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Piers Robinson responds to What Happened To Academia? alerts

 
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David Edwards
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Post Post subject: Piers Robinson responds to What Happened To Academia? alerts Reply with quote

Much of your initial reaction was clearly driven by the PR around the book release. I have no control over what journalists write and and there is a good deal of selectivity there in terms of giving a good news spin and PR departments do what they do. But, anyone who reads the book and the published articles, it is clear that we are providing an analysis which by and large supports the elite-driven model of media-state relations (which includes Herman and Chomsky as well as many other critical scholars [which is why we did not talk only about Herman and Chomsky). It is important to not quote us based upon some PR release or the particular words a journalist picked up on.

I'll be quite robust in response to the Zinn jibe. Compared to the analysis provided by many other major studies (Cardiff, Tumber and Palmer etc), and also the kind of analysis provided by Pilger, we go much further in documenting the key factors that lead to a failure in media independance in war-time ... in fact I don't know of any other study that evaluates and confirms the range of key factors that lead to a breakdown in media independence as our study does. For some, this might be dry, scholarly distraction ... but understanding why media independence fails is the first step to finding ways of changing the current situation. So, I continue to be surprised at why you do not welcome the study as a thorough going evaluation of the multiple reasons why most journalists fail in wartime. A lot of this works with the factors identified by H&C ... and we quote them ... so we are not marginalizing them!

At the same time, coverage of the war was not uniform ... we can certainly spend a long time debating how far the some media were critical and whether it was enough and it is this which lies at the heart of the specific points about measurement that we have been arguing over; but simply understanding that there were important variations as well as establishing why that occurred is also part of developing the kind of knowledge that can lead to change. Even if CH4 and the Mirror were NOT doing enough, the fact that they were doing something different from the predictions of the elite-driven model demands investigation in order to understand why, if only to explore ways of building upon that.

There is a final thing to keep in mind. Criticism of media which presents ALL media as ALWAYS reinforcing elite positions is frequently criticised and disregarded by the bulk of scholars/commentators etc. It is so easy to pick holes in the analysis and then use that to dismiss the entire analysis. I have seen this happen time and time again as scholars, politicians etc smugly reject the Propaganda model ... and I have heard this of medialens ... accusations of 'simplicity' are the terms of abuse levelled at you; just as you levelled the 'trivia' abuse at us ... it's good to avoid this kind of mud slinging. Back to my point, our analysis, by making sure that we do some kind of justice to the nuances and variations in coverage, whilst at the same time confirming the importance of the major constraints, means not only that our study is a more accurate picture of the media, but it also insulates us against the 'easy knock 'em down' type arguments that are usually successful at dissuading many people of the merits of the elite-driven model. I will bet you that the same technique will also be applied to the new Pilger film (which by the way I am very much looking forward to and will use with my 150 third year specialist students). In short, our book is a more defendable and, crucially, more persuasive analysis which has a better chance of reaching a wider audience and doing the kind of work that we want to be done.

I'll get back to you over the specifics, but this will do for now.

best,

Piers



Hi David,

A couple of quick points for you, copied from the respond we are writing and which I wanted to flag up straight away:


1) On Kosovo, you claim that we mistake this as a humanitarian intervention. We do not:-

In short, if the early 1990s witnessed a more influential news media that helped to persuade policy-makers to engage in humanitarian intervention (Bahador, 2007; Robinson, 2002), by the late 1990s the concept had developed into a tool that Western leaders employed in order to justify armed intervention in the internal affairs of another state (Chandler, 2005; Chomsky, 1999; Hammond, 2007a). This could be observed during the 1999 NATO air war against Serbia: although this was primarily an act of coercive diplomacy that had the unintended effect of exacerbating a humanitarian crisis, it was promoted and justified to Western publics, quite successfully, as a humanitarian war. (p. 26 Pockets of Resistance)

2) When you write:

As your response makes clear, while ostensibly presenting a neutral analysis, you have here adopted a classic mainstream position on the media. You are affirming that it is the role of the media to depend primarily on mainstream authority figures. So, given that Blair "got the Attorney Generalto sign off the war as legal" journalists had "little ammunition" to challenge the claim.

When I responded to that point I was not clear enough that I did not just mean that there were a lack of elite sources, but that there was a lack of debate in general that journalists could have exploited. Id point out that this is why it is better to run by hastily written emails with the author before posting on the web! We are still in agreement with you, anyway, on the failure of media to question the legality side of things and I refer you to our earlier point on this matter at the start of this document.


cheers,

Piers
Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:50 pm
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Williamtheb



Joined: 21 Aug 2009
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Post Post subject: "What Happened to Academia?" Reply with quote

In my case it was run over by a tank....see thread "By Way of Introduction and Academic Sectarianism" http://medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3015

(That was Peter Frank's department by the way, go to http://www.johnsmithmemorialtrust.org/localuserpage.asp?ae_bae=T&page=127)
Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:02 am
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David Edwards
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Post Post subject: Formal response from Piers Robinson - December 16, 2010 Reply with quote

Added to the alert here:

http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=593:what-happened-to-academia-part-2&catid=1:alerts&Itemid=34

DE
Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:04 pm
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Williamtheb



Joined: 21 Aug 2009
Posts: 57

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't the real embarassment of Dr.Kelly's death more the sad pantomime of posturing (ostensibly shamefaced), journalists in the corporate media (in which I include the B.B.C), who would have us believe that they were previously unaware of the depth of collusion between their sources and the "Coalition of the Willing"? Even following this performance they have continued to behave as if (like the "Pentagon Papers" scandal in the U.S), it never happened.
Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:24 am
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