No, I'm not referring to Vietnam in 1975 but rather the Non-Alignment Movement - "the idea of a non-aligned news pool, to present the world through the eyes of Third World journalists to counterbalance the political bias and cultural prejudice of the Western wires and syndicated news services." There is are interesting opinions on today's International Herald Tribune and AsiaViews (Bangkok Post) and a more indepth article on its development on Inter Press News Agency.
In principle, the motivation for creating an alternative international news network was: "Newly independent and developing countries generally were not big enough or rich enough to have their own international news networks, so why not band together and provide their own news to each rather than read the Western accounts of how backward, undemocratic or just weird they all were?"
The problem was that the idealism transformed the network into a one-sided feel good engine exclusively covering positive stories while ignoring the critical political and social issues that many of the countries were steeped in. Furthermore, ironically, some of the greatest supporters of the initiative were nations notorious for their own supression of media freedom.
"Unfortunately, the idealism foundered on the rocks of reality and cynicism. It spawned a concept known as "development journalism," a kind of "good news" journalism focused on progress, not disasters, and "development" rather than political issues. This sounded nice and the advocates were able to raise money from the United Nations and elsewhere to further the cause.
Less admirably, authoritarian governments latched on to development journalism as a way of diverting attention from politics and a free press which "obstructed development." The Marcos regime in the Philippines was particularly supportive."
The Non-Alignment Movement was resurrected from the dead last week by Malysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as a proposal for a Non-aligned News Network (NNN). And like before, some of the first vocal supporters of the initiative were Myanamar, Sudan and Syria who largely receive regular international criticism for their media supression.
"It is a useful tool but not credible as an entity because its participants range from lively, independent papers in India, Thailand and Indonesia to government mouthpieces of China, Vietnam and Singapore, where officials boast of not having an independent press.
If the proposed organization were to be an independent agency funded by NAM and staffed by top journalists from NAM members, well and good. But it will not be. It will be just another way of recycling propaganda from state controlled entities. "
It will be interesting to see how this develops. Even if the reincarnated network is never realized, it's failure may provide valuable insight into non-western media.
Posted by on December 9, 2005 10:49 AM | Permalink