Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
When it comes to mainstream media and the Occupy movement, there is, of course, some actual reporting. But then there’s what at least appears to be two things happening, sometimes overlapping: a negative spin of some sort, when the media seems to be doing exactly what they’re fairly often accused of doing — the bidding of the “1%.” But regularly, at least some members of the media have found themselves sharing, with Occupiers, the unhappy attention of riot geared police.
For an Occupy take on MSM reporting, check out this post. I mentioned it yesterday, but it’s worth another look. An excerpt:
… the corporate media increasingly dismiss Occupy Wall Street as a dying movement.
The corporate-funded political status quo, including corporate-funded news coverage, benefits the 1% at the expense of the 99%.
The OWS’ post then “debunks” four media “myths” — “OWS’s numbers are dwindling”; “was weakened by the eviction of our camps”; “has lost its purpose and focus”; and that “The 2012 U.S. elections are eroding OWS’s relevance” — by
… examining a few of the major Occupy stories and actions of the past month that the corporate media would rather dismiss than cover …
When media coverage is perceived to be biased, it should be called out. So, of course, should unlawful restrictions on the media. From Press TV:
‘The attitude towards people covering the Occupy movement was filled with contempt in the same way that the attitude towards occupiers was driven by contempt, Danny Schechter, editor of Mediachannel.org, told Press TV’s U.S. Desk … .
The crackdown ‘has become a national story because the same pattern seems to have taken place in many places.’
It isn’t as if the media hasn’t let their concerns be known. For example, via Capital New York:
The New York Times fired off another letter to the Police Department … on behalf of 13 New York-based news organizations about police treatment of the press over the last several months.
The first letter, sent back in November during the height of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, resulted in a meeting with NYPD brass and ‘stepped up’ efforts on the part of the department’s public information office to train officers in working with the media.
But in today’s letter … the news organizations, which also include the New York Post, Daily News, Associated Press, Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg News, the National Press Photographers Association, several local TV affiliates and others, say problems have persisted.
‘There have been other reports of police officers using a variety of tactics ranging from inappropriate orders directed at some journalists to physical interference with others, who were covering newsworthy sites and events,’ the letter reads.
I’ve written earlier about the latest Press Freedom Index, but obviously it’s related here. From Common Dreams:
While the United States certainly hasn’t descended into the ranks of the most oppressive regimes, the watchdog group Reporters without Borders observes that in 2011 the political barriers and outright attacks facing reporters had led to a steep drop in the rankings-27 places down, to number 47:
In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 [journalists] were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation.
The most high-profile violations of press freedom took place during the Occupy protests, as reporters were abused by police and otherwise stonewalled by authorities.
Restrictions, intimidation and more aren’t only related to Occupy coverage, however, as the Common Dreams piece continues.
… while the Occupy-related arrests were a major factor in the lower ranking, the organization also noted failures to address other longstanding press freedom concerns.
Reporters Without Borders’ (RWB) D.C. Director Delphine Halgand told In These Times, ‘this big decline [in ranking] is also due to old concerns we have and which weren’t addressed by the Obama administration.’ These include excessive limits on access to government information (despite the guarantees of the Freedom of Information Act), the lack of a legal protections for confidential journalistic sources; and threats to Internet freedom posed by the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation.
And from Intrepid Report:
… As WMR has reported in past articles, the National Security Agency (NSA) has maintained a series of ‘mug shots’ of journalists it suspects have sources inside the NSA. Often, NSA personnel throught (sic) to have been speaking to journalists are called into NSA’s ‘Q’ security group and questioned on whether they have spoken to various journalists. Along with the names of the journalists, are photographs, described by NSA insiders, as ‘mug shots,’ likely culled from the Internet.
One question that can asked about all of this, as it impacts both Occupiers and media: who benefits from the restriction and spinning and use of excessive police force?
(Freedom of Speech poster via Occupy Design)