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FW: [FAIR-L] Initial Reports from Seattle Gloss Over WTO Issues
- To: Becky Burr <email@example.com>, "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Esther Dyson <email@example.com>, Mike Roberts <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
- Subject: FW: [FAIR-L] Initial Reports from Seattle Gloss Over WTO Issues
- From: Jay Fenello <Jay@Fenello.com>
- Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 16:52:24 -0500
- Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, DOMAIN-POLICY@LISTS.INTERNIC.NET, email@example.com
This just in:
>To: "'Jay@Fenello.com'" <Jay@Fenello.com>
>Subject: FW: [FAIR-L] Initial Reports from Seattle Gloss Over WTO Issues
>Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 16:26:34 -0500
>Wanted to make sure that you saw this.
> > ----------
> > From: FAIR-L[SMTP:FAIR-L@FAIR.ORG]
> > Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 5:49 PM
> > To: FAIR-L@LISTSERV.AMERICAN.EDU
> > Subject: [FAIR-L] Initial Reports from Seattle Gloss Over WTO Issues
> > FAIR-L
> > Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
> > Media analysis, critiques and news reports
> > Media Advisory: Initial Reports from Seattle Gloss Over WTO Issues
> > December 1, 1999
> > As trade ministers from over 130 countries meet in Seattle this week for
> > the
> > World Trade Organization summit, tens of thousands of activists from all
> > over the world have converged on the city to protest both the undemocratic
> > structure of the group and its record on labor and environmental issues.
> > But the news coverage anticipating the protests has shed little light on
> > the
> > specific charges being made against the WTO by most of the protesters. As
> > the conference gets under way on November 30, a few trends in the coverage
> > have already emerged.
> > To begin, news stories preceding the conference demonstrated a fundamental
> > lack of understanding of the issues involved. A November 1st article in US
> > News & World Report was headlined "Hell No, We Won't Trade: How an obscure
> > trade organization became a lightning rod for protest." While one can
> > debate
> > the merits of labeling a group with international jurisdiction over global
> > trade an "obscure" organization, "We Won't Trade" is a grossly misleading
> > characterization of the anti-WTO arguments.
> > The article goes on to note that "For the moment, the movement against
> > free
> > trade seems to have little traction in the United States." This is a
> > puzzling conclusion for an article that notes that "up to 50,000
> > demonstrators" are planned to "attend mass rallies, a march, teach-ins and
> > prayer services" to protest the Seattle trade meeting. Nonetheless, the
> > assertion is backed up by this: "All major presidential candidates support
> > free trade and the WTO."
> > Reports prior to the summit, and many appearing this week, argue that the
> > WTO stands to "open up" trade around the globe. That is inaccurate, as
> > Dean
> > Baker pointed out recently in FAIR's Economic Reporting Review
> > (http://www.fair.org/err/991108.html ):
> > "While its rules are designed to facilitate foreign investment, such as a
> > U.S. auto manufacturer building a factory in Indonesia, in other areas the
> > WTO has taken little action to facilitate trade, while in some areas its
> > rules are intended to impede free trade. In the case of professional
> > services, such as those provided by doctors, lawyers and other highly paid
> > professionals, the WTO has done virtually nothing to facilitate
> > international trade and competition. In the case of intellectual property
> > claims, such as patents and copyrights, the WTO has worked to impose these
> > protectionist barriers on developing nations, at an enormous cost to their
> > consumers."
> > Nor do many media accounts explain what the protesters are focusing on--in
> > most cases, a specific set of concerns and issues that have been before
> > the
> > WTO in the past few years (summarized well at
> > http://www.accuracy.org/press_releases/PR112999.htm ). ABC's Peter
> > Jennings
> > commented that "it seems as though every group with every complaint from
> > every corner of the world is represented in Seattle this week."
> > CBS Evening News explained some of the background on the same night's
> > newscast, but bungled one of the core criticisms of the WTO. Dan Rather
> > reported that the WTO had ruled on many environmental issues, but declined
> > to make the simple point that the WTO has ruled *against* environmental
> > restrictions in every case that has come before it. Indeed, Rather's
> > reference to the WTO's ruling on "fishing restrictions aimed at saving
> > endangered species" might have mislead viewers into thinking that the WTO
> > was intervening on behalf of threatened animals.
> > Some reports, rather than dealing with the concerns of the protestors,
> > instead focused on the hypothetical danger they pose. Tony Snow's first
> > question to teamsters president James Hoffa, Jr. on Fox News Sunday
> > (11/28/99) was: "Do you worry that there's going to be any violence
> > there?"
> > Likewise, NBC Nightly News (11/29/99) devoted their lead WTO segment to
> > security concerns in Seattle ("The stakes are high, so is the security, so
> > is the provocation"), highlighting local authorities' precautions against
> > "a
> > potential chemical or biological attack."
> > The report was followed by a segment by NBC financial correspondent Mike
> > Jensen extolling the benefits of free trade. Jensen concluded that "most
> > experts say getting rid of trade barriers on both sides is a good thing
> > for
> > American workers and consumers. But no matter what comes out of this
> > four-day meeting--and a lot of analysts don't think it will be much--world
> > trade has such momentum, almost nothing can get in its way."
> > Yet, as Dean Baker points out in a recent ERR, there is "near consensus
> > among economists that trade has been one of the factors that has increased
> > wage inequality in the United States over the last two decades." But that
> > "consensus" is decidedly harder to find in mainstream press accounts.
> > The theme of free trade "momentum" is also present in a story on MSNBC's
> > website (http://www.msnbc.com/news/340513.asp ), which includes a link to
> > a
> > special section encouraging readers to "find out more about the hurdles on
> > the way to free trade."
> > Similarly, a recent Associated Press report called protesters' concerns
> > "far-fetched," and continued by noting that "for every campaigner lying
> > down on a sidewalk this week to protest the WTO's efforts to reduce trade
> > barriers, there is a happily employed Seattleite whose job depends on free
> > commerce."
> > A disturbing indication of mainstream media attitudes toward coverage of
> > the
> > WTO meeting came when ABC's Seattle affiliate announced that it would "not
> > devote coverage to irresponsible or illegal activities of disruptive
> > groups," adding that "KOMO 4 News is taking a stand on not giving some
> > protest groups the publicity they want.... So if you see us doing a story
> > on
> > a disruption, but we don't name the group or the cause, you'll know why."
> > In
> > a revealing choice of words, news director Joe Barnes described civil
> > disobedience as "illegally disrupting the commerce of the city." (KOMO has
> > requested comments on its policy at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
> > This decision by a corporate-owned news outlet to explicitly ignore the
> > messages of groups practicing civil disobedience underscores the
> > importance
> > of independent journalism. Organizers in Seattle have made a priority of
> > setting up an independent media center (http://www.indymedia.org ), and
> > much
> > is planned for the coming week, including a daily newspaper, a daily radio
> > broadcast (World Trade Watch Radio, http://www.radioproject.org ) and
> > from-the-scene video documentaries that will be available via satellite to
> > many public television stations.
> > For more information, see FAIR's Resources on Trade at
> > http://www.fair.org/issues-news/trade.html .
> > ----------
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