GRIID Offering Media & Propaganda Class

media and propaganda in the united states class

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is offering another one of its popular classes. This winter, GRIID will conduct the following class:

Media & Propaganda in the US

This new six-week GRIID class will examine the role of media and Propaganda in the US over the past 100 years. We will look at the origins and function of the public relations industry, the role of corporate media, a case study of government propaganda and news coverage of the US occupation of Iraq and the role that Hollywood and other popular media plays in government. We will also discuss ways to critically read/watch news and even have participants do a mini investigation of local and national media.

There are no books for this class, but we will be using some essays, articles, documentaries and news media for the class text. Classes will be Monday nights from 7-9pm at 1134 Wealthy SE, in the same building as the Bloom Collective.

Class cost is $20 and begins on Monday, January 26. For more information contact Jeff Smith jsmith@mediamouse.org or Mike Saunders outobol@gmail.com

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New GRIID class on History of US Social Movements

The Mediamouse.org affiliated Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is offering a six week class on the history of US social movements.

The Mediamouse.org affiliated Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is offering a six week class on the history of US social movements:

History of US Social Movements

What actions in the United States history have caused the greatest social change? Who were the actors and what were their tactics? Join us as we explore the history of social movements within the United States. Movements that we will cover are the abolitionist movement through the civil rights movement. The labor movement. Women’s suffrage through modern day feminism, as well as anti war movements though out the United States. We will be using Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States as our text, as we discover what has forced social change through out our nations history. Part of the 6 weeks will be devoted to discussing how previous social movements inform how we can work for change and build movemwents now.

The class is $20 you’ll need a copy of The People’s History of The United States.

The 6 week class, meets weekly on Wednesdays begins October 1st from 7pm to 9pm.

For more information contact Jeff Smith jsmith [@] mediamouse.org or 459-8423

or Mike Saunders outobol [@] gmail.com .

The class will be held at:

Tanglefoot Building

314 Straight Ave SW

Door M

Grand Rapids, MI 49504

GRIID Class Offered again at The Bloom Collective

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is once again offering a class on the history of US foreign policy since World War II.

GRIID Class Offered again at The Bloom Collective

Once again, the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is offering a class on US foreign policy since World War II:

Making Sense of US Foreign Policy: A 6-week workshop

Do you want to make sense of what the US is doing globally? What motivates US policy in the occupation of Iraq, why does the US unconditionally support Israel, why is the US trying to overthrow the democratically elected government in Venezuela?

These questions and many more will be explored in a 6-week workshop with the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID). We will use Bill Blum’s book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, plus additional handouts, documentaries and online resources.

The workshop is designed to discuss US foreign policy since WWII, politically, economically and militarily. We will discuss issues such as US intervention, torture, sanctions, use of proxy forces, war crimes, trade policies, the US relationship to the United Nations and other international agencies like the IMF and World Bank. Included will be an investigation of how US media factors into what we know about US foreign policy.

Part of the 6-week workshop will also include discussion about how our understanding of US policy determines what kind of actions we take to resist those policies. We will discuss the difference between tactics and strategies and look at the importance of social movements for bringing about structural change.

* The class will meet Mondays from 7- 9pm beginning Sept. 15 at 1134 Wealthy SE, in the Bloom Collective space.

* The cost of the workshop is $25, which includes the cost of the book.

* Workshop is limited to 10 people, with a minimum of 4 participants.

For more information contact Jeff Smith jsmith@mediamouse.org or 459-8423.

West Michigan Media Directory Updated

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The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has updated its Local Media Directory. Over the years, GRIID’s Media Directory has helped countless progressive organizations in Grand Rapids contact the local media. In addition to the Directory, GRIID also has a “Media Toolkit” available online that can help organizations make more effective use of the media. Finally, GRIID can help organizations develop their own media strategies. Contact GRIID for more information.

Making Sense of US Foreign Policy: A 6-week Workshop

griid logo

Do you want to make sense of what the US is doing globally? What motivates US policy in the occupation of Iraq, why does the US unconditionally support Israel, why is the US trying to overthrow the democratically elected government in Venezuela?

These questions and many more will be explored in a 6-week workshop with the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID). We will use Bill Blum’s book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, plus additional handouts, documentaries and online resources.

The workshop is designed to discuss US foreign policy since WWII, politically, economically and militarily. We will discuss issues such as US intervention, torture, sanctions, use of proxy forces, war crimes, trade policies, the US relationship to the United Nations and other international agencies like the IMF and World Bank. Included will be an investigation of how US media factors into what we know about US foreign policy.

