A better media is possible

A note from the editor

Vanessa Baird

Something good?

Not so long ago, reporters ‘becoming the story’ was taboo, journalists writing about the media, a navel gaze too far. Leave that to the academics.

But, like it or not, today’s chaotic and unpredictable media landscape is a news story in its own right. And one that contains several key elements of drama – including existential threat. If you include social media platforms – now the most common means by which people access news – hardly a day goes by without a novel twist or dire warning, thanks to their activities.

So, for this month’s Big Story we set aside the old taboos and tackle the topic head on, taking an emphatically solutions-oriented approach.

Which can also be said of Divyanshu Ganatra, a clinically blind outdoors enthusiast, who is featured in the Making Waves section. He has started an adventure-sports, not-for-profit organization for those experiencing disability-related stigma in India. While this edition’s Country Profile takes us to Costa Rica, where we catch up with the unexpected election victory of President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who beat a socially conservative, evangelical Christian opponent, tipped to win after whipping up popular sentiment against gay marriage. All of which reminds us that even in these most gloomy of times, you never quite know what might happen next. It might even be something good.

Vanessa Baird for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

Illustration: Amorim / Cartoon Movement

A better media is possible

Trust in tatters. Business model busted. And journalism under attack from all sides. So why does Vanessa Baird think that the news media has a bright future?

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For the past few years I’ve been going to the Media Democracy Festival held in London. The annual gathering of activists, journalists, students and academics, is usually rich in lament and criticism of the state of the mainstream media.

But this year I sensed something different.

Maybe it was because the precipice is closer, the abyss deeper, the media landscape even more plagued by fake news and rampaging bots, and littered with the wreckage of broken business models and shatt...




Features.

Blueprint for a better media

There is no one magic remedy – but lots of strategies. Vanessa Baird writes.

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Fighting Mr Fake

Trump has a precursor – and maybe even a mentor – when it comes to waging war on media he does not like. Iris Gonzales reports from the Philippines.

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Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies…

Vanessa Baird writes on the strange mutations of ‘fake news’

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The selfish giants

So many voices online. Surely that means more diversity and media democracy? Not really, explains Laura Basu.

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Media - The Facts

Changing habits; Tech takeover; Trust in media; Who owns it?

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Facebook’s all-powerful Mark Zuckerberg dodged awkward questions, citing unfamiliarity with the law.

Who elected Facebook?

We’re increasingly relying on social media companies to act like governments and censor dubious content. Jillian York on the failures of this approach – and how to fix it.

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Malware for humans

Wars in cyberspace are wars on our minds. JJ Patrick on the murky underworld of big data, social media, espionage and the spread of chaos through disinformation.

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Winter wind blows from Bedzin’s coal-fuelled electricity plant, stoking clouds of smog, while a woman visits the city’s municipal cemetery.

Dark clouds

Violeta Santos Moura reports from Poland, where air pollution claims some 45,000 lives annually. The country’s reliance on coal is the main culprit but it’s an issue bound up in national pride and political manipulation.

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A freight train that originated in Duisburg, Germany arrives in Dazhou, China.

One belt, one road

China’s dazzlingly ambitious international investment programme – the Belt and Road Initiative – is well under way, with designs to bring infrastructure to half the planet. Wayne Ellwood on the scale of this juggernaut and its economic and political ramifications.

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‘I stopped demanding a reaction a long time ago’

Syrian reporter Zaina Erhaim on training citizen reporters and the importance of documenting the Assad regime’s atrocities. Interview by Anton Mukhamedov.

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Web exclusives.

Will new laws tame the tech giants?

The backlash against social media titans is in full swing. But are moves to bring them to heel, including new privacy laws, appropriate? Mike Morel investigates.

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Artist Jade Little touches up body paint on model Renee Somerfield, as she poses with a sign reading 'Save the Earth, Go Vegan' for an advertisement by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Sydney 3 July 2014. PETA's ad campaign claimed that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change and a major contributor to resource depletion, pollution and world hunger.

If we all became vegan tomorrow

Emboldened by a recent study, The Guardian repeats the myth that becoming vegan is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth. Chris Saltmarsh and Harpreet Kaur Paul disagree.

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Opinion.

Why you can teach funny

Comedy is an art form. Kate Smurthwaite explains.

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In praise of White House dysfunction

The people Trump has entrusted with significant responsibilities are so vile and dangerous that we should be grateful he has neglected to find many more, Mark Engler writes.

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Agenda.

A Muslim boy inspects a broken window after a mosque was vandalized in Kandy, Sri Lanka on 10 March 2018.

Fears for Muslim communities

Phil Miller on fearing for Muslim communities in Sri Lanka.

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Zuma and the nation

Zuma and the nation

Zuma’s trial is just one symptom of South Africa’s problems, Neil Thompson reports.

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Hezbollah check on rights

Hezbollah check on rights

Morgan Meaker on Hezbollah's check on gay rights.

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Introducing... Abiy Ahmed

Richard Swift on Ethiopia's new reforming PM.

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Leave those kids alone

Leave those kids alone

Victory for UK school data, writes Alessio Perrone.

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Learn to swim

The Panje Project in Zanzibar.

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The trauma of history

The trauma of history

Sally Hayden writes about the Lukodi massacre museum.

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Love Jihad

Love Jihad

Alessio Perrone writes how Islamophobia is driving a wedge between love and secular values.

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Racist knockout

Racist knockout

The boxer has become the butt of social media jokes, Alessio Perrone writes.

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Reasons to be cheerful

Amazon defenders; Palmed off; Quitting time!

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Regulars.

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Your feedback published in the June 2018 magazine.

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Democracy in prison

Letter from Marabá: Anxiety, perplexity and indignation over Brazil’s political process as news of former president Lula’s sentencing breaks. Dan Baron Cohen listens to how it goes down in Cabelo Seco.

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Clockwise from top left: At work on a fruit stall in the Zapote farmers' market, a popular weekly event in the capital, San José; early-morning haze over the country's central valley – mountains clad with rainforest rich in biodiversity rise on both sides; chef Suhel del Socorrolopez takes lunch orders in San José’s central market; flaunting it to merengue and salsa music at the Meylin Dancehall; and street art in the Carmen neighbourhood, with the capital's distinctive red taxis in the foreground.

Country Profile: Costa Rica

Gustavo Fuchs takes a look at this country, nicknamed the ‘Central American Switzerland’.

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Open Window - Nicaragua

Pedro X Molina from Nicaragua with 'Where's that?'.

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Divyanshu Ganatra

Making waves: Divyanshu Ganatra

Blind outdoors enthusiast, Divyanshu Ganatra, on the importance of inclusion through adventure sports in India. Profile by Priti Salian.

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And finally... Steve McCurry

US photographer Steve McCurry, best known for his 1984 portrait of the green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’, speaks to Graeme Green about America, human nature and whether or not the world has gone mad.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Pio and friends – keeping the family business going.

Mixed Media: Film

The Ciambra directed and written by Jonas Carpignano;
In the Fade directed and co-written by Fatih Akin.

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Angelique Kidja – rocking the material in her indomitable way.

Mixed Media: Music

Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo; Voice of Resistance by Rim Banna.

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Mixed Media: Books

Behold, America by Sarah Churchwell; Disoriental by Négar Djavadi; A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things by Raj Patel and Jason W Moore; The Empire’s New Clothes by Philip Murphy.

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