By Published On: April 3rd, 20143 Comments

When it comes to complex international issues, does following the news increase or diminish our understanding?

I want to talk about something that’s difficult to talk about in person: Ukraine. But not the actual place or events surrounding it, which I know less than nothing about. (Emphasis on less, an issue I’ll return to shortly.) I want to discuss the local Victoria aspect of “Ukraine”— which is more influential over my own life.

It seems we’re talking, writing and posting online about Ukraine a lot more than we used to. We debate what’s happening there, who’s to blame, and even about what actions we should be taking: providing financial support, boycotting, brokering negotiations, sending troops, the whole gamut.

So what caused this local cultural shift? Events in Ukraine? Many dramatic international events happen that we don’t talk about. And even though a million Canadians have some Ukrainian ancestry, many more have German or Irish ancestry, and I haven’t noticed any heavily-funded Victoria-Ukrainian PR operations. So I’m guessing it’s safe to suggest that this shift has been caused by the upsurge in news media reporting about Ukraine.

I find that extremely concerning because the reporting that’s reaching most Victorians tends to be misleading and utterly de-contextualized, and can’t be trusted as a basis for reasonable conversations. Read the rest at Focusonline.

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  1. Irene April 29, 2014 at 4:32 am

    I do understand that you wrote this passage to criticize some unsupported journalists claims about the situation in Ukraine and Russian aggression. However, your critics looks just as one sided as the reports you are deconstructing. Finding small inconsistencies in North American reports about numbers of military, evidence and proofs of invasion and calling this as a global terrorizing propaganda…are you serious? Many of those mistakes were admitted and fixed by the media. But why is Russian Goebbels’ propaganda excluded from your critical analysis? Is it because its not on the Island or in North America and it does not matter for you?
    In these days when Russians torture and kill Ukrainians on our land because they believe that we are fascists as they were told by their media…many Ukrainians hope for international support, journalists support as well, that you are criticizing…too bad Russian news makers do not read your blog. Otherwise, they will quote you as a Canadian expert who said that all what Western media has to say about Ukraine is a propaganda!
    Hope next time you fill find the time to explore politics of informational wars and the distribution of power within it.

  2. Irene April 29, 2014 at 4:39 am

    This is my call on what is going on in Ukraine. How do you cope with it? Yes, it is not a full, traditional military intervention….but how do you cope with it?

  3. Rob Wipond April 29, 2014 at 5:06 am

    A number of people have criticized this article — or to be more precise, criticized me personally for writing this article — using the same basic argument that you are presenting. But what you are doing is, you are acting as if the media coverage of the situation and the situation itself are one and the same. And so when I comment on the media coverage, you are reacting as if I have actually commented on the actual situation. But those two things are very different: the news coverage and the actual situation. In fact, it is very dangerous to conflate the two in the way that you are doing. That is the whole point of my article.

    I do not in this article comment at all in any way on the actual situation in Ukraine. I state that explicitly. I actually do know some things about it, but I did not talk about them. That was not what this article was about. This article was about North American news media coverage. For example, I took one of the most simple, straightforward, easy-to-verify and extremely important facts — a number of troops somewhere between 0 and 30,000 — and showed that our major news media were completely lost as to what the number actually was, and yet were also consistently not being honest about their own confusion. That’s it. That was my whole point. I was saying, we cannot trust news media outlets that are this lost, and this unwilling to be honest about it at the same time. We absolutely cannot trust them at all to report even the most simple and basic of facts accurately.

    You write about “Russian Goebbels’ propaganda” while you comparatively state that western news media made only “small inconsistences” which they “admitted and fixed”. It sounds to me like you are simply very reluctant to believe that many major North American news media may also be engaged in disseminating propaganda. But why would you believe that?

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