The Listening Post

Remembering Chile’s 9/11

Forty years after the military coup against President Salvador Allende, the Chilean media finally speak out.

On this week’s Listening Post: Media, memory and mea culpas in Chile. And Norway’s new, slow, reality TV fad.

Chile has just marked the 40th anniversary of the military coup that ousted the democratically-elected President Salvador Allende, replacing him with Augusto Pinochet, a dictator who would rule the country for the next 18 years.

Over the decades, the anniversary has come and gone with little mention in Chile’s media but this year was different. Mainstream news outlets unleashed a deluge of memory, breaking through the previously self-imposed limits of what television channels would say and show about the Pinochet era and their apparent complicity in his dictatorship.

A notable exception in the current coverage – conspicuous in its silence – was Chile’s oldest newspaper, El Mercurio, once a CIA funded publication that launched a media campaign against Allende in the lead up to the coup. No mea culpas there. We start the show this week in Santiago, with Chile’s own 9/11 – September 11, 1973.

Newsbytes from around the world: South America’s largest news organisation, Globo, apologises for the role it played in Brazil’s dictatorship; in Syria, two international journalists have been released by a group they describe as “Islamist bandits” and President Barack Obama goes on a media blitz, appearing on more channels in one day than any of his predecessors; Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sat down with veteran journalist, Charlie Rose, for an hour-long interview; and journalist Barrett Brown becomes the latest American to face a lengthy prison sentence for publishing classified US documents online.

This week’s feature: TV audiences around the world would expect that live coverage of a train ride, seven hours of it, might contain some sort of drama – a hostage crisis, a pending collision with another train, or even just a celebrity on board – but not in Norway.

A few years back, the country’s public TV channel, NRK, broadcast such a journey to a surprisingly receptive audience. It spawned a new kind of reality television, one that is breaking all the rules of TV engagement – no storyline, no script, no drama, no climax – and if it sounds boring, that is because it is. The Listening Post‘s Marcela Pizarro went to Oslo to find out why Norwegians are tuning in to Slow TV.

While the world’s politicians deliberate over intervention in Syria, the US-based comedy group, Second City Network, has begun its own initiative to help US President Barack Obama on his way, using the internet phenomenon known as crowdfunding. The group has posted a fake ad asking Americans to donate to their kickstarter campaign, “The Americans for Whatever Barack Obama Wants” and all they are asking for a is mere $1.6tn. Although the pitch, “Help Kickstart World War III” already has more than one-and-a-half million hits online, we thought that we should do our bit by making it our Web 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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