August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reflections: A sense of place and the muse

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Writers know that when it comes to being present, there is no substitute for being there. Some reporters spend their entire lives writing about issues and people, without ever being there. Their news reports are based on press releases, primarily written by politicians and corporations. Their contact is often a phone call or two and the comments are quoted, regardless of whether the comments are facts or lies. Many of these reporters rely on plagiarism, rewriting the articles of reporters who are actually on the scene, or at least know what they are writing about.
There is hollowness to their writing. For readers, there is a feeling in the gut, a sense of intuition, that something is wrong, that the writer isn't telling the truth.
This has been the situation for the past 28 years that I've been a journalist. Sadly now, because of the collapse in the economy and the bankruptcy of so many newspapers, even these shallow news articles are vanishing, with their shallow news reporters.
The bankruptcy and moral decay of the news media has an even more profound and tragic outcome. It is allows corporate criminals to continue without watchdogs, including the seizure of Indigenous lands and water rights. The assassinations continue by mining and logging companies around the world, with Canadian mining companies now in the forefront of the genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
By manipulating public sentiment, as CNN has become a master at, corporations and politicians are carrying out their crimes without media watchdogs. Internet news does expose these crimes, but much of America does not have access to the Internet. Even for those who do, not all Americans read the news online.
Still, CNN and television news can be held responsible. So can those reporters who continue to promote corporate and political agendas, such as the coal-fired power plant Desert Rock on Navajoland opposed by Navajos who live on the land, Peabody Coal's mining of Black Mesa and President Obama’s war in Afghanistan.
Even now when the media has fallen to an all time low in public opinion and respect, publishers and producers still care when the public says they have had enough.
So drop them a line or make a phone call. Tell them that you know what they are doing. Tell them that you are fed up.
For writers and reporters, we are always reminded to listen to the muse, that quiet and steady voice within that gives up direction. Sometimes our conscious minds do not want to listen to the muse. That was the case when I wrote, “Hate Crimes for Christmas." It was not easy to write this on Christmas Day. After it was published, I expected a steady stream of hate mail in response from people arguing in favor of the war in Afghanistan and defending President Obama’s first year in office. I expected people to argue that military recruiters are not targeting people of color as expendables to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there have been no such e-mails.
The hate crimes are a matter of public record. Of course, during the days when the Ku Klux Klan reigned with terror over the past decades, especially in the Deep South, less of these crimes were reported and prosecuted.
The same is true for the torture and murder of American Indians in bordertowns. The ACLU has documented that American Indians are more often targeted by police in routine traffic stops than non-Indians. After being charged, American Indians are given longer sentences for the same crimes than non-Indians.
The American Indian Movement has been exposing these facts over the past decades. It has become known as DWI "Driving While Indian."
Not all of the news is bad. There are still many people out there who care and sacrifice for humanity. Thank you to each of you.
Once again, thank you to all the readers of Censored News, without you there would be no reason to publish it. May your dreams be a reality in 2010.

Also see: Common Dreams: Collapse of Media among top 10 stories:

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