Return to Website

Politics and Human Rights Forum

Welcome to the Forums.

You are invited to express your ideas and points of view by opening a new forum or just

by replying to an old one.

Just avoid fanatism, insults and themes not related to the website.

Maximiliano Herrera  -The Editor

Politics and Human Rights Forum
Start a New Topic 
Trustworthiness of Western mass media

This is something on the topic of objectivity and independence of Western mass media. On Sept. 6, a Russian newspaper published a report from Beslan by Elena Milashina:

On Sept. 7, Indymedia UK, "a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues" published a translation of this article by Sian Glaessner:

In certain places, the translation is quite different from the original. I translated the corresponding Russian text and aligned it with the translation by the "independent and alternative media activists" (R - the Russian original, E - the English text):

R: The terrorists started to shoot children at blank point range.
E: Then, apparently, the terrorists began shooting in the direction of the children.

R: The special forces tried to move the militia behind the cordons, but in vain. In all probablity, it was they who fired the first shots that provoked the storming of the building.
E: The special forces fired the first shots, signalling the beginning of the assault on the school.

R: The militia at once ran to cover the children. Only a couple of minutes later, the assault teams of special forces ran up. Most of them wore no helmets or bullet-proof vests.
E: omitted.

R: Behind the cordon, the special forces started to move, which apparently were totally unprepared to such events and were located quite far away from the school.
E: Behind the cordon- special forces were moving about- used to these situations as events developed - and far enough away from the school.

R: Everybody ran there, breaking through a scanty militia cordon.
E: Everyone started to carry children out but they had to break through police lines to do so.

All these differences clearly put a different spin on the report, one that puts the blame on the Russian special forces. I think this is a clear illustration of how the gullible public in the West is manipulated.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Viktor don't be ridiculous.Say what you like about the Western media but they are allowed to express their opinions free of interference from state forces.This cannot be said about Russia.Putin does not permit the full coverage of events in Chechnya.

Perhaps Russia still need to work on the concept of freedom of speech?

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Young Irelander

You are really embarrassing the Western people right now. by being - again - so typically amusingly self-righteous, arrogant, and at the same time refusing to even consider your very simplistic convictions.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

I don t think there is a conspiration of the western mass media against the russian government.
They simply write what they think or feel (they can be right and they can be wrong).
Nevetheless, some people, including journalists ,activists ,etc.. can be little biased in certain situations (not only in the Chechenia conflict)and they "arrange" some words.
Anybody is free to express their opinion, but changing or tampering a translation is ,say, not very professional.
But you have to be sincere Mr.Viktor that Russia cannot be seen as a model of free expression right now, not only for the Chechenia case, but for anything. And regarding centralizing the power,and abolishing direct gubernatorial elections well, in my opinion, it can make the things worse and spread more conflicts. It could work only as a temporaly law, but not permanently.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Viktor,I don't understand how I "embarrass" the "western people".I don't claim to speak for the Western people.I do however come from a part of the world where restrictions on the media are limited.Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion.In my opinion it is better for the press to have too much power as opposed to not enough.It would be my opinion that the Russian media certainly does not have enough.

I also take offence to your suggestions I am being "self-righteous" and "arrogant".Saying that the media in the West has more power than in Russia is not being self-righteous or arrogant but simply stating the facts.

As for me "refusing to consider" my "very simplistic convictions",let me I assure you I do consider them.I consider them to be correct!
I am privy to viewing alot of articles and reports of various opinions on the situation in Russia.I wonder if the same could be said about your compatriots?

As Maximiliano said Russia could hardly be taken as a model for free expression.Putin is tightening Russia's laws to give himself more authority and the truth about the murky treatment of ethnic minorities in Russia is being deliberately blurred.
Say what you like about media in the West and alot of people in the West do criticise it,however it has freedom of speech.Particularly in Britain the press is given much power and you have to wonder how Putin would deal with what Mr.Blair has to put up with,but the fact is the truth is given precedence in Western nations which I don't believe is true of Russia.

