Friday, September 15, 2006

No News Is Slow News

by John Pilger

"When I began working as a journalist, there was something called "slow news." We would refer to "slow news days" when "nothing happened" – apart from, that is, triumphs and tragedies in faraway places where most of humanity lived. These were rarely reported, or the tragedies were dismissed as acts of nature, regardless of evidence to the contrary. The news value of whole societies was measured by their relationship with "us" in the West and their degree of compliance with, or hostility to, our authority. If they didn't measure up, they were slow news.

Let's take a few recent examples and compare each with the regular news as seen on the BBC and elsewhere. Keep in mind that Palestinians are chronically slow news and that Israelis are regular news.

Slow news: "A genocide is taking place in Gaza," warns Ilan Pappe, one of Israel's leading historians. "This morning … another three citizens of Gaza were killed and a whole family wounded. This is the morning reap; before the end of the day many more will be massacred."

Regular news: Blair visits the West Bank and Lebanon as a "peacemaker" and a "broker" between the Israeli prime minister and the "moderate" Palestinian president. Keeping a straight face, he warns against "grandstanding" and "apportioning blame."

Slow news: When the Israeli army attacked the West Bank in 2002, flattening homes, killing civilians, and trashing homes and museums, Blair was forewarned and gave "the green light." He was also warned about the recent Israeli attack on Gaza and on Lebanon.

Regular news: Blair tells Iran to heed the UN Security Council on "not going forward with a nuclear program."

Slow news: The Israeli attack on Lebanon was part of a sequence of carefully planned military operations, of which the next is Iran. U.S. forces are ready to destroy 10,000 targets. The U.S. and Israel contemplate the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran, even though Iran's nuclear weapons program is nonexistent."

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