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Filmmaker: Major media do not present the whole story to public
Barbara Trent speaks on war, censorship at Elon College Event
By Lea Delicio
Times-News, November 11, 1999
Barbara Trent believes todayÁs media give a narrow view of events that is heavily influenced by their corporate sponsors.
Trent, co-founder of the Empowerment Project and an Academy Award winner for her film documentary ËThe Panama DeceptionÓ spoke Wednesday night at Elon College about the economic factors in the United States that lead to censorship in the media.
ËBecause we have a free press, people assume weÁre getting all the information,Ó Trent said.
Trent said the major newspapers are all carrying a homogenized version of the news because they are all allowed access to the same places.
She also said reporters are guilty, like all human beings, of self-censorship: They are writing what they believe their bosses want to hear.
And their bosses are subject to the corporations that own them. For instance, CBS is owned by Westinghouse and NBC is owned by General Electric, she said.
The result, when it comes to media coverage of wars, is that the media puts out an image that war is good.
ËWar is profitable,Ó Trent said of the mindset of the mediaÁs corporate owners. ËThere is no profit in peace.Ó
She said the corporations that own the media are also the corporations building and selling the bombs used during wartime.
She said the companies like General Electric and Westinghouse can profit off the bombs and then profit after the war in helping to rebuild war-torn areas.
ËWe are now rebuilding Kosovo, a country which we bombed to heck,Ó Trent said.
Trent also said people in the United States are isolated in the views they receive from the major networks and major newspapers. While some media outlets may be liberal and others conservative, they still only portray the United StatesÁ point of view, she said.
Trent said she further learned of the censorship in the media when she tried to make her film, ËThe Panama Deception,Ó which documents the United StatesÁ invasion of Panama in 1989.
She said she learned that when the United States goes to war, the Pentagon more or less Ëpicks names out of a hat,Ó as to which news agencies will be able to go to the front line and all others are denied access.
ËMy name is not in the hat because I donÁt play by the rules,Ó Trent said, adding that she believes the ËrulesÓ include kissing up. She said the news agencies that went were big name agencies that Ëkissed upÓ to the government.
The result was she had to foot the cost herself and through sponsors to make the trip to Panama and make her film.
While her group went in and talked to soldiers and civilians who were affected by the war, the major networks continued to take a very narrow view and only go where the Pentagon escorted them.
ËThese are all reasons why you donÁt get alternative points of view,Ó she said.
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