Friday 24 July 2015

Unboxing the World One Viewpoint at a Time

As We Knew the World and as The World Knew Us:

I still remember the day when Indira Gandhi was brutally gunned down by her own bodyguard post Operation Blue Star. We heard rumors and saw Police Jeep doing rounds of the neighborhood. We were clueless as our National Broadcasters; Door Darshan and All India Radio were tight lipped about the whole incident. But news came through. News came through via BBC World Service. We all tuned into BBC and tearfully heard India lost one of its most dynamic Prime Ministers of all time. Such was the power of BBC back then, and we knew which Channel to listen to when you want some authentic news, and one news organization you can always bank on.

Then some years later I remember watching excitedly, American and British warplanes taking off from Aircraft Carriers in the Gulf and flying their bombing sorties. Iraq skyline ablaze with tracer fires, and occasional bomb blasts here and there. We were watching start of Gulf War live on television via CNN International sitting at Kolkata, India.

What was happening back then is away from the State sponsored Television Networks we were getting exposed to International News Broadcasters and our dependence on those channels of information were growing leaps and bounds. We trusted and bet our lives on news from BBC and CNN. That is exactly how we came to know the world, and how the world came to know us. What these channels showed us about the world, and what the channels showed the world about us.

Uncovering Bitter Truths and Understanding Perspectives:

But gradually with the onset of the Information Age and opening of many more Channels and News Networks around the world and within India, we gradually started taking in more sources of news. But still BBC and CNN remained one of the most trusted sources of World News when it came to International News Networks.

Then suddenly one day India was up in arms against BBC as it televised visuals of Russian Tanks roaming in Chechnya, as Indian Army Tanks roaming in Kashmir. We understood that BBC was pushing a hoax story to cater to British national interest back then. Whoa! BBC, a channel we trusted so much.

Then came 2nd Gulf War and we were told by BBC and CNN that the coalition is attacking Iraq as Saddam is stockpiling WMD. Wait! Was not Saddam a product of USA against old rival Iran? So well, the West went to war with a small country and CNN and BBC and likes made us believe that it was for a worthy cause. It has been a decade I guess after the war, and still there has been no proof of WMD that ever surfaced. So, it became apparent, the Western Mainstream Media pushed their Government Agenda and did a propaganda that Iraq was stockpiling WMD. They were puppets on a string, and we believed them. Resulted in destruction of a country.

Same thing happened in Afghanistan. We were led to believe it was Al-Qaeda who were responsible, and it's needed to invade Afghanistan. Mainstream did not cover the angle, but which many independents did, where the whole 9/11 attack looks like a Government Agency setup for invading Afghanistan. Does Al-Qaeda exist? As per mainstream we have been led to believe yes it does. Independents does question the theory.

So, over the years what we came to understand is CNN, BBC and the likes have been pushing their Government Agendas and pieces that have been approved by the States. So there goes Freedom of Press. It is nonexistent in the mainstream, especially in the US.

How They Fooled Us and Keep Doing It:

Unfortunately, they keep on doing it. Situationally the Western Coalition does not want Iran to dominate the region, oil is valuable stuff, so is regional power and dominance. Unfortunately, Assad of Syria happened to be pro Iran, so via the mainstream media again the world was led to believe Assad is a bad guy, so he must be invaded in support of the rebels. What the mainstream did not tell us is (now its verified by UN fact finding teams) that the initial massacre at AL Quebir in 2012 was carried out by Saudi backed anti Assad militia and it was made to look like the Syrian Army did it. It plunged the country into a blood bath which continues till date. What was the story we keep getting from the mainstream? Everything that is Anti-Assad. As that is what the Western Governments wanted us to know. It prepared the ground for invasion of Syria by western forces. Remember WMD and Iraq?

Now something unexpected happened which was not able to happen during the Gulf war. This time the Internet was there, and so were the alternative news sources along with social media.

So effectively what happened is, people were more aware that the western powers were again pushing for another invasion (they have some serious problems in dealing with rest of the world,) and this time worldwide people started objecting. In many news sites Anti-War articles started getting published, people started talking about it in social media, people were out in the streets in US also, and fortunately a World War III kind of situation was avoided. Weapons manufacturers could not sell weapons and the Western powers just had to back down as people knew what was happening, despite propaganda by mainstream news networks.

It gave birth to the rise of Alternative and Free Press, and Social Voice on whom people can bank on, unlike the mainstream media who mostly spread propaganda in times like these. The world now knows that they too have an opinion in what is happening around the world. And once united they can stop these big boys from playing war stuff with each other. It's like mom scolding... "Son come back home, it's time... play time is over."

One Who Owns the Media Controls the World:

So, it's quite evident that whoever controls the information channels can form mass opinions. So intact, a big war is happening now over how to control news and information sources they can't buy off. Say Social Media and alternative Non-Commercial Free Press sites, and Non-Western News Networks like Al Jazeera and Russia Today who are reaching out to the world with their viewpoint, and with what they feel is right or wrong about this world. Western leaders are petrified to the extent that they openly speak about CNN and BBC losing their voice. They are now even asking for more funds to be allocated to counter non-US/UK Media Networks. There are talks happening in US, to counter Russia Today by opening a Russian Language News Channel which will spread American propaganda to the folks in Russia. But what they don't understand is that the world is tired of false stories and propaganda and war, to fill some select coffers. They are tired of invasion by a select group of countries. What is happening right now is people are realigning themselves and their viewpoints as they are more informed now than before. People can make their own decisions. People themselves are becoming media editors.

