why American have media exposed global human rights abuses?
A. Moritz, writer, teacher, and former Asia correspondent of
Science Monitor has designed and maintains this site as
an academic course supplement, a stimulus to research and, and a guide
to what is available on the web.
This is not an "advocacy site" but an effort to "bridge" a variety of
The case studies may be used on line or downloaded in .pdf format for
use as "e-books" viewable with Acrobat
Reader. Email the author to purchase at nominal price a
periodically updated cd rom of the entire website.
This writing has grown from the author's work as a correspondent
covering Chinese domestic and foreign policy -- and from more than
twenty years of teaching and research on the interplay of journalism
and politics. It seeks to:
*Develop an overall framework for better
understanding the economic, cultural and technological conditions under
which American media spotlight overseas abuses in a way which impacts
American attitudes, politics, and policies.
*Spotlight the sometimes fine line between distorted sensationalism
producing stereotypes and propaganda about overseas events -- and
insightful exposure of overseas brutality in a way which encourages
constructive action by governments and peoples in America and elsewhere.
*Explore the inherent selectivity of American human rights journalism
-- as shaped by technology, politics, culture, and the logic of history.
*Explore the way in which American human rights reporting can act as a
"gateway" to produce or justify war.
*Illuminate the circumstances under which American journalists have
ignored or papered over massive abuse -- such as in the cases of Hitler
*Examine the impact of changing technology of global human rights
reporting in media such as television and the Internet. New
technologies have cut information barriers, helped human rights
advocates gain media attention, and visually dramatized bloody
government crackdowns and emaciating famines.
TO STIR THE POT;
OR CALM THE TEMPER?
Born of Victorian tastes, two
"outsiders,"Joseph Pulitzer and Mary Baker Eddy, took opposite
approaches to journalism reform. Pulitzer's "Yellow Journalism" helped set the stage for modern human rights
reporting. But the reform movements pioneered by The New York Times
and The Christian Science Monitor have complemented and
restrained the journalistic excesses inherited by today's media from
"the yellows." Download "e-book"
BEYOND BELIEF: IS
THIS A "NAZI KIND OF THING?"
Is Saddam Hussein "Hitler Revisited?" How events of the 1930's created
an atrocity "archetype" which, even today, triggers journalistic
investigation of "Nazi kind of things." With hindsight it seems almost
incredible that American media so thoroughly failed in their coverage
of repression by Hitler and Stalin. The prevailing media failings of
the 1930's can be seen as a lesson against which progress in human
rights coverage can be measured. Take a tour of a time when journalists
seemed to "sleep" and explore some simple reasons why the "holocaust"
of German concentration camps seemed ignored until after World War II. Download "e-book"
THIS JOURNALIST AS PART
OF THE STORY: REPORTING SURPRISE ATTACK
This essay analyzes the pitfalls of intelligence gathering -- and the
role of the journalist as "intelligence analyst." It explores issues of
"surprise attack" by tracing the impact of Japan's attack on Pearl
Harbor right up to the "Second Bush Administration" and the attack on
the World Trade Center. Intelligence can be compromised by the "fog" of
reality, by failure to communicate, or by political blinders at "the
top." Based in part on this writer's personal experience in reporting
Deng Xiaoping's secret decision to invade Vietnam on February 17, 1979.
Deng would prove once again, as in China's decision to launch human
wave assaults on American troops in Korea some 30 years before, that a
once humiliated China would risk a wider war to "stand up." Download "e-book" in .pdf
WHAT THE CAMERA
CATCHES: OVERSEAS CRIME BEAT
An examination of the changing conditions under
which human rights issues become defined as "news" -- and when
patriotism (as in the Afghan and Iraq wars) seems to shape it to
patriotic purposes or make it off-limits. An historical overview of how
communications and technology help American international human rights
journalism provide the sexy "blood and gore" for overseas reporting.
Supported by the technology of TV with its vivid emphasis on violence
and suffering, human rights reporting has become our overseas crime
reporting, a way of "humanizing" the abstractions of distant peoples.