Russia has a history of covering up the truth.It seems it still has much to learn about the ways of democracy.Let's hope it learns its lessons quickly.For the sake of Russians and particularly the ethnic minorities putting up with a dangerous racist attitude in the country......

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media


I did not say there is a conspiration against Russia in the Western mass media. There is a wish to throw dirt on it, and the reasons can be various. The point is, Western media are not trustworthy, they can be biased and unfair. To the point that they instill the gullible Western public with all kinds of stupid ideas about Russia, and most probably not only Russia.

As to freedom of speech. Living in Russia, I cannot see any reasons to say it's limited, whatsoever. I could give you lots of names of newspapers, radio and TV companies, and web sites where Putin is criticised (and often they are not unbiased either - for the simple reason that they are owned by people who oppose Putin; BTW, you would not be honest if you said in the West the picture is different) as well as politicians who are strongly opposed to him. And I suspect that your convinctions that Putin takes the freedom of speech from Russians come from exactly such sources.

As to abolishing direct gubernatorial elections. Right now Russia goes through very difficult times. All those free market reforms brought many people into poverty. The army, education, science, health service are in a miserable state. When the regions were largely independent, this brought greater chaos into the country. Worse still, local governments became extremely corrupt (you are wrong if you think they are by definition more democratic than the centralized one) and extremely inefficient at managing their economies. Putin's policy of strengthening the state aims to stabilize the country and bring order into it. It will definitely not give rise to any conflicts between the regions and Moscow - please do not think about all other regions of Russia on the analogy with Chechnya or Northern Ireland.

Young Irelander,

I thought I made it clear to you there is no racism in Russia. As well as there is no limitation on the freedom of speech (read what I wrote above). You not only continue to ignore my arguments, but you also still did not do any background reading on ethnic minorities in Russia, their history living alongside with Russians, traditional policies in Russia towards them. You continue giving me crap from sources that easily temper with facts (see above) and being ridiculously self-righteous and arrogant based on that.

By the way, it is also curious how much trust you have in the Western mass media (obviously, your only source of information). UK's mass media are under an enormous pressure from the government, remember why the BBC's manager had to resign recently, for example? The farce called Hutton's report?

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Viktor I feel you are in denial about your country's racist undertones.I say that based on the information I have seen in the media.Say what you like about the media in the West but it is allowed to speak its mind.
I also take offence to you saying people in the West are "gullible".Who are Russians to accuse anyone of being gullible after all they put up with Stalin for decades.

You are clearly besotted with Putin and his cohorts and you are clearly unwilling to see any other view other than your own.If you want to look at arrogance I suggest you take a look in the mirror....

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Young Irelander

OK, I got your point. Just one thing about Stalin. I did not live under his rule and any serious amount of time under the communist rule in general. In any case, if you are of the popular opinion in the West that "communist Russia" was "evil", it is also ridiculously simple-minded. Clearly this sounds outrageous to you, and I won't even try to clarify this. As Lenin put it, "To learn, learn, and once again learn" :-)

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Some more citations from the Western mass media. One journalist collected the words with which different mass media describe the bandits who captured children in Beslan, - those who kept them for days without food and made them drink their urine and then killed:

Attackers - BBC !!!
Captors - The New York Times
Commandos - Agence France-Presse
Fighters - The New York Times
Guerrillas - The New York Post
Gunmen - National Public Radio
Insurgents - The Myrtle Beach Sun News
Militants - Associated Press
Radicals - BBC
Rebels - The Sydney Morning Herald
Separatists (сепаратисты - The Daily Telegraph !!!
Activists (активисты - The Pakistan Times !!!

Now, you still think Western mass media are not anti-Russian, independent, unbiased, and holly???

