Robert Fisk: Long Ago and Far Away

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Letter from a Far-off Galaxy: a Tale of Two Worlds  
by William Bowles
I read an awful lot of articles and essays from the independent media every day, trying to keep up with events, and receive far more than I can ever get to read and no doubt miss a lot of really excellent content. The sheer volume of writing (and for the most part of an extremely high quality) is enough to overwhelm all but the most obsessive of news junkies’.

But if nothing else, it blows away the myth that only professional’ journalists write the right’ stuff, and there are just too many of them to name here. In addition I have also pointed to the role that online publishers (why call them 'aggregators'?) play in the process.

One of the finest examples I can think of is ‘GI Special’. Assembled and edited by Thom Barton, he puts out a daily bulletin (in PDF and Webpage formats) aimed principally at serving men and women in the US armed forces. Obviously decidedly anti the occupation of Iraq (and Afghanistan and Palestine), it successfully delivers a powerful anti-war/anti-capitalist message but does it in a way that personalises the issues. This is committed journalism and every bit as valid as any other kind despite all the pretensions they may have.

I despise the internet. It's irresponsible and, often, a net of hate. And I don't have time for Blogopops. But here's a tale of two gutless newspapers which explains why more and more people are Googling rather than turning pages.— Robert Fisk: 'No wonder the bloggers are winning', published in the London Independent, 21 July 2007 
The likes of Robert Fisk regarded by many as progressive doesn’t like us, derogatorily referring to us as ‘Blogopops’, but then we are not bad copies of his style and context but we are busy building our own culture and one that is more valid and more truthful than the world he inhabits.

Robert Fisk’s rant about the ‘blogopops’ being nothing if not typical of the snobbish and elitist attitude many in the world of corporate media have concerning us ‘citizen journalists’ (a designation by the way that originates with the corporate media, not us).

Kudos goes to Fisk for taking on the LA Times and the Toronto Globe and Mail (the Globe and Mail ripped off one Fisk’s pieces without paying for it and changed some key words) but his blanket condemnation on us ‘citizen journalists’ is simply not true and reveals the gulf that exists between those whose livelihood depends on the corporate media and the rest of us fortunate enough to have the skills and access to the resources needed to produce our own and hopefully more accurate version of reality.

Fisk’s piece by the way is about two articles, one on the genocide of Armenians by the Turkish government at the beginning of the 20th century and the other on multiple murders that took place in Canada.[1] He rightly condemns the racism and the twisting of the facts that occurs in the articles but Fisk is also guilty of the same thing,

‘Arabs have never been squeamish about death’ Robert Fisk, the Independent 29/07/03

Or, ‘During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, Iraqis became anaesthetised to death.’ (ibid)[2]

Fisk makes much of his time in the Middle East, as if this somehow automatically gives him some unique insight into events and their causes but the reality is that Fisk is not immune to the blinkered vision of the Western intellectual and just because he sees the racism someplace else, doesn’t mean that he is not guilty of the same.

But one thing strikes me above all else; that the independent media might as well be writing about events on a planet in some far-off galaxy, and this is what separates the world according to Fisk from our own; in actuality, it’s the mainstream media that’s stuck on that alien world, busily rewriting events to fit the worldview of the ruling elite, notwithstanding Fisk’s sympathies for the Arab’, who is apparently, according to Fisk anyway, some kind of sub-species of Homo Sapiens.

The point here is that regardless of the quality of the writing or indeed the experience of the writer, neither of which are under question here, the fact remains that journalists like Fisk live in one reality—the world according to Capital—and the rest of us in another, the one that Capital has created for us to live in.

Given the centrality of the media in maintaining the very status quo that Fisk claims to be exposing, it verges on the obscene for a journalist like Fisk to say such things, but hey, whaddoIknow, I’m just a ‘Blogopop’ stranded on an alien planet trying to make sense of things from another perspective than that of power and privilege.


1. See ‘A blogger's criticism of Robert Fisk’ by redpill8. You’ll find links to the LA Times and Globe and Mail stories, I think.

2. For more on this and the newspaper he writes for, see ‘The bizarre mind of the white liberal’, William Bowles, 25 July 2003.

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