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“News of the World” Not Just a British Problem
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper
By RAY HANANIA — England has always had its share of sleazy, tabloid publications. Chicago only has one. But the truth is that the news media in general has been sliding down a slippery slope of ethical challenges and hypocrisy.
In London, the News of the World is the world’s largest circulation English language newspaper. (What does that say about the English speaking world, by the way?) A few years back, its reporters started violating the rights of the public, stealing private information to fuel their sensational and often inaccurate news reporting.
On Sunday, the newspaper, with more than 3.5 million circulation, closed, ordered shuttered by its owner, Rupert Murdoch. But the News of the World is not just a British problem. It is an American problem, too. Murdoch, the Australian media mogul, not only owned the scandal-plagued News of the World, he also owns FOX Cable News.
See any similarities here?
FOX Cable News is the yellow journalism of the broadcast media. Its reporting is inaccurate and driven by politics. The person who heads up the station is a longtime Republican political consultant, Roger Ailes.
Murdoch has built an empire by doing two things. He feeds on the public’s racial frustrations and panders to the conservative right. His news reporting is driven by politics, not facts. But that practice is increasingly being shared by other media, including the Chicago Sun-Times, which Murdoch once owned and then sold to Conrad Black, the British convicted felon.
The former Murdoch newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, is teetering on an ethical and financial brink. It gutted the once proud community newspaper, the Daily Southtown, and has merged it in to near oblivion. The newspaper again closed its offices and relocated what remains of its newspaper staff to a small office even further south.
The tragedy here is not the damage the Murdoch scandal has caused to his British media empire or the deterioration of quality news reporting in Chicago. Chicago is just a reflection of the collapse of media professional morals — the media today is more political than the politicians. No, the real tragedy is that as the media collapses and loses credibility, the public has no reliable sources for truth, justice or objectivity.
The public is fast losing confidence in the media, mainly because of the unethical conduct of the major mainstream news media and the conduct of media barons like Murdoch and Black.
Even more tragic is that as the mainstream media credibility collapses, community newspapers continue to struggle, punished not because they haven’t been doing their jobs, but because the failures of the larger mainstream media continues to impact on the public and the community press.
The public can do something about this, but they won’t. They are in an oppressive economic headlock that won’t be resolved any time soon.
The mainstream media loves to point fingers of blame at everyone, except themselves. In truth, it’s the mainstream media that is behind much of our society’s problems. And as a public, we are too distracted with our own economic hardships to demand media accountability.
The only real choice for the public is to dump the mainstream media and invest in the community media, which is dedicated to reporting on the news that is truly important. Not the world, not foreign countries, not even the president. But on you.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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