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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-11-10 04:31 PM
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Misreporting Venezuela's economy
Misreporting Venezuela's economy
If you want a perfect illustration of media toeing the official line, look no further than the forecasts of Venezuela's economic doom

Mark Weisbrot guardian.co.uk,
Saturday 11 September 2010 17.00 BST

The bulk of the media often gets pulled along for the ride when the United States government has a serious political and public relations campaign around foreign policy. But almost nowhere is it so monolithic as with Venezuela. Even in the runup to the Iraq war, there were a significant number of reporters and editorial writers who didn't buy the official story. But on Venezuel, the media is more like a jury that has 12 people but only one brain.

Since the Venezuelan opposition decided to campaign for the September elections on the issue of Venezuela's high homicide rate, the international press has been flooded with stories on this theme some of them highly exaggerated. This is actually quite an amazing public relations achievement for the Venezuelan opposition. Although most of the Venezuelan media, as measured by audience, is still owned by the political opposition there, the international press is not. Normally, it takes some kind of news hook, even if only a milestone such as the 10,000th murder, or a political statement from the White House, for a media campaign of this magnitude to take off. But in this case, all it took was a decision by the Venezuelan political opposition that homicide would be its main campaign issue, and the international press was all over it.

The "all bad news, all the time" theme was overwhelmingly dominant even during Venezuela's record economic expansion, from 2003 to 2008. The economy grew as never before, poverty was cut by more than half, and there were large gains in employment. Real social spending per person more than tripled, and free healthcare was expanded to millions of people. You will have to search very hard to find these basic facts presented in a mainstream media article, although the numbers are hardly in dispute among economists in international organisations that deal with statistics.

For example, in May, the UN Commission on Latin America (ECLAC) found that Venezuela had reduced inequality by more than any other country in Latin America from 2002 to 2008, ending up with the most equal income distribution in the region. This has yet to be mentioned by the major international press.

More:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010...
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