Author Topic: Op/Ed: The decline of disinformation and “alternative” media  (Read 755 times)

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Offline Rudi Jan

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Op/Ed: The decline of disinformation and “alternative” media

By Paul Antonopoulos

It has come as no surprise that Vice Media have begun laying off staff despite its media service hiring staff in recent weeks and on the verge of opening new offices in San Francisco and Hong Kong next month.

Vice Media has always marketed itself towards millennials and the trendy-left with the portrayal that it provides alternative news and a counter-narrative. However, the entire mythology is nothing but just that, a mythology.

As I have already covered in a previous article, Vice CEO Shane Smith shamelessly paraded around with Islamist rebels in Libya when long-standing Colonel Qaddafi was on the verge of being toppled. This was a classic example of Vice legitimizing the neo-Colonial ambitions of US-controlled NATO on independent States.

The ideals Vice portrays itself of having is not reciprocated with its actions. It exemplifies the ideals of being left-wing but fails with the simple notion of not identifying when imperialism is being enforced on “dissident” States.

Or perhaps it fully understands imperial designs on the global community and rather it is helping to enforce imperialist ambitions on independent States.

Vice journalist Aris Roussinos is another classic example of Vice legitimizing Islamist elements under the guise of moderate rebels struggling to topple an authoritarian regime. Just as Shane Smith rode around with Islamist rebels in Libya that have now seen a 5 year civil war in the North African country and the rise of ISIS on coastal regions, Roussinos has on many occasions illegally entered Syria to legitimize Islamist insurgents and sectarian YPG forces.

Islamist fighters that Roussinos attempted to legitimize as moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army in 2014 have been proven to be allied and close associates of Al-Qaeda affiliates Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham.

One must question why Vice always instantaneously support Islamist elements in the Middle East under the guise of supporting democratic loving rebels without questioning the bigger picture of who benefits. Rather than learning its mistake in Libya, Vice just increased its disinformation towards Syria.

One must question then, with the layoff in staff at Vice, despite the opening of new offices, is the Rupert Murdoch partly owned outfit have its own fans disillusioned with the constant propagating?

Vice is not the only outlet to see it struggle because of the constant disinformation.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya have felt the pinch and only last week announced that around 50 staff will no longer be needed, including big names like former spokesman for the channel Naser al-Sarami and admin of the website Ghalib Darwish.

Reports have even suggested that further lay off’s will be taking place before August, but no specified number given.

Al-Arabiya has been at the forefront of the disinformation war against the Syrian government and the Yemeni Houthi movement. It has repeatedly and continuously demonized both belligerents in their respective countries.

As the Syrian War takes a turn and the Syrian government increasingly being seen in a favorable light with the continuous disinformation being exposed like the events surrounding the Madaya starvation where Al-Arabiya were caught releasing false photos, audiences are becoming disillusioned with well financed but propagating news services. This is reflected with Al-Arabiya downsizing.

However Al-Arabiya’s principle rivals, Al-Jazeera, have felt the pinch the most. In recent months, Al-Jazeera has shut down Al-Jazeera America after less than 3 years on air and has cut hundreds of jobs worldwide.

Despite the Doha-based media service being owned by billionaire Sheikh Thani, it has not been able to maintain its broadcasting in the USA. To add salt to the wound, only last month Iraqi authorities made the brave, but impressive decision to shut down Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Baghdad.

Iraq’s communications and media commission informed Al-Jazeera through a letter that its Baghdad office will be closed for at least one year.

The letter stated that: “your continuing violations and offenses and persistent media discourse instigating violence and sectarianism”.

Al-Jazeera have continuously been accused of being overly sympathetic to ISIS in Iraq whilst continuously being critical of the Shi’ite majority in the war-torn country.

With Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera marketed as alternative media to the West and viewing regional and world events from a ‘local eye’, why have audiences become disenchanted from the propaganda?

With media services falsifying their ideals of alternative world views, we have seen the rise of smaller and independent news sources. These include Fort Russ, South Front, and Global Research to name a few.

These independent information outlets are not directed by money like the capitalist owned, state owned and monarchical owned Vice, Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera. They are independent to follow any agenda they want without outside interference.

Ollie Richardson of Fort Russ provided an outlook to me on why independent news sources are rising whilst false “alternative” media is losing its popularity.

 “I feel it is best to approach this from a psychological perspective. Firstly, the hierarchy of the smaller independent sites is not hidden behind a dozen people in suits and ties in ivory towers. Regular concerned citizens can identify more with other regular concerned citizens than with a group of business-class graduates who are climbing the career ladder,” he said.

He continues by highlighting the importance of the relationship between the reader and news source. “The main prerequisite for gaining people’s trust is openness, and when we see the owners/leaders of smaller websites being openly available for communication on social networks or via email, it not only gives readers a sense of proximity to the website’s ‘brand’, but also a sense of community that is reminiscent of a roundtable,” he explains.

Finally he reveals one of the main motives for big networks. “Also, I feel that there is the sense that the big networks like Al Jazeera are ultimately financially profiting from ‘reporting’ news, and that the viewers/readers’ emotions are very much secondary,” he says.

With this in mind, living in an information age where the truth is easily accessible, larger corporate media can no longer spew out its propaganda without repercussions. This is why we are now seeing the rise of true alternative media like Fort Russ and the decline of Vice, Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera.
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