Actors In The News

“America’s media managers create, process, refine, and preside over the circulation of images and information which determine our beliefs and attitudes and, ultimately, our behavior. When they deliberately produce messages that do not correspond to the realities of social existence, the media managers become mind managers. Messages that intentionally create a false sense of reality and produce a consciousness that cannot comprehend or wilfully rejects the actual conditions of life, personal or social, are manipulative messages.” Harold Schiller, The Mind Managers (1973)

The four New York Times journalists, recently held captive in Libya, discussed their adventure at the Columbia Journalism School on March 31. Ann Cooper (far left), a professor at the CJS, moderated and was joined by: Stephen Farrell, Lynsey Addario, Anthony Shadid and Tyler Hicks.

The group described how they had snuck into Libya without papers, hooked up with rebel forces, were captured March 16, roughed-up by Gadaffi loyalists, and then released March 21 by Libyan government officials. Judging by their remarks, they didn’t seem to understand how it all could have happened to them. Nor did they see that being journalists, also meant they were “combatants” real or perceived, especially given the fact that their government is trying to get rid of Gadaffi and their newspaper has come out in supported of the war. At one point Stephen Farrell told about the rebels giving them a list of what they wanted, including “a no-fly zone, but no boots on the ground.”

The U.S. government is trying to delegitimize the Gadaffi government, and yet one of the reporters said in effect, it is precisely because there was a functioning state that they were ultimately released. Farrell countered, “It’s not a legitimate state. It’s dark and crumbling.”

If journalists are doing their job and telling the truth, they will be opposed — even by their own people. That’s what it means to be a combatant, in the good sense, as opposed to being a propagandist, or combatant, in the negative sense.

Tyler Hicks commented, that all the reporters killed in Bagdhad have been killed by American troops.

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