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Viktor I can't say I'm surprised you see a positive side to communism.
As for myself,do I think communism is "evil"?Well I think the fact that Russia felt it necessary to construct a wall dividing East and West Berlin just so they could keep unhappy Germans in the East a part of their system says it all.I think Mr.John F.Kennedy made that point better than anyone.
As for Lenin,it's a pity he didn't "learn" from the mistakes of communism in Russia after the Revolution.The fact that he had to betray communist ideals with his NEP(New Economic Plan)shows the folly of communism.Lenin got heavy-handed with his compatriots when he needed to.....

As for your rant about the Western media,what exactly do you find wrong in the words that you cite?I don't know what you are taught in Russia but over here we find it better for the media to be UNBIASED,to report the facts and to leave any assumptions to the READERS.
I don't need a journalist to tell me that those Chechen terrorists in Belsan were scumbags.I know that myself as a law abiding humane citizen.
For the mdeia to make biased opinions would not do any good.People are alot more sensible than you seem to think Viktor......

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Young Irelander

The problem with the mass media I cited above is that they put a spin on the facts, calling the obnoxious *******s with words that have positive implications ("fighters", "rebels" and "activists") and these words at the same time instill a negative attitude to those they "fight" against. Using neutral words also removes the blame from them. You cannot be sure that "the facts" these media present were not similarly doctored (and this can easily happen! - see above), and in fact if child murderers are called "activists" or "rebels", it is most probable that the entire story you hear is a lie.

I don't comment on your contemplations about Lenin, communism, and the Berlin war (and the conclusions about communism you jump to based on the story about it - a story told by the holly Western media), simply because these are too complicated topics, which one cannot couch in black-and-white terms as you do.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Viktor perhaps you should try contemplating more on the Chechen conflict too?You accuse me of seeing things in black and white but I feel you should take a look in the mirror before making assertions like that.

The media is a powerful medium and in the wrong hands can do much damage.People are smart enough to make up their own opinions on terrorists in my view.
You may have a point Viktor regarding the terms used for these terrorists and certainly if I read a newspaper which called them "freedom fighters" or another similar term I would be disgusted but I think most people would feel the same and would have a similar response.
I think it is best for the media to simply report the facts and let the readers come up with their own conclusions.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

Free media does not mean unbiased, of course. However in restricted media there is less chance of finding unbiased sources.

As to the terms, the term 'activists' has got to be one of the most stupid (and to people involved downright offensive) terms to use. I think Putin's term '*******s' (if the translations delivered are correct) would be more in tune.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

There are various reasons why translations are inaccurate. The inability of the translator or lack of time.
In my case it was both.
There is an argument- and I think a valid one- that suggests that there are certain moments when it is important to get the basic info out, as there is time enough to - in a phrase Putin is rather fond of "mop up" the details later.....
I refer you to the translation of literature that was managed to escape the Soviet Union in Samizdat form and was translated swiftly into English thereafter...

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media


Thanks for the reply. However, your words about the lack of time and your inability as a translator are not really convincing.

Re: Trustworthiness of Western mass media

The US network coverage of the war in Iraq... even compared to that of Canadian or Western European coverage reveals the bias and propaganda, trying to instill patriotism, behind the reporting. I doubt there are any who would argue this.

US war crimes, civilian deaths, the veiws of the Iraqi "insurgents" who feel they are fighting to liberate their country from US invaders are all suppressed. The media is used to justify the US foreign policy during this conflict, and "liberation campaigns" past.

The US government has huge control over the media, just think back to the downplayed Niger uranium scandal and the exposure of the ambassador's CIA opperative wife. Do some research on Karl Rove and all sorts of interesting tidbits like the Killian documents will come up. The public is constantly misinformed by the goverment (for example Mr. Bush basing his speeches on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction potential on reports predating the first Gulf War). Acess to alternate sources of information even such as respected independant US news radio programs reveal a whole different side of every story and tell many crucial stories untold by the US mainstream media.

I wont even start on the more flagrant leftists such as Michael Moore and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.