“News of the World” Not Just a British Problem

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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

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

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.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. 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

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