On The Listening Post this week we look at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's media blitz in New York: there were interviews, press conferences and photo-ops but back in Iran the media remain tight lipped and under pressure. We also explore the challenges of reporting in Japan in an interview with Jake Adelstein, an American journalist who has made Tokyo his turf for the past 20 years.
The media spotlight was on New York this week where Ahmadinejad delivered his annual speech before the UN General Assembly. The American media lined up to talk to him but what we heard in those interviews was ostensibly the same rhetoric we have been hearing for the last five years. Ahmadinejad spoke about his denial of the Holocaust, sanctions on his country and, predictably, answered questions with questions.
Did the American media play into this politician's hands? Did they miss a golden opportunity to grill the president on other issues in Iran, like human rights and media freedom? We turned our spotlight toward Iran, where the government still rules over the media with an iron fist, free speech is still curtailed and the plight of one famous blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, has just gotten worse. The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi reports on Ahmadinejad's media "red herring" blitz of the US and the media reality on the ground in Iran.
Jake Adelstein is an American journalist with a resume that does not read like most. To start with he has spent the last two decades in Japan, working in a bureaucratic and complex news environment. He became the first foreign journalist allowed access to the exclusive Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, where Japanese journalists go to get inside information on breaking police stories. But even with this insider access, there is a strict protocol and decorum to be followed. If journalists want to remain in the official loop they have to very careful about how they tell their stories, and when.
It is not just government authorities that journalists in Japan have to worry about. There is a far more sinister threat coming from Tokyo's underworld. The Yakuza - Japan's equivalent to the Mafia - keep a watchful eye over what gets said in the media, and more worryingly, who says it. We spoke to Adelstein about his time in Japan, how he managed to forge a successful career as a journalist there and some of the enemies he made along the way.
Quick hits from the media world: Two weeks ago we told you that the smear campaign on Russian state-run TV against the mayor of Moscow was a sure sign that he had fallen out with the Kremlin. We were right, he has just been fired; there is a new iPhone application that tracks Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Territories; the Pentagon buys and destroys the first 9,500 copies of an American military intelligence officer's book about Afghanistan; and the Obama administration is reportedly preparing new internet regulations that have similarities to proposed laws in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
This show's Internet Video of the Week is an amazing piece of work from Kirsten Lepore, an American animator. Time consuming and timely, it shows a relationship that is formed between a sandman and snowman. They establish a trade route using messages (and goods) in a bottle. The video - like the bottle - contains a number of messages, opposites attract, trade is good but we not sure what the last one is. What do you think? We hope you enjoy the show.
This episode of The Listening Post aired from Friday, October 1, 2010.