Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 19, 2012

Arizona newsmakers: White supremacy, cyber-plagiarism and corporate spin

Photo Andrew Curley: Navajos protest uranium mining
in Church Rock, N.M. on Saturday.

Arizona newsmakers: White supremacy, cyber-plagiarism and corporate spin

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON -- Watching Arizona TV news is like watching skits for Saturday Night Live -- except none of it is funny. There’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, foaming at the mouth over the comedian who used the 'F' word about him. Then, there’s Arpaio's big Hawaii report on Obama's birth certificate. Next up, you have the white newscasters knitting their brows and scowling at the protesters of the banned books and banned Mexican American Studies in Tucson.
Then, in the print media on the web, you see more white reporters in Arizona distracting from the real news on the Navajo Nation.
In southern Arizona, folks are real happy that Navajos are breathing the filth of coal-fired power plants and not them. Still, Arizonans would really like more of Navajos pure water to waste. Arizonans are also content with the failure of reporters to actually go out and talk with Navajos on Black Mesa, and the reporters failures to show up at the Grand Canyon or Church Rock, N.M. for anti-uranium mining rallies.
Arizonans water their lawns, swim in their pools, and enjoy their green golf courses in the Sonoran Desert, while Navajos on Black Mesa haul their water long distances and breathe the polluted air of the dirty Navajo Generating Station, which gives southern Arizonans electricity. All this happens as Navajos fight another attempt by Arizona senators, non-Indian attorneys, and corrupt Navajo politicians to steal something else, and this time it is more Navajo water rights.
Criticizing news reporters makes them nervous, because they know you are right, but they can't agree with you. This includes the reporters of national Indian news sitting in their easy chairs and profiteering from victims, and struggles, for their paychecks, without ever leaving their homes to actually talk with anyone. Instead of journalism, they smash together tidbits they find online and put their name on this cyber-plagiarism for their paychecks.
In the national Indian print media, the online aggregators, getting rich from other peoples labors by posting links, promote the cyber-plagiarizers. Meanwhile, the good hearts, actually doing the work, aren’t making a dime.
Yes, Arizona news is like watching a comedy skit, but no one is laughing. It is outrageous, sick and pathetic. The good old boy reporters keep the system going. They protect the white supremacists and crooks, including those in the Arizona legislature and elected offices, and the corporations, including the coal fired power plants, and Indian water rights thieves. Reporters like to ignore AK47-wielding white supremacist groups in Arizona, until they murder someone, like the infant in Gilbert and the young girl in Arivaca.
At the border, there is always a news spin to keep people from knowing the truth: The truth is US Border Patrol agents routinely abuse Tohono O'odham on their own land, even when O'odham are taking their children to school or driving elderly to the hospital. US Border Patrol agents have murdered and raped migrants on the Arizona border. US Border Patrol agents are also constantly arrested for smuggling drugs and aiding cartels.
It seems news reporters don't think this is sexy enough for the news, so they target others as the enemy, like migrants. Reporters write romantic fiction about border trackers. They attempt to make the cell phone chatting US Border Patrol agents, driving around at high speeds in their air-conditioned cars, and spying on O’odham and abusing O’odham, into folk heroes. The reporters keep quiet too, about the Tohono O’odham elected government which has been co-opted by the US Border Patrol and allows this to continue.
Journalism students can find no better place to observe bias and censorship in news reporting than in Indian border towns like Flagstaff, Arizona. Protecting local advertisers and businesses like the Arizona Snowbowl, is always a priority over fairness in reporting of Indian issues. In southern Arizona, the truth about the ATF supplying weapons to drug cartels seeps out slowly. Project Gunrunner began in 2005 during the Bush administration in Laredo, Texas, but no one cared until a Border Patrol agent in Arizona was shot with one of those weapons.
Among the worst abusers now of human rights are those news reporters who fake it. They use the Internet for cyber-plagiarism, including those reporting national Indian news from their easy chairs. Since they are not present and talking to people in Arizona, including Navajos and Tohono O'odham, those reporters violate their ethical responsibility and encourage abuse to continue by not reporting the truth.
Another tactic in the print media is to allow non-Indian reporters to write the headline news in Indian newspapers, so the news remains superficial. This gives the editors an easy way out. On national Indian radio news programs, listeners are more likely to hear from the exploiters of Indian country, from senators to energy companies, rather than those who are defending the Earth.
Reporters, editors and TV newscasters in Arizona, and reporters of national Indian news, aren’t just failing the news industry, and themselves, they are failing humanity.

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter of Indian news for 30 years. She served as a staff reporter for Navajo Times, and a stringer for AP and USA Today during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. After serving as a longtime news reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored, then terminated and created Censored News. She is a contributor to Narco News.
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