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Wikipedia Futur

Media Watchdog
"Le bien ne fait pas de bruit; le bruit ne fait pas de bien "

[Media Watchdog is no longer maintained; others are now doing a better job of listing such resources, and I am glad to pass the baton to them.]

Media Watchdog is a collection of online media watch resources, including specific media criticism articles and information about media watch groups. The emphasis is on critiquing the accuracy and exposing the biases of the mainstream media. There is much more information on these topics available in traditional (non-online) media; interested readers should follow up elsewhere.

Send contributions and suggestions to mernst@theory.lcs.mit.edu (if your WWW browser doesn't support mailto: URLs, use this form).


What's new for the past month:

Media criticism organizations and resources

FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) is the national media watch group offering well-documented, objective criticism in an effort to correct media bias and imbalance. FAIR publishes the magazine EXTRA!, the newsletter EXTRA!Update, the radio show CounterSpin, and the syndicated column "Media Beat", as well as occasional special reports.

La Città Invisibile's media watch project, by publicizing information misuse and manipulation techniques, aims to help the public select between fair and unfair news reports and to develop the net as an instrument of effective democracy.

Le monde Diplomatique provides an independent analysis of world events and media coverage thereof.

Z Magazine frequently includes pieces on media inaccuracies.

This Modern World is a cartoon strip by Tom Tomorrow. In its own words, "...and if you didn't already know that, isn't it absurd that you had to learn it from a comic strip?"

The Media Foundation's Adbusters criticizes media, exposes the advertising industry, and teaches culture jamming.

The Media Foundation 1243 West 7th Avenue Vancouver B.C. V6H 1B7 CANADA Tel: + 604 736 9401 Fax: + 604 737 6021 e-mail: adbuster@wimsey.com

MediaCulture Review has named ten media heroes for 1994.

The Center for Media & Democracy's quarterly newsletter PR Watch chronicles the excesses and untruths of public relations firms.

PR Watch 3318 Gregory St. Madison, WI 53711 (608) 233-3346

Accuracy in Media, one of the United States' older media watch organizations, critiques the media from a conservative perspective.

media-ita is a bilingual (English-Italian) mailing list for the discussion of Italian mass-media related problems. To subscribe, send the message

SUBSCRIBE MEDIA-ITA firstname lastname

to listserv@citinv.it.

MEDIA-WATCH (media-watch@mailbase.ac.uk) is a mailing list for information & discussion on the pleasures & politics of the media in Britain. Approaching the media as a major cultural & ideological force, & media audiences as active & diverse consumers, this list provides a critical forum for media teachers and researchers. Archives of the list are available. To subscribe, send mail to media-watch-request@mailbase.ac.uk.

Noam Chomsky has long been a vocal opponent of biased media coverage; particularly noteworthy is his book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. (A quote noting that media mention does not constitute media coverage is online.) The award-winning documentary film, "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media", was offered to PBS stations on May 1, 1995; a list of stations to air it is available. An archive of Chomsky writings is available online.

The COPI Deep Politics Bookstore gives long abstracts of books exposing government criminality.

The Propaganda Analysis Home Page discusses propaganda techniques, with examples.

The Freedom Forum is a foundation promoting First Amendment rights, journalism education, and media studies and research.

Paper Tiger TV offers media-analysis videos featuring Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Ben Bagdikian, and others.

The Sexual Abuse Witchhunt page (and associated mailing list) discusses ritualistic abuse, repressed memory therapy, and the real science and the pseudoscience related to them. Also see the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance page for debunking of satanic ritual abuse stories, and The Satanism Scare by Gerry O'Sullivan.

Why We Can't Trust the Media to Tell us the Truth is a brief essay by Lisa Pease on punishments for journalists who question authority and the CIA's role in disseminating lies.

Political Woman Hotline frequently includes a Media Watch section or other media anaysis.

Newsweek Watch, coordinated by veteran political and media activist Fran Longmire, notes that hip, trendy Newsweek always seems to find the trends going in the anti-feminist direction.

21stC is a print and online magazine about the future of scientific research in the 21st century. Its Metanews feature critiques research-related stories that the press has overhyped, ignored, handled badly, or handled well.

The Organization of News Ombudsmen is the organization for media outlets' own internal watchdogs. The WWW site includes examples of ombudsmen's columns.

Community Media Workshop helps Chicago-area community and civic groups get news and feature stories about their work in the news media as they solve some of the problems that dominate the news.

The Minnesota News Council promotes media fairness through public accountability. They encourage the public to insist upon responsible reporting and editing, conduct public hearings on complaints against news outlets, and help the media avoid behavior that leads to complaints.

Instituto Gutenberg is an independent Brazilian center for technical studies about media.

The Brazilian Media Watch Foundation is a nonpartisan, non-profit Brazilian foundation dedicated to promoting media criticism over all mass media.

Mass Media Bunk is an annex to the Skeptic's Dictionary which features news stories or articles in the mass media which provide false, misleading or deceptive information regarding scientific matters or alleged paranormal or supernatural events.