Part of the 6-week workshop will also include discussion about how our understanding of US policy determines what kind of actions we take to resist those policies. We will discuss the difference between tactics and strategies and look at the importance of social movements for bringing about structural change.

* The class will meet Mondays from 7-9pm beginning April 7 at 1134

Wealthy SE, in the Bloom Collective space.

* The cost of the workshop is $25, which includes the cost of the book.

* Workshop is limited to 10 people, with a minimum of 4 participants.

For more information or to sign-up, contact Jeff Smith jsmith@mediamouse.org or 616-459-8423.

Media Alert: Email WOOD TV 8 About Military Recruiting Story

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The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has issued a media alert regarding a story on military recruiting that ran on West Michigan’s WOOD TV 8:

On November 12, WOOD TV 8 ran a story on a local man who has been trying to join the military but has been unable to because of his criminal record. In light of recruiting shortages, the military has been relaxing its rules to allow people to enlist if they have a criminal record. Despite this, the local man in the story has been unable to join the military because of a domestic violence charge against his girlfriend. The story only spoke with the man and two military representatives and failed to get an alternative perspective on the issue. Such a story could have placed the issue of domestic violence into the larger context of sexual assault in the military.

Send a Letter Telling WOOD TV you are Disappointed with the Story:

http://citizenspeak.org/node/1170

View the Story (includes video and transcript):

http://www.mediamouse.org/griid/dissecting.php?artId=343

For additional news analysis, visit the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy’s (GRIID) “Dissecting the Local News Feature” at:

http://www.mediamouse.org/griid/dissecting.php

For additional media literacy resources, including studies of local news coverage, visit:

http://www.mediamouse.org/griid/

Report Examines Six Months of Press Coverage of Latin America

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy has released a new report analyzing and examining the Grand Rapids Press’ coverage of Latin America over a six month period. It is the 35th report that GRIID has done on the local media since 1998.

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has released a new report examining the Grand Rapids Press’ coverage of Latin America from February 1 to July 31, 2007. The following analysis and summary is excerpted from the report, which also includes the full text of all articles printed in the Press on Latin America during the study period and a list of recommendations for future coverage:

There were a total of 68 news stories that ran in the Grand Rapids Press during our 6-month survey. There were also 85 Briefs, short summaries that were only a few sentences long, but we will only look at the content of the full news stories.

There were a number of stories (21) that dealt with disasters, both natural and human. In fact, in the last 10 days of the study the Press ran 4 stories and several Briefs just about a plane crash in Brazil. Comparatively, most serious news stories did not receive that kind of follow up after an initial incident. Even the Roman Catholic Pope’s visit to Latin America in May only garnered 5 stories in the Press. There were also 11 stories that are labeled as “Fluff,” since they dealt with items such as the Anna Nicole Smith saga in the Bahamas (Feb. 19) or the 14.5 lbs. baby in Mexico (Feb. 1). There were also 11 stories with an environmental/archeological theme that tended to focus on scientific finds that relied primarily on US-based spokespersons.

Topics that generated more coverage were drugs, trade/economic policies, political violence, and the Bush visit to Latin America between March 8 and March 14. With the stories on drugs or the so-called “drug war” most of them dealt with isolated arrests. Not one story mentioned or evaluated the US funding of the “war on drugs” in the Andean region, nor the drug crop eradication program. Stories with a political violence theme tended to report on isolated actions or human rights violations, but again no substantive reporting on US military aid to the region and its use.

Economic themes were reported in stories/briefs a total of 22 times, but again the stories were mostly of isolated economic outcomes without much context or examination of policy. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) are never mentioned in the coverage even though these trade agreements involve 7 Latin American countries. The very first story in the study is a good indication of how economic issues were reported on. The February 1 article reports that thousands of Mexicans were protesting the increased cost of tortillas, but the story provides little information on the reasons for the increase in cost or how the organizers of the protest understood this issue. the Grand Rapids Press version of the AP story excluded most of the protestors’ positions, but even the original full-length story did not include any economic policy context.

President Bush’s visit to Latin America in the second week of March was reported on in 7 articles during the study. In several of the stories it is reported that Bush was meet by protestors. The first story that ran in the Grand Rapids Press was on March 8 and included these comments from Bush, ‘”The trip is to remind people that we care,” Bush said in an interview Wednesday with CNN En Espanol. “I do worry about the fact that some say, ‘Well the United States hasn’t paid enough attention to us,’ isn’t anything more than worried about terrorism.’ And when, in fact, the record has been a strong record.”‘ The reporter never verifies Bush’s claims that the US indeed has a “strong record” on caring about the people of Latin America. Most of the reporting on the Bush visit also tended to frame them as Bush vs. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The headline of March 8 reads “Chavez plans to bedevil Bush on Latin tour,” March 10 “Bush, Chavez duel amid protests,” and March 12 says, “Chavez pushes for socialist counterattack against US.” In these stories the primary sources used were Bush and other Latin American heads of state, rather than the individuals and popular movement groups that organized the protests.