Coverage is greatest when there is clearly "blood on the shovel." Download "e-book" in
GATEWAY TO WAR: MY
LAI, MEDIA, AND IRAQ
In the war with Iraq American "on-team" media help integrate many
classic American themes -- from lofty idealistic human rights crusades,
to ruthless Indian fighting to crafty "realpolitik." This study traces
developments in American journalism which foreshadow the current
emphasis on human rights issues in overseas reporting. Traces the roots
of modern human rights journalism in the 19th century, especially
"yellow journalism;" surveys early examples, summarizes the impact of
World War II and the holocaust. Explores American journalism's record
of sometimes "taking
on" American atrocities. It also explores the explosion of
human rights reporting and awards boosted by the Vietnam War, the
Watergate scandal and the human rights policies of the Carter years. Download "e-book" in
THE "MOTHER" WHO LED THE WAY
This New England intellectual - also a poet and an
essayist - was perhaps the first great pioneer to make of journalism a
watchdog for alerting American readers to human rights issues abroad. A
decade before the Civil War, as Europe erupted in the revolutions of
1848, Margaret Fuller, the "mother" of human rights journalism, became
a foreign correspondent as the last stage in a personal voyage of
intense intellectual and emotional growth. She was an intellectual who
became a foreign correspondent - rather than a journalist by trade. Download "e-book" in
"YELLOW": THE "FATHER" WHO LED THE WAY
journalists" of the Hearst and Pulitzer chains became human
rights pioneers. An examination of "yellow journalism" at home and
abroad -- and of the deep roots of today's "watchdog" human rights
reporting in the Victorian moralism of a century ago. An introduction
to how James Creelman, the "father" of human rights journalism, exposed
the Japanese massacre of Chinese civilians during the Sino-Japanese War
of 1894-1995, then joined other American reporters to open the way for
the Spanish American war by exposing and sensationalizing Spanish
brutalities in Cuba. Download "e-book"
CREELMAN AT PORT
ARTHUR: FORGOTTEN SEEDS OF PROPHECY
A case study of how "yellow journalist" James Creelman helped launch
American journalism as a power on the world stage. He caused an
international scandal by exposing Japanese atrocities during the
Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. Although an admirer of Japan,
Creelman's reporting forced an apology from Japan and prophetically
exposed the roots of Japan's later WWII atrocities. His reporting
provided deep, but quickly forgotten, insights into Japan's
modernization and expansion. This essay compares early and contemporary
human rights reporting and examines the delicate balance between
watchdog and propagandist. Download "e-book"
CREELMAN IN CUBA:
"YELLOW" SEEDS OF WAR
A case study of how "yellow journalists" exposed the brutalities of the
pacification campaign conducted by Spain in the 1890's. The coverage
led to America's war with Spain after the sinking of the battleship
Maine in Havana harbor. Spanish abuses helped justify American empire
in Cuba and the Philippines. Atrocities in Cuba foreshadowed a coming
century of guerrilla war - and how journalists would cover it.
America's war with Philippine guerrilla insurgents, Britain's war
against the Boers in southern Africa, partisan wars in World War II,
and America's war against Vietnamese communists all too often made
academic the niceties of the Geneva Conventions. Download "e-book"
SPANISH LEGACY: THE
IMPACT OF SANTO DOMINGO
Just what was going on in Cuba in the 1890's when "yellow journalists"
filed sometimes sensational reports on Spanish atrocities against
Cubans during a rebellion for independence? Guest essayist Jaime
GARCIA-RODRIGUEZ compares the tactics used by Spain's
General Valeriano Weyler at the time of his mandate in Cuba (1896-97)
with those later used by the British Army during the Boer War
(1899-1902) and by the French Army during the Algerian war (1954-61).
Weyler brought to Cuba the brutal violent experience of prolonged war
in Santo Domingo. Download
"WATCHDOG" UNITED STATES
Has the U.S. legal system, as practiced in Jefferson County, Colorado,
violated civilized standards of human rights in relation to the
treatment of children? That is the question posed by a case in late
October 1999 which was little reported in the United States but sparked
outrage in some countries of Europe. News media there raised public
concern for pressure on the American government in the case of an 11
year old Swiss-American boy arrested and imprisoned on charges of
sexual abuse related to incest.