The Media and Democracy Congress ran from February 29, 1996 to March 3, 1996; you can get reports and audio. At the Congress, media leaders met to build a stronger, more vibrant independent media community and to encourage citizenship over consumerism in an age in which public interest journalism -- news that aims to inform and enlighten -- is at risk.

Jym Dyers's media watch column The Funny Papers appears in Terrain, Northern California's Environmental Magazine. Each month it examines the San Francisco Bay Area print media and their coverage of environmental issues. Some of this coverage is pretty laughable (if not exactly "funny").

Index on Censorship magazine uses interviews, reportage, banned literature and polemic, to show how free speech affects the political issues of the moment.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) studies news and entertainment media using scientific content analysis. CMPA also conducts surveys and focus groups to illuminate the media's role in structuring the public agenda.

Take Back Our Media! educates conservatives about combatting the liberal media.

PostMortem reveals the assumptions behind the production and consumption of the Washington Post, inluding its social, cultural, and political context.

The American Hellenic Media Project educates the media regarding American-Hellenic issues and addresses anti-Hellenic postures of the media establishment.

American Newspeak is a satirical news journal celebrating the Orwellian face of the 1990's with cutting edge advances in the art of doublethink carefully scavenged from the back pages of our finer newspapers. A new batch of awful reporting appears weekly.

The Cultural Environment Movement is a worldwide coalition of social and cultural organizations working for freedom, fairness, diversity, responsibility, respect for cultural integrity, the protection of children, and democratic decision-making in the cultural mainstream. They have a special interest in media, from which most of us learn our cultural identity and which are dominated by handful of conglomerates who have something to sell.

Telnem's Media-Watch Interactive monitors and files complaints regarding bias, factual errors, and propaganda, focussing on Melbourne, Australia television news but including other media, other nationalities, case studies, and more. . It

The media-diplo@ina.fr mailing list discusses French media issues. Information and archives are available.

Media Research Center's goal is to "bring political balance to media" by "fighting the liberal media", reporting how it elected Clinton in 1992, underreported Whitewater, etc.

Independent News Service reports on conservative news and views ignored by the national media.

Ex-newsman Greg Byron's What local TV news doesn't want you to know discusses that medium, with sections including "Ratings-driven news", "Anchors are performers--not journalists", "Filling airtime between commercials", "Image over substance", "The hand that feeds it", and "Reforming local TV news".

Spotlight on the Media, run by the Zionist Organization of America, exposes anti-Israel bias such as criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or positive coverage of Palestinians.

Israel's Media Watch aims to protect Israel's citizens from editors, reporters, interviewers and moderators who make unfair use "editorial discretionary judgment" to shape and conform public opinion.

News Watch reporting news stories that are neglected by the mainstream (corporate-owned) press and corrects errors in stories that get run through the system.

Mainstream media must be stopped! focusses on misogyny in the mainstream press, including mixed messages promulgated by content and advertisers.

Media Access Project is a non-profit, public interest law firm which promotes the public's First Amendment right to hear and be heard on the electronic media of today and tomorrow.

The Doctor Xeno Report is a weekly issue-oriented satirical montage available in RealAudio format.

Newsgroup alt.news-media is a forum for discussion of news coverage; alt.internet.media-coverage focusses on coverage of computer network-related issues.

Newsgroup alt.folklore.urban (and its FAQ) gives the lowdown on urban legends.

Yahoo's list of skeptical resources has pointers to discussion of frequently bogus claims in pseudosciences such as astrology, ufology, and parapsicology.

Media criticism articles

Three 1992 articles by Three 1992 articles by Gary Schwitzer critiquing media coverage of medical issues are online:

The Manufacture of Hysteria exposes untruths in the media brouhaha over alleged provision of on-line suicide information by DeathNET, run by the Right To Die Society of Canada.

Rush Limbaugh doesn't really tell it how it is: see the New Republic article Limbaugh's Lies and FAIR's criticism of Rush Limbaugh inaccuracies.

John K. Wilson responds, in a letter to the editor, to New York Times coverage of the University of Chicago's National Health and Social Life Survey on Americans' sexual habits.

Carl Villarreal notes, in a column in the Daily Texan, that media sound bites control polls, leaving the majority of Americans misinformed or confused about issues.

Herbert I. Schiller's Challenging The Global Cultural Factories notes that "the world's most powerful and sophisticated message- and image-making apparatus is almost totally ... in the service of selling the goods, services and general perspectives of the dominant Fortune 500 companies."

In Murray Seeger's The Old and Future Labor Beat, a veteran reporter points out that the press ignores blue collar workers and the unions speaking for them.

Alexis De Tocqueville's contemporary description of the permitted parameters of debate in 19th-century America shows that the current situation is not new -- nor have we made much progress in the past 150 years.

In Italy, one company owns all three national commercial television stations; its political arm is a strong presence in parliament. A referendum was held (and failed) on June 11 to introduce openness into Italian TV.

Stephen Donaldson debunks a New York Times report, substantially based on the fund-raising propaganda of the Anti-Defamation League, which makes broad, incorrect generalizations about the skinhead movement based on actions of one segment.