In looking at which countries received the most attention in the study, Mexico is first with 35 stories/Briefs, followed by Cuba (27) and Venezuela (25). The Mexico stories covered a variety of topics – economic, drugs, immigration and President Calderon’s policies, but the stories on Venezuela and Cuba tended to focus on the leaders of those countries – Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Many of the stories on Castro (14) were updates on his health, but there were also stories that were critical of the economic conditions in that country. Some examples were an April 29 story headlined “Life in Cuba long, not always good,” and a June 10 headline that read, “Cuban meals include rations.” The June 10 article was to announce a plan by the AP reporter to see how it is like to live on a fixed Cuban income for a month. The question to raise here is why do this experiment just in Cuba? Why didn’t the Associated Press have reporters do the same thing in countries like El Salvador, Haiti or Colombia? The way that Cuba and Venezuela were reported on in this 6-month period is in line with the current US State Department’s position towards Cuba and Venezuela. Does this mean that the Associated Press does not act independently of US policy or did the Grand Rapids Press decide to run stories that were reflective of the government position?

Lastly, there were a limited amount of sources used in stories, with the emphasis on government spokespersons and people in other official capacity – scientists, business people, and entertainers. When citizens of Latin America were cited it was either in isolated instances of trivial matters or as people protesting government action. Rarely did the perspectives of women, workers, indigenous people, people who work the land, human rights workers, and those involved in popular movements. This is worth noting, especially since there is a tremendous amount of civic engagement throughout Latin America with popular movements participating in everything from worker run factories in Argentina, to indigenous organizing in Bolivia, or the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil. If one were to rely on the Grand Rapids Press as the primary source for reporting on Latin America they would have a very limited and somewhat biased understanding of the region and its relationship to the US. We encourage people to communicate with the Grand Rapids Press about these findings and have included a list of recommendations for future reporting on international news.

The report is one of 35 reports produced by GRIID since 1998 on the local broadcast and print media’s coverage of a variety of issues ranging from gender to war. Additionally, GRIID provides regular analysis of stories in the local media as part of its “Dissecting the Local News” feature.

Changes to Dissecting the Local News Feature

Over the past few days, we have made a number of changes and additions to our Dissecting the Local News maintained as part of the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID). For those that have not seen it, the Dissecting the Local News feature takes stories run in the local corporate media, including television stations WXMI 17, WOOD TV 8, and WZZM 13 and the Grand Rapids Press, and analyzes them based on how they represent stories, what they chose to include or exclude, and how they inform viewers and readers. Part of the intent behind the project has always been to increase the public’s engagement with the news media, encouraging people to both become more critical users of the media and also to contact the media when stories are unacceptable. To this end, we have made it so that each story now includes contact information for the relevant news outlet, making it easier for people to email, call, or write media outlets about their coverage. In addition, we have also begun adding video clips in addition to transcripts of the stories, you can see a recent WXMI 17 story on Aquinas dropping Coke for an example.

Some recent pieces in the Dissecting the Local News section include:

06/15/07: President Clinton Comes to Grand Rapids

06/13/07: WZZM 13 Promotes Amway

06/08/07: Giuliani Takes a stand on terrorism?

06/07/07: Giuliani in Grand Rapids Thursday for a fundraiser

06/07/07: Automakers get no help on fuel-efficiency rules

06/07/07: Aquinas College Bans Coke

Additionally, an RSS feed for this section has been added.

2006 Newzees Awards Fundraiser for GRIID

The 2006 Newzees Awards, the annual fundraiser for the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID), will take place on December 8, 2006. The Newzees will highlight the “best of the worst” of local television news reporting which in past years has meant stories about cats locked in houses, Osama bin-Laden urinal covers, and a slew of product placements. After watching the worst clips in a variety of categories, the audience will be able to vote for the worst story for each category. It’s always an entertaining way to celebrate the important work that GRIID does, from their election coverage projects to maintaining the Progressive Directy of Western Michigan. In order to get people excited about the Awards–which will take place at 7:00pm at the Wealthy Theatre–GRIID has produced the following trailer: