Category Archives: Interviews

An Interview with Harry Browne – Part 1

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The journalist, activist and lecturer Harry Browne is author of the recently published book ‘Hammered by the Irish’ (Counterpunch and AK Press), also reviewed by MediaBite.

This interview with Browne, which took place last November, explores his views on journalism and its function within the corporate context. It was also an opportunity to discuss aspects of the Irish news scene, where it is now and where it’s future might lie.

It is published in 2 parts. Further discussion with Browne on his career to date is available on our website, where he traces his evolution in journalism and those journalists and editors who influenced that path.

Continue reading An Interview with Harry Browne – Part 1

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Will Palestine always be the issue? – Part 2

An Interview with Raymond Deane

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Continuing our interview with Raymond Deane – former Chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

(RD – Raymond Deane, MC – Miriam Cotton, MediaBite)

MC: What do you think about the Irish media coverage of the Palestinian issue – what or who are offering either the best or the worst of it and would you see Indymedia as a good source – it’s undeniably a great phenomenon – vital for putting facts and information in the public domain which otherwise might not see the light of day?

RD: In this country it’s easy to single out the worst: Independent Newspapers. Some people say that we in the IPSC are forever targeting the Irish Times and RTE, and ignoring the real mass media, and there’s some truth in this. My rationale, perhaps self-seeking because I simply don’t want to read the Irish Independent or the Sunday Independent, is that everybody knows that these are just populist right-wing rags, everybody knows that people like Eoghan Harris and Kevin Myers and Ruth Dudley Edwards are contrarian crackpots.  These papers don’t claim to be newspapers of record whereas the Irish Times does make that claim, and it is the one that is generally cited if people outside Ireland are ever bothered to cite the Irish media.  From that point of view, it is important therefore to deal in a separate way and in a concentrated way with the Irish Times.

Continue reading Will Palestine always be the issue? – Part 2

Will Palestine always be the issue? – Part 1

An Interview with Raymond Deane

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Last week, in interview with a More 4 journalist, Mark Regev, one of Ehud Olmert’s spokespeople, admitted that Israel knew and had officially recorded the fact that Hamas had not broken the ceasefire between the two regions and, further, that the Israelis were also aware that Hamas had made attempts to prevent other, small groups from firing rockets.  Given that the accusation that Hamas had resumed hostilities was the basis for this war, why then do we continue to read and hear in the media that Israel launched its attack in self defence?

We recently interviewed Raymond Deane – former Chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign –  about media coverage of the Palestinian situation.  Since the interview was originally conducted in early November – the day after Israel broke the ceasefire – Israel has launched its latest assault on the Palestinians, this time in Gaza, with devastating consequences for the besieged Palestinian community there and who have no means of escape from the continuing carnage.

Continue reading Will Palestine always be the issue? – Part 1

Route Irish Times – Part 2

An Interview with Lara Marlowe, Foreign Correspondent for the Irish Times

In Part 1 of this interview Lara Marlowe described life in an Iraq 5 years into foreign occupation, based on experiences during her last visit reporting for the Irish Times. In Part 2 of this interview, she puts the current escalation towards Iran in historical context and laments the failures of the mainstream news media in the run up to the Iraq war

(LM – Lara Marlowe, MB – MediaBite, David Manning and Miriam Cotton)

MB: Iran is obviously coming up a lot these days, have you come across any evidence that Iran is supplying weapons or training to Iraqi resistance fighters?

LM: I lived in Lebanon for eight years and the Iranians helped create Hezbollah in Lebanon. When I interviewed the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad, he said ‘we support all legitimate resistance movements’. And they believe that the occupation is illegal. So it follows that they may be supplying weapons and training. But you must also consider that the US lied about Saddam Hussein’s inexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Their “intelligence” on Iraq cannot be considered credible, if for no other reason because of their past record.

Continue reading Route Irish Times – Part 2

Route Irish Times – Part 1

An Interview with Lara Marlowe, Foreign Correspondent for the Irish Times

For 12 years Lara Marlowe, as foreign correspondent for the Irish Times, has covered events from Algeria and Serbia to Iraq and the wider Middle East as well as providing regular reports on events from France where she is based.

Since 2003 she has offered a consistently critical account of the Iraq war and occupation. Hers is one of the few voices to challenge the mainstream narrative at a time when many of her colleagues were and still are turning a blind eye to the sorts of realities that she has brought to attention.

This critical account does not go unnoticed by those in the profession less concerned with journalistic standards. She has been derided for writing what are wilfully misdescribed as ‘bad news stories’:

“Prime Time’s Mark Little is now so well informed on Middle East politics that we no longer have to depend on doomy dirges from Lara Marlowe.” (‘Rising parade: compliments, complaints and sheer boredom’, Eoghan Harris, Irish Independent, 23rd April 2006)

Continue reading Route Irish Times – Part 1

In media exile – Part 2

An Interview with Joe MacAnthony

In Part 1 of this interview Joe MacAnthony discussed the sometimes overpowering influence of owners on news organisations and how this influence at times impacted his own work. In this second part of his interview he discusses the differences as he sees them between the Irish and Canadian news media.

MB: There are a number of media organizations in Canada, Adbusters for one, who are concerned with the concentration of media ownership there – particularly that of CanWest. What is the state of Canada’s dominant media and are Adbuster’s concerns well founded?

