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the listening post
Colombia's election and the media
Was the media used as a pawn in a well planned election campaign?
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2010 14:58 GMT

On The Listening Post this week, we look at the media's role in the Colombian election and The Washington Post's two-year investigation into what they call "Top Secret America".

When a country votes for a new president there is usually an interesting media angle in it for us. That was certainly the case in the election of Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos. President Santos comes from a family that has a major say in what gets said in the Colombian media. There are two major news channels and two major newspapers in the country and the Santos family controls one of each.

It almost seemed too convenient that unfavourable stories about opposition candidates started popping up in the country's media just before voters went to the polls. The election was also portrayed as a neck and neck race but after the ballots were counted we learned that it was anything but.

So with all the speculation and misreporting that went on, critics now argue that the media was used as a pawn in a well planned election campaign. Our News Divide this week looks at some of the coverage in the lead up to the election and tries to assess whether or not there was a political agenda in the media.

Media hype began to build in the days before The Washington Post published Top Secret America, a two-year investigation into the US government's outsourcing of intelligence work to private companies across the country. Some asked what affect it would have on national security, others could not wait to get a glimpse into the clandestine world of secret intelligence.

When the report did come out opinion was, again, divided. There were those who marveled at the scope of it and just how big the industry had become and there were those who thought that the newspaper had stopped short of a true investigative tour de force.

Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing was in Washington when the story broke. He caught up with The Washington Post's Dana Priest and spoke to her about the investigation, the reaction to it and whether the task could have only been achieved by an institution like The Washington Post.

In our Newsbytes: Allegations of media censorship in Rwanda during the lead up to the presidential election; the Pentagon bars Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings from embedding with US troops in Afghanistan; a documentary on Israeli TV is accused of misleading its audience; and at The Hague, British supermodel Naomi Campbell puts the four-year long trial of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, back into the media spotlight.

Succinctly summarising your 35 favourite feature films into a two-minute animation is no easy task. Trying to name all 35 films in our video of the week is also no easy task either. We think we got to about 19 but cannot be sure. There are some classics in there; Singing in the Rain, Taxi Driver, One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Clockwork Orange, The Untouchables to name just a few. It is called 35mm, which is also the make of camera used in most feature films. See how many you can get. We hope you enjoy the show.

This episode of The Listening Post aired from Friday, August 13, 2010.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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