The Heritage Foundation's book Red Tape In America is a compilation of horror stories of governmental over-regulation. Upon closer inspection, many of the examples cited are nothing more than inaccuracies, misstatements of fact, or outright falsehoods. Citizens for Sensible Safeguards refutes a few of the book's anecotes.

Time magazine's sensationalistic cover story, "Cyberporn", relied heavily on a study of Internet pornography by Marty Rimm. The study contains numerous flaws; critiques are available from David Post and Brian Reid. Brock Meeks gives a detailed chronology of the Time story's inception and handling. For many additional resources, see Yahoo's "The Cyberporn Debate".

Jim Donahue debunks welfare myths.

Children Now has put several studies on children and the media online, and also has links to other online resources on children and the media.

Wally Bowen of Citizens for Media Literacy examines the simplistic, polarized reporting of Shannon Faulkner's Aug. 18 departure from the Citadel, based on instant journalism and atention to tangential issues and personalities.

The Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games tracks media attacks on role-playing games, such as ad-hominem attacks on players and putative links to crime.

The Boston Review's February/March 1996 issue contains "Making Sense of Media", by Danny Schechter, which discusses the way media fit into progressive efforts at social change, and "Democratic Media", by Charlotte Ryan and William A. Gamson.

Keeping the Public out of Public Access, by Ed Coll, documents how Hawaii non-profit acess corporations stand firm against democracy.

The Environmental Defense Fund produces reports on media topics. The Way Things Really Are exposes Limbaugh's fallacies on science and the environment, with references, and A Moment of Truth corrects scientific errors in Gregg Easterbrook's A Moment on the Earth.

News Media Seek Credibility (appearing in The Christian Science Monitor notes increasing public dissatisfaction with percieved bias and media's response thereto.

The Media Oligopoly reports on patterns of media ownership -- ten corporations now own 50% of all media outlets.

Brett Dellinger's book Finnish views of CNN: A critical cross-cultural analysis of the American commercial discourse style contrasts various broadcasting styles and considers the consequences for Europe as their media move closer to the American style. The entire text is available online.

Censorship resources

The File Room The File Room is an illustrated archive on censorship which you can browse and update.

Project Censored explores and publicizes censorship in our society by locating stories about significant issues of which the public should be aware, but is not, for one reason or another.

Project Censored Canada identifies and publicizes under-reported stories, informally auditing Canada's national news media and their implicit claims to be 'watchdogs of society,' informing the public about significant issues. PCC also conducts a systematic 'negative content analysis' of Canada's national news media. The 1995 Top 10 Under-Reported Stories and 1995 Junk Food Stories are available.

CMU has removed certain alt.binaries newsgroups containing sexually explicit or obscene material from the university's computer system.

Canada banned all news about Paul Teale and Karla Homolka, who have been accused of murder, during Homolka's trial. Many Canadians consider this censorship to have had no negative effects on the defendants' rights or to have resulted in a worse-informed populace; the long-term effects are not yet clear.

Banned Books On-line has links to books that have been censored and a description of when, where, and why each was suppressed.

Also see the alt.censorship usenet newsgroup.

Alternet's Culture Wars highlights right wing censorship efforts. AlterNet is an independent information service providing subscribers with alternative news, views, information and ideas from hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and leading public interest organizations. AlterNet information is also available via gopher.

The University of Memphis disabled the computer accounts of two students for sending allegedly obscene messages. (Charges were dropped on April 3, 1995.)

The U.S. Senate's "Communications Decency Act" (S. 314) would illegalize propagation of "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent" material on the Internet. Both the data's creator and any system passing it along would be liable. More information is available from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and from slowdog. Progressive Networks has audio of Newt Gingrich criticizing the bill.

The Institute for First Amendment Studies focusses on a variety of First Amendment threats, including censorship, posed by the so-called Religious Right.

Blacklisted is a public radio show about the blacklisting of hollywood actors and writers during the 1940's and 1950's. The show is produced by award-winning producer Tony Kahn, has a star-studded cast, and is distributed by NPR.

American Civil Liberties Union is the foremost civil liberties group in the United States. Among other issues, it combats censorship by governmental and non-governmental groups.

The Chronicle of Freedom of Expression in Canada is a chronology of 20th-century censorship by Canadian officials, plus other resources.

The Committee to Protect Journalists monitors abuses against the press and promotes international press freedom. CPJ has a full-time staff of reporters and regional experts devoted to documenting and responding to violations of press freedoms around the world.

The Index on Censorship Index Index is a country by country listing of censorship and free speech abuses around the world.

Fight Music Censorship is an Internet petition campaign to prevent the United States Congress from passing lyric censorship laws. Mass M.I.C. (the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition) is a non-profit organization of musicians,fans, promoters, music media, and music industry professionals dedicated to fighting music censorship promoting and protecting the freedom of musical expression in Massachusetts.

Music Censorship - Right or Wrong lists some censored music and includes links to pro- and anti-censorship organizations.

Other lists of resources

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