Cover image for Hidden agendas
Hidden agendas
Pilger, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
412 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN5516.P55 H5 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In these passionate reports from Vietnam, South Africa, and Burma, award winning journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger gives the unfiltered truth about worldwide struggles for justice and the international role of the United States and Britain. From inside "big media, " he also shows how news gets buried, demolishing utopian illusions about the "media age" and the "global village."

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Where media studies have appeal, these rather different studies are worth considering for acquisition. The Media & Morality is the latest entry in Prometheus' Contemporary Issues series; coeditors Baird and Stuart Rosenbaum, philosophy professors who have edited previous volumes on such subjects as bias, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage, are joined here by William E. Loges, a communications studies professor. The collection surveys two major topics: journalism and ethics (including competing assessments of the Richard Jewell, Princess Diana, and Lewinsky "feeding frenzies" and of a number of proposed solutions), and entertainment media and ethics (which examines content issues as well as actions readers, or viewers, can take to "fight back." A final section addresses new challenges, including the Internet. A solid overview. Pilger is one of those rare birds, aptly described as a "crusading journalist." In this U.S. edition of a British best-seller, he examines "slow news": stories that challenge the mainstream media consensus or may appear on TV or in the press on a slow news day. In "The New Cold War," he discusses the terrorism Western nations have visited upon the rest of the world, from Diego Garcia and East Timor to Iraq; "Flying the Flag" traces the arms trade. Burma is the subject of one section; Vietnam, another; "The Media Age" takes on media mogul Rupert Murdoch as well as the small, day-to-day failings of executives and journalists who've bought into dominant discourse of globalization and "technological determinism." Censorship is hardly needed, Pilger notes, when journalists who should be comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable are more concerned about the return on their own 401(k)s. Provocative muckraking. A narrower subject occupies Plissner, who spent 30 years at CBS News, much of it coordinating the network's coverage of political campaigns. He traces the remarkable extent to which modern campaigns have been restructured to serve the needs of television. From the New Hampshire primary through conventions, debates, and nonstop polling to election night results, Plissner has dozens of anecdotes to demonstrate the willingness of pols and parties to accommodate TV broadcasters. There are familiar names here (on both the political and network teams), so some readers will enjoy the tales as high-end gossip. Plissner sees no real problem in the tailoring of elections to TV's schedule; broadcasters' agenda is not at all political, he insists; it's financial ("the largest possible viewership at the lowest possible cost") and competitive (with other networks). --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

An Australian-born, London-based journalist and TV documentarian, Pilger might be thought of as Noam Chomsky with a journalist's chops, given his ability to unpack the power relations in the events he chronicles and his trenchant reports from the field. This hefty collection of his dispatches and essays, some of which began as items in the Guardian and the New Statesman, concerns "slow news." In Pilger's words, "slow news" consists of stories that unfold in the shadows of fast-breaking, world-shaking events, but fail to register in a mass media dominated by infotainmentÄstories like the death of Iraqi civilians, the exploitation of Haitian children, the forced demise of the Caribbean banana trade. Pilger's most accessible polemics are grounded in reporting, as when he observes the "refined absurdity" of an arms fair or depicts an arms dealer claiming to be a "simple businessman." Better still are his reports from Burma, where he not only met the resolute dissident Aung San Suu Kyi but also filmed slave laborers. Pilger's attack on the British media, from the BBC to Rupert Murdoch, whose headquarters at Wapping, England, he calls "a cultural Chernobyl," may fail to interest an American readership. But his accounts of the newly democratized South Africa and Vietnam's deprivations under World Bank-imposed strictures remind us that globalization does not lift all boats. Pilger sounds self-righteous at times and occasionally overstates his case: the mainstream media is not nearly so silent as he charges. But these essays pack a powerful punch, raising questions thathis peers in the news trade can ill afford to ignore. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved