at bay by a line of robocops in their impersonal face sheilds. A few of them were making mocking comments, trying to incite the crowd. Most of them were not responding to anyone at all, just staring blankly behind their nitesticks, waiting for anyone to get outta line. Behind them, people were being brutally assauted by their cohorts.

I started screaming at them for all I was worth. I hated their fucking GUTS out. I really did. Worthless, fascist demons haunting our streets. Like the ice cream man who is found to be a pedophile. I began thinking about a sculpture I once saw at the red and black. it was a huge cop, one half all officer friendly, and the other half all rioted up. The sign hanging on the wall near it said, "Who do you call when the cops are beating you up?"

This is what I was thinking about, as I screamed at them and called them every name I knew. I looked them all in the face as I screamed, and most of them either sneered or ignored me. Then I screamed, "Why are you doing this??? These are your neighbors!!! Many of them are high school children!" I was looking in the face of an african american cop, wondering why an african american would want to be a cop when african americans have been living in the police state for so long. And I was screaming about how wrong this was.

He looked back at me, and for a moment our eyes met. His eyes had a look of absolute pain in them, and when I admonished him for going after peaceful people who were only sitting there holding candles, he very slightly nodded. It was almost imperceptable. But it was there. He didn't look away. He kept looking at me like that. Ashamed for them all. Knowing I was right. In that moment, something happened. I was in the middle of screaming at him for all I was worth, and my voice just trailed off. I realized he already knew this. My voice wasn't falling on deaf ears after all. The cops weren't ALL faceless, souless monsters after all. Certainly most of them were acting like it, but this one person was human after all. It didn't make what he was doing right. He was still participating in the violent repression of his own people, the people of Portland. But I realized the hatred had gone from me. I saw him as another human being, trying to figure this out just as I was. Suddenly, I just wanted to go home and lie down.

I was sick the whole way home. I thought about yelling at the corporate media people, yelling at the cops, and I realized I had been no better than they had. I was sick, and I hoped they were too. I've been home all weekend, recovering and trying to regain my sense of balance. I don't know what I will do the next time I am confronted with snotty, agressive, disrespectful corporate cameras. I'm sure I will block them, but perhaps I will be less personal about it. I don't know what I will do about the fascist cops patrolling the streets and the powerful Portland business cartel that controls them. But I will remember next time, that they are human too. Although they are wrong, although I will not take their abuse without a fight, I do not want to become like them.