The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Dermot Moynihan <dermoyn@DELETETHISonetel.net.uk> wrote: >If all these people are so sussed where were they in 1991? Or when we >tried >to stop the bombing of Yugoslavia? They have arrived because they >suddenly >have realised that the world has changed and that 9/11 has demonstrated >that we are all vulnerable. But also because they now have so much greater access to the whole picture. Politicians just cannot ignore what it means to be a leader nowadays, ie.: they are leading people who have - greater access to information - a wider awareness of world issues and - easy contact with people across the world. See the article below from Monday's Media Guardian: http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,7558,896874,00.html The challenge for all those who are information-rich, and against war, is to work out a successful strategy for a peaceful solution and to persuade our leaders to go with it. best wishes Cathy Aitchison ------------------------- Spin caught in a web trap http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,7558,896874,00.html ------------------------- Truth may be the first casualty of war but now in the age of instant news and views at the click of a mouse it's a hostile world for propaganda too, writes Owen Gibson Monday February 17, 2003 The Guardian When Allied forces were last on their way to the Gulf in 1991, the internet was little more than a gaggle of bearded academics swapping information on their latest computer programs. The last Gulf war heralded the coming of age of rolling news television. CNN, with reporters on the ground and in the studio, made its name by comprehensively outperforming its traditional rivals. But now 24-hour news is commonplace, it is the web that is opening up a world of different perspectives and viewpoints. As we've seen over the past two years, from September 11 to the subsequent war on terror and the current countdown to war, after the initial rush towards recognised news sources such as the BBC and CNN, web users started to cast their net far wider as they searched for explanation and context. Sites such as Afghanistan Online and Islamic Gateway saw a thousandfold increase in their traffic while web users also flocked to sites such as Stopwar.org and Amnesty International. And just last week, interested parties were able to flick from the French press to the US tabloids and back again to see how differing views on the war were taking shape. Not only that, but it becomes a lot easier to tell when a government is looking to mislead. As Tony Blair and Labour found to its cost when it was caught bang to rights pinching bits of its Iraq dossier from three- year-old academic documents lying around on the internet. All of which presents governments with a problem. Propaganda in the historical sense is simply not an option. After all, when you can see opposing views at the click of a mouse, controlling the nation's perception of a conflict becomes a lot more difficult. Imagine if we'd been able to see and hear the Argentinian view of events in 1982. Or even if, in 1991, we'd been easily able to read alternative news sources from the Middle East, rather than watching carefully released footage of "smart bombs" turning right at traffic lights. Professor Bill Dutton is director of the Oxford Internet Institute, a department of Oxford University devoted to researching the social impact of the web. "The most obvious thing that the web provides is access to a greater diversity of viewpoints and a more international viewpoint. Although you have to remember that people gravitate towards sites that reflect their own views, there's no doubt that there's the potential to access a wider diversity of opinion," he says. In many ways the Kosovo conflict of 1999 was the first war of the internet age. But even in the three years since, we've seen the number of people on the web, and the amount of time they spend on it to the exclusion of other media, increase exponentially. And public opinion on the decision to send troops into Kosovo was far more clear cut than over Iraq, where there's a huge split in attitudes to the prospect of military action. Put simply, when you have a worldwide depository of millions of points of view, the propaganda war becomes a lot harder to win. There have been several cases in recent years where online research has uncovered lies, inconsistencies and mistakes in the government line. The key thing is that it now only takes a few minutes to search through several lifetimes' worth of information - and access to that huge archive is not restricted to journalists, academics or government officials, but open to all. The very fact that the government published its Iraq dossier on the web, as it had previously with its Bin Laden evidence, was tacit recognition of the growing power of the medium in influencing opinion. "The depth at which people can research any given topic is incredible," says Dutton. "It greatly enhances the relative power of the individual in getting access to information and forming communities, for better or worse. While it enables a neo-Nazi group to exert influence far beyond its numbers, it also, by the same token, enables anti-war groups to do the same." Many of the hundreds of disparate pressure groups that congregated in Hyde Park at the weekend were brought together by the web, while sites such as Urban75 and YearZero.org not only give an alternative spin on the mass media but provide access to fully formed communities. Adam Porter, founder of Year Zero and a former managing editor of Loaded, believes that the proliferation of alternative news sources on the web goes hand in hand with an increasingly media-savvy audience. "People are looking for alternative sources of news information because they fully understand the process that goes on in government and in big news organisations. They want serious questions, they distrust anyone with a vested interest and they want complex analysis of complex problems," he says. Dutton stresses that it's important not to view the internet in isolation but as part of the wider explosion in news media, and also points out that it's only in countries where people have free access to the web that it is able to act as a counterbalance to the excesses of government propaganda. "During the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre people were saying the fax machine was democratising China because it gave people access to the outside world. But the fact was that the Chinese government had bought up all the fax machines," he points out. But Porter is adamant that sites such as Year Zero in the UK and GNN in the US will form the basis of an alternative news network that will eventually rival traditional media. "It's really patronising to assume, as the mainstream media often does," he says, "that ordinary people don't talk about Iraq, asylum or economics down the pub. You can go all around the world and find similar things and it's the web that's bringing them together." -- Cathy Aitchison _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk