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The Pakistan aid shortfall
Is the media to blame for the lack of relief aid being generated in the wake of the floods?
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2010 16:02 GMT

On The Listening Post this week we explore whether news coverage of the floods in Pakistan is partially to blame for the lack of relief aid being generated and we look at the media's role in the overthrow of the Iranian president in 1953.

Did you donate any money to Haiti after the earthquake? Have you donated money to Pakistan to help victims of the floods there? A lot of people can answer yes to the first question, but not so many to the second.

What was it about these floods that stopped people dipping into their pockets? As always on The Listening Post we look at the coverage of this disaster. We have seen wide shots of saturated fields, families trapped on crudely fashioned lifeboats, villagers left homeless, starving and without clean drinking water. But even with all this we have not been nearly as charitable as we were after the earthquake in Haiti.

Our News Divide this week asks why. What is it about the images of this disaster that fail to evoke the same compassion that others have done? Was it the way the media told the story or are there more complex, perhaps darker reasons behind it?

Fifty-seven years ago this month there was a coup d'etat in Iran. The democratically elected president, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was overthrown in a coup backed by the US and UK's intelligence agencies.

Like many issues in the Middle East, this one centred on oil and the media played a major role. When the West learnt that Mosaddegh was planning to nationalise Iran's oil they had to find a way to get rid of him without going to war - a conflict that threatened a nuclear holocaust if Russia got involved.

To do this the CIA and MI6 intelligence agencies solicited the help of Iran's media. At one point 70 per cent of the country’s media were said to be on their payroll. Almost daily, fabricated and highly damaging reports were published about the president all designed to swing public opinion against Mosaddegh. So when the signal came for the coup to go ahead - from the UK's BBC radio service - it was met with very little opposition from the Iranian people.

The Listening Post's Salah Khadr reports on what came to be known as the world's first media coup and how the Western world's duplicity is still rippling through Iran today.

Media hits from around the world: Chinese authorities ban local journalists from covering the mudslides in that country, but foreign journalists struggled to get access as well; a former Israeli soldier posts some revelatory photos of her posing with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on Facebook; and Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange gets complimented by Fidel Castro, criticised by a media rights group, applies for source protection under the Swedish constitution and takes a job as a columnist with one of their daily newspapers.

Finally, if you are a fan of fast pace TV shows like 24 then you have probably noticed that the characters in them do not seem to suffer from the same mundane challenges we do. You do not see Jack Bauer searching for a parking spot or taking a bathroom break. It is a concept that did not slip by the people at collegehumor.com.They took an already stressful situation and peppered it with a day-to-day frustration that could even push someone like agent Bauer over the edge.

This episode of The Listening Post aired from Friday, August 20, 2010.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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