On the rare occasions when you actually get to see mainstream news coverage of Latin American events, it’s important to keep the three D’s in mind. It’s unlikely that media conglomerates will report a story that doesn’t focus on drugs, dictators, or disaster. Corporate media are most likely to report stories that are in tune with the prejudices of their more affluent viewers (and readers) because viewership is valued the most from a marketing standpoint.
In the interest of getting out the truth, Americas.org–Web site of the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Resource Center of the Americas–has put together an excellent package including 10 stories that the corporate media either distorted or ignored in 2002. Each of the stories, writes Jeff Nygaard in his introduction, “concern the roles of the U.S. government and transnational firms in perpetuating the region’s extreme economic disparities, trashing its environment and promoting war.” The issues covered run the gamut from the Argentine economy to the environmental costs of oil in Colombia to U.S. meddling in Haiti and Venezuela.
During the Reagan years, spin doctors like Otto Reich fed us fabricated stories geared toward turning the American public against Sandinistas by saying they were trying to acquire chemical weapons. Sound familiar? Under the guise of national security, the current Bush administration vilifies any reporting that isn’t in tune with the antiterrorism rant or the cry for war. And in the meantime, objective reporting falls through the cracks.