On the show this week we interview renowned filmmaker and journalist, John Pilger about his new film, The War You Don't See, Iran and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. We then turn our attention to the chequered transcripts coming from an Arabic-language translation service in the US.
John Pilger is a multi-award winning war correspondent, filmmaker and author. From his very first documentary about the Vietnam War, he has been challenging convention and changing opinion. His irreverent coverage has not only held Western powers to account but also the journalistic complacency, ignorance or inability that many argue, allowed the Bush and Blair governments to go to war, ostensibly unchallenged.
His latest film, The War You Don't See is no exception. It questions the media's role in the lead up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also questions the coverage we seeing today on Iran and asks whether those mistakes are being repeated. It is a fascinating film and perfect Listening Post fodder. We sat down with Pilger to discuss the film, the media and get his take on the WikiLeaks phenomenon.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an organisation set up in the US that specialises in providing translations of Arabic-language broadcasts. It has become a useful tool for many journalists covering the Middle East with a limited, or in many cases, zero understanding of Arabic.
So in its purpose lies its problem. MEMRI is a source for journalists that do not understand Arabic but because they do not understand Arabic, they cannot validate the source. When you consider that the source is the brainchild of a former Israeli intelligence officer and has been caught selectively translating Arabic broadcasts that would reflect negatively on the Muslim world, the problem increases tenfold. As the Listening Post's Jason Mojica found out, cherry-picking soundbytes can often lead to the bigger picture getting lost in translation.
We are coming to the end of the year now so you will find a couple of 2010 retrospective videos popping up online. Our Video of the Week is the best we have found so far. It is called Zeitgeist 2010: Year in Review and showcases the most searched news items on Google this year. They paired the video with an emotive track from the American band, OneRepublic. Together it leaves you the feeling that - although there is a lot of hardship out there – it is a pretty good life. Make sure you catch the show next week when we do our own recap of the biggest media stories of 2010.
This episode of the Listening Post can be seen from Friday, December 24, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1230; Saturday: 0630; Sunday: 2030; Monday: 0300; Tuesday: 1400, 2330; Wednesday: 1900; Thursday: 0030, 0730.