Monday, August 24, 2009

The media doesn't get Latin America

The US media, and to a lesser degree the British, is the most influential in the world. For leading papers and broadcasters around the globe, whatever the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Washington Post (or the Economist) say about their countries is news in itself. Coverage of world news by American media is a first stop for journalists seeking to understand far-off events. The US and British media shape news coverage well beyond their borders, and this is in part why Al-Jazeera and other broadcasters have been created.

Because of this, whatever the US media has to say about Latin America should matter to Latin Americans. Too bad then that such a great part of the US media seems totally out of touch with the region and misinterprets and mis-explains regional politics. The crisis in Honduras has underlined this several times over.

To focus support for Zelaya's ousting on his alleged drive against the law is to lose perspective of what it means for Latin Americans to see military boots marching into presidential palaces. Military intervention in political life is weighed by Latin Americans in a way Americans are mostly unable too, for the simple reason that Americans have been fortunate enough never to suffer it. Therefore, to analyse Latin American political affairs and behaviours solely through the prism of American experiences, values and ideas is wrong.

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