‘Investigative journalism is dead’

If you are going home and simply watch the nightly news in the US, you are not getting any part of the real story; it's hard to discern what the real news is, says Mike Papantonio, host of ‘America’s Lawyer.'

With stories on "fake news" now dominating the headlines, and audiences not sure what to believe any longer, more people are looking to alternative media sources.

RT: Is the American public getting a fair breakdown on what is happening in the world today?

Mike Papantonio: It is difficult for the American public to ever get both sides of the story. What is happening in the US these days is a real nuanced type of propaganda. If you have a company, let’s say it is a weapons manufacturer that has an interest in turning up the heat on a conflict, like we saw with Iraq, or you have a news organization that understands that they can sell more advertising if they can create more interest on an issue like Iraq, they simply take the side that creates that interest.

@RT_com ? Nobody does it better than the West )Op-Edge by @Robert_Bridge) http://on.rt.com/7xem

As we saw with Iraq, the American people were completely left in the dark about what the real story was. It went as far as having the American public watch Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice testifying in front of the UN about uranium and the threat of weapons of mass destruction. And in the end, the American public obviously found out that that was not true. But it is difficult to discern what the real news is. Unfortunately, in the US right now, the best source of information is social media. It's moved away from pure corporate media where you expect ABC or CBS or NBC to give you the real story. That story is always tainted with what somebody who might be buying advertising has to say about the particular story. We really saw that with Iraq. We saw this huge push by the big advertisers, such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas pushing the idea that we had to go to Iraq or all was lost. And then we saw the media pushing the story because they understood that if they can get America’s attention they sold more advertising. Unfortunately, that has been the situation here in the US – as well as other parts of the world - and in many parts of the world. You see the media reacting according to their best interest.

RT: Is it possible to change the current situation? 

MP: Unfortunately, there is no single solution here. I think what becomes more and more important is that the American public, and not just the American public, but the world public, pays attention and evaluates according to many sources. I choose to go to social media because I know there are many sites that I believe far more than I would corporate media. Somebody else may have a different avenue that they use. But the only way that I go about preparing a story… is to go to multiple sources. And then figure out where I am being hustled, what is accurate and what is not, and that takes some work. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, people are working, they have families to have to take care of, they have children in school, they have jobs to take care of. So, at the end of the day it is a lot of work to really find out what is real and what is not. I don’t know whether there is any one solution, but if I were trying to suggest where do you begin, most of the time I find the search is much better off with social media that is less affected most of the time by big advertisers. Now, it is affected by special interest groups. What we are seeing worldwide now is advertisers commandeering social media; special interest groups commandeering social media.

But there are still places where you have a better choice of information than you would get if you get home and what the nightly news. If you are going home and simply watching the nightly news in the US or most countries around the world, you are not getting any part of the real story. You are maybe getting what is being sold that moment for corporate media. In most parts of the world, investigative journalism is dead because they simply don’t take the time to really look at all sides of the story.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

  • Published in World

Journalism based on gossip is akin to terrorism – Pope Francis

Speaking with Italian reporters, Pope Francis warned they should be careful as one can kill a person with their tongue. This is even more so for journalists, so their work should be very professional and never based on “rumors.”

On Thursday, Francis addressed a gathering of 400 people from the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, emphasizing the importance of professionalism in journalistic activity, as it is the cornerstone of an independent and pluralist society.

However, “you can kill a person with the tongue,” Catholic news website Cruxnow cited the pontiff as saying.

“I have often spoken of rumors as ‘terrorism,’ of how you can kill a person with the tongue,” Pope Francis said. “If this is valid for an individual person, in the family or at work, so much more it’s valid for journalists, because their voice can reach everyone, and this is a very powerful weapon.”

Denunciation of evil, he continued, must not come at the cost of disrespecting another, because “the unjustly defamed can be destroyed forever.”

His remarks are well-directed in Italy – a country considered to have very lax controls regarding defamation through the press. This has been known to be the case with powerful papers with government money behind them. Such was the case in 2009, when the journalists’ guild lashed out at then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, after one of his family’s papers began a character assassination of a magistrate who had ruled against one of the Berlusconi family’s companies, according to the Guardian.

But the pope referred here to more pressing issues affecting the planet – particularly the coverage of the migrant crisis. Journalism, he said, should not be a “weapon of destruction against persons and even entire peoples.”

It should neither “foment fear before events like forced migration from war or from hunger,” Francis added. This could refer to last year’s labeling of the Paris attackers “Islamic Bastards” by right-wing newspaper Libero. Such examples of stoking up hysteria are not few and between.

According to the pontiff, journalism should not be about what you believe, but about being honest, and never going ahead with a story if you know it to be false.

“I understand that in today’s journalism, with an uninterrupted flux of facts and events told 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s not always easy to get to the truth, or even to get close to it,” he said. However, “even in journalism, it’s necessary to discern between the shades of gray of the events being told.”

READ MORE: Church should apologize to gays & women for ill treatment – Pope Francis

Pope Francis then reminded that “across history, dictatorships - of any orientation or ‘color’- have always tried to not only undertake the media, but also to impose new rules to the profession.”

The pope is known for delivering impassioned speeches that reach outside of his circle of followers and bring the Catholic Church under increased, often positive spotlight with his message of inclusion. In June, Francis declared the Church should apologize to gay people and women it has mistreated.

  • Published in World

UN Urges to Protect Work of Journalists Worldwide

During the World Press Freedom Day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged governments, politicians, businessmen and citizens to nurture and protect the work of journalists

Freedom and independence of the press give power to the people and help us work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all, said the Secretary General in his message for the date, set in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly.

According to Ban, both democratic societies and sustainable development depend on the free flow of information.

Every year we celebrate this day to insist on this fundamental principle and to honor those who risk their lives in the exercise of the profession, he said.

The Secretary General expressed regret that journalists too often face threats, abuse, arrests and even lose their lives in the search for information.

  • Published in Now
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