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Editor’s note - Issue 4 - The Unpolished Mirror
Publishing a small independent reader such as this, it was only a matter of time before we turned to the issue of the media. We originally intended this issue to focus on censorship, but along the way our definition of censorship broadened. Indeed, it is arguable that the very concept of censorship has broadened in the manner it is applied. By the end of the 1970s, Carl Bernstein was able to reveal that during the Cold War the CIA had infiltrated American media stalwarts, such as the New York Times. Such revelations were probably not surprising to those reared in the paranoid mental landscape of the politically turbulent 1960s and 1970s. It probably shouldn't come as any more of a surprise to read the latest articles by Glenn Greenwald on his new online home, The Intercept. Still drawing from the leaks of Edward Snowden, Greenwald paints a more sinister rendition of the picture Bernstein laid out years ago. One of his titles alone reveals that, "...Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations."
One of the characteristics of the post-American age may turn out to be the self-realization by Americans that the values we hold most sacred have perhaps always been little more than myth, the hallowed freedom of the press being one of them. Many in the press took note recently when Reporters Without Borders announced that the US dropped 27 places in their annual ranking of global press freedom. The arrest of reporters during Occupy Wall Street was sited as a leading factor for this drop, which highlights the general trend in the US towards outlawing or intimidating journalism that goes beyond celebrity worship and dares to shed light on serious issues.
Even Reporters Without Borders, though, would point out that the US media is relatively free, they label it "satisfactory." But, what makes Greenwald's story so important is that it reveals that instead of resorting to blatant censorship, the US government can simply render unwanted coverage meaningless by diluting it with misinformation. The result is a public attempting to make sense of a world they see darkly, reflected in an unpolished mirror.
Fortunately we have people brave enough to attempt to clear up the picture for us. But the process isn't easy. The issues facing us in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela are more complex than the Cold War, Good versus Evil simplifications offered by the Western media. Every horrific image passed around on social media needs to be scrutinized. Every headline needs to be considered in context. Perhaps ironically, Western journalists may one day look to China for role models, where journalists like Hu Jiwei and Qin Benli risked their lives and careers during the heady days of the 1980s to push for press freedom, and where bloggers today regularly test the boundaries of acceptable dissent.
Please take some time to join us in this, our fourth issue—The Unpolished Mirror. In these pages we try to see our world more clearly. Of course, in order to reveal the true nature and meaning of our life and times, we will have to wipe away some of the myths we tell ourselves that cloud our view. As always, we direct our gaze both towards the East and the West.
Issue 4–Recommended Beverage: Coffee, Black