Because real events in much of the world, especially the developing parts of it, reveal the ugliness of the west’s pursuit of its interests, the real job of foreign reporters is to equivocate and obfuscate – in fact, to betray the truth. “Presentation” is not concerned with clarity and generating interest, as De Botton assumes; it is designed to conceal the true goals of western foreign policy.
via How Alain de Botton plays safe with the news | Jonathan Cook’s Blog.
Jonathan Cook once again takes on this strange habit most of us have of making excuses for mainstream media’s mediocrity, but without ever confronting the real political and economic forces that explain it. Instead, there is a propensity to lay the blame on individuals and departments, and to claim that this is mostly a question of the pursuit of the market or the quick sensationalist sale.
Jonathan Cook argues instead that it is part of the plan – the obfuscations and confusions that are ingrained in the way news is reported, particularly foreign news, is part of its design. It is meant to veil the hidden hand of Western political and economic interests and instead present the world, and our actions there, under the mask of ‘human rights’ or ‘violations of international law’ or ‘asiatic despotism’ or other such legalistic or culturalist explanation.
What is erased is our involvement, and hence, our reason for the interest. At any one time there are only certain news stories, conflicts, or pathologies that capture the media’s attention. The question then is, why? What drives a certain prioritization, and what drives it away. Why Darfur at a certain time, and then why not Darfur today?
Photojournalism has kept silent on this front, choosing instead to engage in vacuous and trivial debates about social media platforms, digital cameras and other such nonsense. It has revealed itself to not be a serious journalistic enterprise by refusing to engage with the serious questions of journalism in our time. Photojournalists seem to be unaware of the role they play in the priorities and structures of imperialism, nationalism and corporation interests. In fact, with only pictures to offer, they are the perfect foils for an attempt to reduce a complex political and social issue to a series of hysterical and simplistic generalizations, whether cultural or other.
There is a debate and a discussion completely absent from photojournalism and I remain confused why this is so. There isn’t a photojournalism festival, competition, reward, community, or secret society, that seems to be prepared to take itself seriously and engage in the hard questions of power and news, politics and media, corporatization and political agendas, imperialism and capitalism etc. and how photojournalism has been a hand-maiden to it, or cab be a means of understanding and questioning it.