JM: There are two interesting stories that I know of involving CanWest, who established Ireland’s first private national broadcaster, TV3. Izzy Asper, it’s former chief and now dead, bought up a lot of TV stations around the world. In New Zealand, where he had just added a station, he called a meeting of the senior executives and asked them, “What do you think is the more important function of your station?” One of those present, braver than the rest, piped up, “Providing the news.” Asper offered a succinct reply. “No,” He said. “It’s selling soap.”

Continue reading In media exile – Part 2

In media exile – Part 1

An interview with Joe MacAnthony

“Above all, perhaps, the story [of the Irish Hospital’s Sweepstake] underlines what journalism must continue to combat: censorship, state secrecy and the unwarranted power of an influential few.” [Stephen Dodd writing in 2003 in the Sunday Independent, one of only a handful of mainstream articles on the issue] [1]

In the early 1920’s, lotteries promising huge prizes and pledging support for worthy causes gained enormous popularity across the world. With no governing body or independent commission to monitor their working, corruption and fraud dogged these alleged charitable enterprises, their prizes and monies frequently disappearing.

In Ireland, the lotteries fiercest critic of the time was Justice Minister Kevin O’Higgins. He claimed to have ‘developed pneumonia from the dampness in his office caused by the tears of lottery promoters who are coming in crying about the poor and how they wanted to help them.’

Continue reading In media exile – Part 1

Scribes of the Empire

An Interview with Dahr Jamail

On March 15 2003, the eve of war, US President George Bush delivered the following radio address to the American people:

“Good morning. This weekend marks a bitter anniversary for the people of Iraq. Fifteen years ago, Saddam Hussein’s regime ordered a chemical weapons attack on a village in Iraq called Halabja. With that single order, the regime killed thousands of Iraq ‘s Kurdish citizens. Whole families died while trying to flee clouds of nerve and mustard agents descending from the sky. Many who managed to survive still suffer from cancer, blindness, respiratory diseases, miscarriages, and severe birth defects among their children.

The chemical attack on Halabja — just one of 40 targeted at Iraq ‘s own people — provided a glimpse of the crimes Saddam Hussein is willing to commit, and the kind of threat he now presents to the entire world. He is among history’s cruelest dictators, and he is arming himself with the world’s most terrible weapons.” [1]

In November 2004, over a year into the occupation, Dahr Jamail, an independent and unembedded American journalist issued the following dispatch from occupied Iraq:

“The U.S. military has used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against civilians in Fallujah, eyewitnesses report.

“Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah,” 35-year-old trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad told IPS. “They used everything — tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground.”

Hammad is from the Julan district of Fallujah where some of the heaviest fighting occurred. Other residents of that area report the use of illegal weapons.

“They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud,” Abu Sabah, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan area told IPS. “Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.

He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns.” [2]

Continue reading Scribes of the Empire

Embedded with power – Part 2

An Interview with Pepe Escobar, journalist and author

‘For politics / economics, the real information is on the net’

In Part 1 of this interview Pepe Escobar discussed the way in which Hugo Chavez is portrayed in the mainstream media. In this second part of the interview he discusses the context of the corporate media more generally and some of the factors which lead to its fatal inability to reflect either reality or truth in the cases of Iraq and Iran.

[PE – Pepe Escobar, MB – MediaBite, David Manning and Miriam Cotton]

MB – Noam Chomsky, I believe, has suggested that it is sometimes instructive for readers to consider news reports in reverse, i.e. that important contextual information is often ‘tacked’ on loosely to the end of pieces. Would you have any advice for readers wishing to become more discerning or critical consumers?

PE – If you read the mainstream/corporate press, that’s exactly the case: the crucial info most of the time is in the next to last paragraph, and the story is buried in the bottom half of page A-21. News agency copy is required to provide contextual info – but it’s usually superficial and in many cases (e.g. Iran, Palestine, Russia) heavily biased. Papers always need to fill up blank space. That leads to papers in the Middle East, for instance, publishing agency copy – or conservative syndicated columns – that totally contradict their own reporting.

My suggestion is that readers forget about reading serious news on mainstream/corporate media: stick to the sports and entertainment pages. At least you can’t politicize infotainment to death – like Sarkozy having an affair with Carla Bruni (well, the Times of India put it on the front page, like it was a major political story…) In the case of weeklies, stick to the actual reporting and forget about editorials (well sometimes even that is impossible; in Time magazine ideology drips from every report). The Wall Street Journal or The Economist may carry excellent reportage, but frankly no one has to swallow as fact Wall Street and the City of London’s wishful thinking.

Continue reading Embedded with power – Part 2

Embedded with power – Part 1

An Interview with Pepe Escobar, journalist and author

Pepe Escobar is a Brazilian born journalist and writer. He has reported from many different countries and conflicts over his career so far, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, the US and China. He is a contributor to The Real News Network, a non-profit news and documentary network financed by its members; leaving it free from the pressures imposed by advertising, government and corporate funding. In his current role as the ‘Roving Eye’ of Asia Times Online, he is well placed to discuss world events and the ways in which they are interpreted and reported by international media. [1] [2]

Escobar has written in detail on the continuing conflict in Iraq and has been a continued source of unsanitised reality on the subject. In 2005, while many in the Irish media worshiped at the feet of US imposed ‘democracy’ in Iraq – ‘Poll success eclipses past blunders for US’ [Conor O’Clery, The Irish Times, February 1 2005] – Escobar pointed out the absurdity of what was happening: ‘History will salute it in kind: the US administration of George W Bush, parts 1 and 2, has introduced to the world the concept of election at gunpoint.’ [3] [4]

Continue reading Embedded with power – Part 1