Understanding Propaganda and Real News:

So, it is quite evident that what we are told is not always the truth. Sometimes States, Political Parties and even Corporations try to mislead us with the help of the mass media, which is the commercial news networks. Not only USA, but in most of the countries including India. Especially in the US, very few journalists are there in big companies like CNN, Fox News, USA Today who can chase news stories which are against Governments and Big Corporations. In India journalists enjoy more freedom to report than journalists in US.

If mainstream journalists were free to report in US, then stories like certain Government Agency was planning to assassinate Occupy Houston Movement Leaders (if needed) with Suppressor Sniper Rifles would have made Headlines. That agency also suggested using that method in other Occupy Movements. FBI did officially acknowledge this. If this would have happened in India, media would have gone crazy and would have run after the Government to disclose facts. People would have been out in the streets and the Government would have to step down. But nothing like that happened in the US. Why? Because the mainstream media never informed the public about it. It came out via alternative news sources and was totally blacked out by the mainstream. Imagine having a plan to assassinate own citizens who dare to raise voices!

So, it's quite clear that via mainstream media we don't always get to hear what we should hear and instead we hear what is made for us to hear. Officially cleared versions. CNN and BBC journalists go to other countries and try to break stories ignoring what is happening in the US and UK.

So, it is especially important for us to understand what propaganda is and what is real news.

Fighting Media Disinformation:

Somehow people in the West are under the impression that they live in a free country. But the fact remains their reporters can't go and report against the Governments and Big Corporates. The civilians in US are more likely to be killed by a Trigger-Happy Policeman than any Terrorist, considering 5000 people have died courtesy the Cops in US post 9/11, is a proof of that. Their Government Agencies plan to assassinate Activists. Rapid Militarization of Police is happening in the US. Police brutality in US during group protests like Occupy Wall Street and Anaheim Protests are making headlines across the world, except in US. Is this Freedom and Freedom of Press? I don't think the UK too will lag far behind in this regard, as they normally follow US footsteps everywhere.

So, it is especially important for people worldwide to be more aware about what mainstream media tells them and what they do not tell them. They need to know how much truth in what there is they get to hear from the mainstream. In this regard let me say journalists in India enjoy more freedom to report on things than journalists in US or UK. In India too, TV Channels at times get biased in their coverage and openly support some political parties during elections. Let's not forget that Political Parties do buy Media Advertising Slots and Corporates attached to them also buy Advertising Space. But still in India, journalists enjoy more freedom than their Western counterparts when it comes to criticizing the Government and its policies and Police brutalities. Media can still bring down Government here in India by publishing the Right News so that it reaches the Right Ears, in West they can't do that. The News Networks have become small pawns in the hands of the Governments, else they mostly publish Tabloids and do Yellow Journalism to sell copies.

So, it is clear you must learn to fight Media Disinformation, and only way to do that is take in more news sources from various kinds of outlets and be vocal about it. Fight Media Disinformation and be more aware of what is happening around you.

Understanding International Perspectives:

While you listen to News Broadcasters from foreign countries, say the likes of CNN and BBC, it is especially important to understand that they do have some agendas which they push globally among other things. Their national interest is there in some stories, and it is not always the whole picture that you get to see and hear.

So, it's important for you not to rely on just two Channels for your cup of International News which comes from the West, heavily laced with Western viewpoints of the world. It's just one side of the coin.

Open to comparatively much liberal viewpoints, Channels like Aljazeera (Quatar), Russia Today (Russia) who courtesy their nation of origin has counter viewpoints about what they report on while doing international stories. NPR from United States is a reliable source of news. Read stories from The Conversation. You must learn to see both sides of the coin. Global perspectives vary from region to region. So, opening to new sources of information gives you multiple perspectives of the same news. You will also discover underperformed stories this way and get to know more about your own world.

Developing an Objective Viewpoint and Being Your Own Editor:

It is important for you to open to more information sources. Mix news from both mainstream and alternative media so that you are a much better educated citizen. You must be able to build your own version of the story in your own head, just by hearing ten perspectives, some of which can be biased. So, you need to learn to filter information and become your own Editor of News. The gatekeeper of what gets into your head, and that helps you to decide and act and motivate others to act. You have to be more aware of what is happening around you and develop informed viewpoints.

Open Your Eyes to the Real Truth and Less of Untruth:

If you remember the movie Cloud Atlas an extremely popular quote from it is, "Truth is Singular, all its versions are Mistruths". In other words, there is only one truth. It might have different versions, but fact remains what is truth is truth, but the versions of truth as portrayed remains an untruth.

But the Truth is Out There (X Files), and it is for us to find it and separate it from the Untruth. How do we do that?

Primarily, what we must do is learn to observe multiple news sources. Few from the mainstream from various countries and not one, and some from the alternative news sources which can be a mixture of Blogs, Magazines, Crowd Funded News Sites. Social media is a good place to discuss these issues and spread the news what you feel is right.

Secondly learn to do your own research before betting on a story which changes your perception of things, and the way things are. Some things I said here might have intrigued you, say that of Assassination Plans related to Occupy Houston Movement...research it and form your opinion about it. Only after you have researched it from multiple perspectives will you be able to differentiate the One Truth over a Thousand Untruths.


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