Friday, January 30, 2015

Remember when? Free Press

Remember when, or if not from personal memory, from the lessons of history, the bad old days of the propaganda mouthpieces, Izvestia and Pravda?

Pravda was the mouthpiece of the Communist Party in the old Soviet Union; then old drunk Russian president Boris Yeltsin seized it and sold it off to a Greek family after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 1997, the Communist Party in Russia bought it back. The Communist party celebrated the 100th anniversary of Pravda in 2012. They were always more of a propaganda print media organ, than a legitimate new organization.

Izvestia had been the official propaganda newspaper of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991. After that it was bought up by an oligarch with 'close ties to the government'. Then in 2005, it changed hands again and has operated to 2008, under the ownership of Gazprom, returning to more direct state ownership again. (Gazprom is state owned, for those who don't track such things.) In 2008, Gazprom sold off Izvestia, per the BBC report on Russia media in 2013, back into the oligarch orbit/ control of Vlad Putin:
In May 2008, Gazprom sold its majority stake on to the SOGAZ insurance company. SOGAZ is part of a group controlled by the St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya, whose co-owner, Yuriy Kovalchuk, is widely reported to be a close associate of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
 What happened to Pravda? From the same BBC piece:
Since then, it has built its reputation on a gentle nostalgia for the Soviet period, firm backing for Kremlin policy and a keen interest in celebrity news and scandal from home and abroad. Russian energy group YeSN emerged as the newspaper's largest shareholder in 2007, buying up stock from the Prof-Media holding company and the Norwegian media group A-Pressen.
Both Pravda and Izvestia are still publishing, pretty much whatever they're told to publish, with whatever spin the party or government, sometimes the same thing, sometimes less so, direct them to propagandize.

Add to that the government owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta,the 'new' officially, openly government owned daily, which started up in 1990 when the Soviet Union dissolved. Again per the BBC:
Rossiyskaya Gazeta is Russia's main government-owned newspaper. It was set up by the Russian government in 1990, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and remains fully government-owned. The paper is authorised to publish all new laws in full, at which point the legislation enters into force. Despite its affiliation, it has been known to voice criticism of ministerial policy. The paper's managing director has in the past dismissed the widely-held view that it is the official government organ, instead describing it as an "independent media outlet". According to surveys quoted on the paper's internet site, its readers are "well-balanced adults, inclined to adopt conservative views".
Sound familiar? Conservative AND well balanced, where have we seen that claim  here in the west?

We know from observing right wing media, where they just make up stuff.....that rhymes with rift and miffed, that conservative views seem to go well with propaganda.

So it should come as no surprise in the list of government owned and operated press, that Governor and possible presidential wannabe Mike Pence wanted his own India Izvestia, up until it got too much attention from the real 4th estate. Because hey, the current right wing nuts all love Putin, who has his own tame media outlet, so why not take a page from his play book?

Apparently lovin' all over Putin is ok, but imitating Stalin with tax $$$ still gets you the stink-eye.

From the paper that broke the story, the appropriately named IndyStar:
The Indianapolis Star broke the news of plans to begin a state-run news outlet late Monday. Planning documents obtained by The Star spoke of having press secretaries write "stories" and having the "news service" compete with other, independent media outlets on stories.

The plan quickly became the object of ridicule across the nation, drawing comparisons to state-run media in countries such as North Korea and China. Some outlets dubbed the Pence news service "Pravda on the Plains."

Pence and his staff slowly walked back the idea throughout the week before Pence finally pulled the plug Thursday. Pence went on conservative talk radio Wednesday to attempt to distance himself from the plan but was pressed by host Greg Garrison to say he would reject any state-run news service his staff built.

Meanwhile, Pence's communications staff, which crafted the plan, attempted to allay concern among Statehouse reporters in an odd, sometimes emotional meeting that worked as one part counseling session and another part press briefing. Toward the end of the session, Pence communications director Christy Denault said that use of terms such as "managing editor" and "news stories" had been poor "shorthand" on their part and promised that they were not creating a state news service.
Of course, the problem with this statement, that Pence et al were NOT attempting to create a state news service is that all the documents show that was EXACTLY what they were doing, AND that despite denials, Pence knew about it and apparently both approved and initiated the concept. You know -- lying. Because that is what propaganda is, carefully constructed lies to obscure the truth. It is also consistent with an administration that is NOT transparent, and does NOT allow press access, that they would simply want to create their own in-house propaganda machine so they could exclude other media as much as possible.

The latest IndyStar reporting continued:
Denault also insisted that the JustIN plan was only in a draft form and that she had always planned to reach out to Indiana media and news organizations for their input on the idea.

But the documents that were circulated among state agency press staff last week had the feel of a finished product - with a style guide that included branding and story-formatting guidelines. JustIN Managing Editor Bill McCleery, a former Indianapolis Star reporter, asked press staff to submit two "evergreen stories" each by Feb. 6, to be ready for a late-February rollout of the news service.

Pence's proposal drew criticism from the left and right throughout the week.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, prodded Pence throughout the week, saying that he had ordered Russian translation software for the rollout of the new Pence news service. Bosma did get serious in his weekly news conference and said that Pence's JustIN brand had been damaged so badly that it had to go.

"He absolutely made the right decision here. It was branded at this point and needed to go away," Bosma said.

Democrats, who had tried earlier in the day to defund the project through a legislative maneuver, cheered the move Thursday but asked why Pence waited so long.

"What resulted was several days' worth of ridicule for our state from all sectors," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.

The Pence news service story also unearthed longstanding frustrations over a lack of access for Indiana reporters with an administration that often promised improved transparency. Pence communications staff often brush off questions for reporters' stories throughout a typical day and then seek "corrections" after stories are published.

The Society of Professional Journalists, which had put Pence on notice earlier in the week, announced some relief Thursday that he had ditched the idea but said underlying problems of access would need to be addressed.

"In addition to improved access to press releases and notices, it's the Society's hope that journalists have unrestricted access to all public officials and employees," SPJ Ethics Chairman Andrew Seaman said in a statement. "Open communication between officials and journalists is an important step toward an enlightened citizenry, which the Society considers as the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy."


Tully: Mike Pence's horrible idea


Swarens: Governor, kill the Pence "News" Agency now


Pence: I learned about state-run media in Star report


Pence state-run news outlet will compete with media

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