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Listening Post
Fear incorporated
We examine the phenomenon of Islamophobia in the US media and the people behind it.
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2011 11:29

This week on Listening Post: The ongoing narrative of fear in the US media. Plus, publisher Hameed Haroon on Pakistan and the dangers of reporting the country.

Last week we looked at the performance of the US news media in decade following the 9/11 attacks. A big part of that story was the role the media played in creating a climate of fear in the US. This week we go a step further and look at the phenomenon of Islamophobia in the media - the people behind it, the organisations paying for it and the news outlets pedalling it.

The Centre for American Progress recently published a study it called 'Fear Incorporated'. It looked at the voices pushing the anti-Islam agenda in the media one sound bite at a time. Then it looked at how those voices were getting on the air and staying there by following the money trail. It turns out $42 million can buy a lot of airtime.

Quick hits from the media world: An Iraqi journalist is shot dead on the eve of an anti-government protest he helped organise; Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live) in Cairo is shut down and its staff arrested by the ruling Egyptian military; Twitter, the micro blogging site, announces it will be supporting five new Asian languages; and there was a rather bizarre Twitter spat between the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and the spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan was featured in a US newspaper this week but it had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden's hideout, or the souring bilateral relations. Instead it was a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal paid for by the Pakistani government to try and revamp the country's image in the West.

But that ad could just as well have been directed at readers within its own borders – especially at Pakistani journalists. Seventy-four journalists have been murdered since 1994 making Pakistan the most dangerous country on earth for the media.

We spoke to a man who has been at the centre of that media scene for over 30 years. Hameed Haroon is the chief executive officer of the Dawn media group, which has extensive holdings, both in television and in print. We spoke to him about what conditions are like for journalists in Pakistan, the murder of Saleem Shahzad, a journalist who dared to criticise the country's intelligence service, and the explosion of new media outlets in the country.    

Ever since hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York, the conspiracy theories have circulated questioning the official narrative and implicating the Bush administration complicity in the attacks. The guys at the hugely popular satirical news network 'theonion.com' had an interesting take on the notion: If you were one the people behind the attack, how would you feel if the conspiracy theorists started stealing your thunder? So they pitted one against the other on their broadcast and we have made it our Internet Video of the Week.

 

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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Al Jazeera
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