On The Listening Post this week: Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, faces the UK’s Iraq war inquiry as the media faces tough questions of their own. We then visit a family that has been personally affected by the media massacre in the Philippines.
We begin this week with a public inquiry, which felt more like a court trial, when Tony Blair faced questions on how and why he took the decision to send British forces to Iraq. The video of Blair’s testimony was streamed live by the inquiry and carried on television and newspaper websites in Britain and abroad.
The reviews of Blair’s performance were mixed and there was a clear consensus that the people querying him were either too deferential, ill-equipped to deal with a politician skilled in skirting tough questions or effectively hamstrung by the inquiry’s limited terms of reference.
But what about the media reporting the story? Many of the news organisations have their own questions to answer about why they backed a pre-emptive war, the basis of which, Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, proved to be untrue. We take a look at the reporting by the media of a story that the media had a hand in writing.
Philippine’s media massacre
In part two of The Listening Post, we pick up from last week’s report on the political massacre that took place in the Philippines just over two months ago.
The massacre claimed the lives of 31 journalists who got caught up in a shootout, when paramilitaries loyal to one clan in the province of Maguindanao gunned down a crowd of their political opponents.
This week, Simon Ostrovsky looks at the personal fallout of the massacre for one family, and the culture of impunity that is created when so many killers of journalists in the Philippines get away with murder.
In this week’s Newsbytes: Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, is being accused of cracking down on media that opposed him; two bloggers in Iran could face the death penalty; Arab ministers are not happy with US satellite control on channels; the owner of the UK’s Evening Standard newspaper, Alexander Lebedev, is ready to make his next purchase by buying the Independent newspaper; and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, takes to the airwaves to win the public over.
Finally, there is a certain rhythm to television news that viewers have come to recognise, even expect. For instance, you know we are approaching the end of our broadcast, when I say “finally”. Individual news reports have a rhythm and a few clichés of their own. The people who make a show called Newswipe for the BBC in Britain decided to deconstruct a stereotypical news report, to show you a few tricks of the television trade. With something like three quarters of a million hits on youtube, it is a tailor made web video of the week. Watch it here.
This episode of The Listening Post can be seen from Friday, February 5, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1230; Saturday: 1030, 2230; Sunday: 0300, 1930; Monday: 0030; Tuesday: 0630, 1630; Wednesday: 0130, 1430; Thursday: 0330, 2330.