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News Vs. Propaganda, the Gatekeeper’s Dilemma

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The U.N. yesterday convened an emotionally charged panel on bias in the media called “News vs. Propaganda: The Gatekeepers’ Dilemma.” Representatives from CNN, The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, the BBC World Service, a London Arabic-language daily paper, and the South African Broadcasting Corporation were all present. They were joined via satellite by Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Afghanistan, and High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The panel began with a discussion on news media coverage of the recent U.N. Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, with Mary Robinson lightly chastising Western outlets for their minimal coverage of the conference. Discussion then turned to the issue of civil liberties and human rights in the United States after September 11, and how the Bush administration’s crackdown affects media coverage. Later the debate heated up over two issues: the question of airing Osama bin Laden’s video tapes, and why the U.N. said it couldn’t take Taliban prisoners in Mazar-i-Sharif. Hundreds of prisoners were massacred by the Northern Alliance and U.S. bombing runs.

We start with Hafez Al Mirazi, Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Jazeera, on civil liberties.

Tape:

  • “News vs. Propaganda”, U.N. panel on media coverage held on December 6 in New York.
  • Hafez Al Mirazi, Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Jazeera
  • Barbara Crossette, correspondent for the New York Times
  • Shashi Tharoor, the interim head of the U.N. Department of Public Information, who moderated the forum
  • Abdel Bari Atwan, of the London Arab-language daily Al Quds Al-Arabi
  • Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Afghanistan via satellite

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