Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There Is Hope For Journalism

There is a sign of hope for journalism despite recent setbacks in Western countries. And like the Arab Spring it is from a surprise source: Russia.
It is no longer uncommon to find hard-hitting news reports, even on the official Russian news agency, Ria Novosti.
Also credible sources such as Al Jazeera are becoming increasingly. Millions can get to it via the Internet in places like the U.S. where it is only on commercial TV a few hours a day at best.
After 40 years of experience, 40 in in mainstream U.S. journalism, it has been distressing to see the mainstream media so embedded they frequently avoid controversial stories.
For example how much play was there in the U.S. for the report that a Pakistani intelligence officer sold out Osama bin Laden. And that the Saudis had been paying Islamabad hide him, keep him safe and out of the trouble.
Even worse was the parroting they did of Cheney’s Halliburton line about WMDs in Iraq and unproven suggestion Baghdad was involved 9/11. Of course that was not true yet the implication still appears in numerous news accounts.
Today’s breakthrough story is in the American media because it paints the Russians in a bad light. An oil rig became a ghost ship in an instant. Not that Mosow, Putin and Co. need help on that score. They are being described by some as the Magnificent Sn as the muzhiks (dudes) override public opinion to a third presidential term.
Ria Novosti gave widespread coverage to the sinking of the oil rig Kolskaya in a winter storm in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Family members were shown accusing the Russian oil company of sending the rig into the weather against government rules.
VIDEO Ria Novosti http://en.rian.ru/video/20111220/170389017.html
Of course the government denied it. The video, taken from the air in part, showed seas even those of us who have been in the Bering Strait in a seal skin boats was stunned by. The rig is shown overturning.
So far only 14 of the 67 aboard have been rescued. Many are missing. Most the rescued are in hospitals.
 Ria Novosti said three possible causes were being considered, it included violation of safety rules. The families’ insistence that no rigs were to travel in the area until the end of February. The other two reasons were no more reassuring: weather and technical problems aboard the rig.
Novosti reported:
“The Kolskaya drilling rig was being towed in a severe storm when it overturned and sank some 200 km (125 miles) off Sakhalin Island early on December 18. Of the 67 people onboard, 14 have been rescued and 37 more are listed as missing. The death toll now stands at 16 people.
“The Kommersant business daily said on Monday that about a half of all people onboard the oil rig were not authorized to be there. “According to regulations, only the captain and a minimal part of the crew needed for the transportation process are allowed to be onboard when the rig is being towed.
“The drilling rig, built in 1985 in Finland, was carrying out work under a contract with energy giant Gazprom. The rig, which is 69 meters long and 80 meters wide, can accommodate up to 102 people.

First reported on Examiner.com

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