Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chomsky Medialens and Atopian

Beaumont from the observer takes on Chomsky and preemptively takes on medialens as well.

Of Chomsky he notes

"'By applying a Chomskian analysis to his own writing, you discover exactly the same subtle textual biases, evasions and elisions of meaning as used by those he calls "the doctrinal managers" of the "powerful elites"."

Something I have noted in almost every article Chomsky has written. Simply Chomsky is not the solution to the decline in the standard of debate - he is a symptom of it. However if anything Chomsky is worse since most people are only half aware of their strategies Chomsky is aware enough not only to catch out others using them but to catch those who attack him doing those same things.

Of medialens he says

"'Think a train spotters' club run by Uncle Joe Stalin"

Alex at atopian continues the trend of this debate

"It contains such a horrendous misread of everything media lens is about that you have to wonder whether it is in fact a cunning ruse to lend support to the ideas that they put forward. Full of rhetoric, slights about the media lens group as being communists ("Think a train spotters' club run by Uncle Joe Stalin"), sheer mistaken facts (media lens do not put the death count in Iraq at 100,000 - they put it higher), and totally wrongheaded arguments (the BBC can't have any biases towards the government because the government doesn't think it does?)."

1) The trains spotter’s club line is rhetorical - but medialens would have to be drowning in hypocrisy to get too upset about that.
2) He referred to the lancet study as the barometer not as the claim, so Alex is mistaken
3) The BBC bias argument is a misreading of his article (although it is possible his article is a misreading of meadialens - that was not what Alex argued)
He said

"In their peculiar version of the world, the BBC is chief propagandist for the government (I'm sure the ministers sliced and diced on Today each day - as Simpson points out in his reply to Medialens - would not agree)."

The point being "you’re going to need a more sophisticated theory mate".

that being said, I actually agree with medialens' objectives, there is systematic bias in the media, related to power structures and the nature of the readers. The media will be fast to be critical of countries where almost no readers are sympathetic and which have little power eg Burma they will also tend to believe those who give them a lot of information e.g. their local governments rather like how a foreign correspondent might believe everything the locals tell him. It is harder to be critical of rich people because they can fight back it is harder to be critical of majority opinions because readers don’t want to read things contrary to their current beliefs.
Maybe medialens can address some of these issues - or maybe they are just part of the system...


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