Eye balls and leather balls: World Cup cricket final is here!

It’s finally here: Cricket’s Big Day (or Big Night, depending on where we are on the planet).

In the Cricket World Cup final today, defending champions Australia will meet 1996 World Champions Sri Lanka. The final game is to be played at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, in the cricket playing nations of the West Indies.

As I wrote in a post when the current series started, Sir Arthur Clarke will have to look very hard today for any signs of life across Sri Lanka.

The whole nation of 20 million people will have their eyes glued to whatever television screen they can find.

They will be joined by at least a couple of billion other eye balls in the rest of South Asia, where cricket-playing nations of Banglades, India and Pakistan saw their respective teams being eliminated in the World Cup’s seven weeks of build up in the Caribbean.

Talk about moving images moving people.

Not being an ardent cricket fan, I’ve not followed the series with the religious zeal of my many friends and colleagues. But just after filing this blog post, I’m off to see the finals on a giant, open air screen.

As Reuters reported recently, cricket fever has united — at least for now — the otherwise utterly and bitterly divided Sri Lankans. I just want to be part of that moment of unity, and yes, watch some good cricket too.

Tonight’s game will use probably a handful of professional leather balls used in cricket. As cricket fans tune in to live broadcasts worldwide, it’s fair to say that never before have so many eye balls followed the movement of so few leather balls.

May the best handlers of leather balls win.

And no matter who wins, TV broadcasters will be laughing all the way to the bank…

Bill Moyers: How the American media followed Pied Pipers of Pentagon

Bill Moyers has done it again.

The heavyweight of public interest broadcasting in America has turned the spotlight right at his own industry, asking how so many members of his profession could be so easily tamed and led astray by the Pied Pipers of Pentagon.

In Buying the War, a 90-minute documentary that aired on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) on 25 April 2007, Moyers explores the role of the press in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Buying the War includes interviews with Dan Rather, formerly of CBS; Tim Russert of MEET THE PRESS; Bob Simon of 60 MINUTES; Walter Isaacson, former president of CNN; and John Walcott, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of Knight Ridder newspapers, which was acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006.

Image courtesy PBS Bill Moyers

How did the mainstream press get it so wrong? How did the evidence disputing the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported?

“What the conservative media did was easy to fathom; they had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked. How mainstream journalists suspended skepticism and scrutiny remains an issue of significance that the media has not satisfactorily explored,” says Moyers.

“How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?”

The programme opened with the following words of Moyers:

Four years ago this spring the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster. The story of how high officials misled the country has been told. But they couldn’t have done it on their own; they needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on.

Since then thousands of people have died, and many are dying to this day. Yet the story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television. As the war rages into its fifth year, we look back at those months leading up to the invasion, when our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war.

The show has already drawn rave reviews. David Sirota says at WorkingforChange:

I went to journalism school because I thought journalism was about sifting through the B.S. in order to challenge power and hold the Establishment accountable. Bill Moyers and the folks I’ve gotten to know at McClatchy Newspapers who Moyers highlights show that that long tradition still exists. But the fact that they are such rare exceptions to the rule also show that the incentive system in journalism today is to reward not the people who challenge power, but the people who worship it. And though Tim Russert and Peter Beinart and Bill Kristol and Tom Friedman can kick back in Washington with their six figure salaries and tell themselves that they are really Important People, what we have seen is that they are part of a new journalistic culture that is threatening to destroy what once was a truly noble profession and undermine our democracy.”

Read the full transcript of Buying the War online

Watch Buying the War online at PBS website

Read the full review at David Sirota’s blog: When journalism became transcription and reporting disappeared

Thank you, Brundtland. Now for the unfinished business…

On 2 April 2007, I posted excerpts from a speech I made in Hyderabad, India, on the worldwide influence of Our Common Future, the final report of the Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development that came out 20 years ago this month.

I have now expanded on that theme in an op ed essay titled ‘Children of Brundtland coming of age’.

It has just been published by Green Accord, an Italian non-profit group that every year organises a gathering of leading environmental experts and journalists. The GreenAccord Forum on Media and Nature, held in an Italian city every Fall, is now the largest, regular gathering of its kind. I have been a participant or speaker at three past editions.

GreenAccord logo

Here are excerpts from my essay:

Brundtland did not invent the concept or term -– various versions had been around since the first UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972). But it was Our Common Future that took these mainly academic and inter-governmental discussions to a mass audience.

In doing so, it nudged the environmental movement to move up from simple pollution prevention, tree-hugging and whale-saving action to a much broader developmental agenda. Issues such as poverty, international trade, peace and security were integrated into one framework.

And, equally importantly, the report inspired a whole generation of young journalists, educators and activists worldwide. I was one of them: in that sense, we are all Children of Brundtland.

By happy coincidence, the report came out during my first year in science journalism, and significantly altered my outlook and priorities. My early fascination with mega-science topics such as space travel, genetic engineering and nuclear power gave way to an interest in issues of science for human survival and development. I haven’t looked back.

Some environmental journalists at GreenAccord Forum in Nov 2006

I then go on to question the continuing relevance of environmental journalism, and suggest that this kind of labelling has, inadvertently, ghettoised the media coverage of sustainable development issues.

I argue that we urgently need simple good journalism that covers sustainable development as an integral part of the mainstream of human affairs.

“We can’t engage in shoddy journalism in the name of saving endangered species or ecosystems. There is no substitute for plain good journalism.”

Photos courtesy: Zilia Castrillon

Read my full essay here

TVE Asia Pacific website news item on the last GreenAccord Forum in October 2006

Mediasaurus — and the rise of bloggers

Earlier this month, I referred to science fiction writer Michael Crichton’s 1993 Wired article titled ‘Mediasaurus’ — in which he talked about how television as we know it (or knew it, at the time) was doomed.

I’ve just come across this cartoon, which I can’t resist sharing.

Cartoonists are the social philosophers of our time. And no one else achieves a better economy of words.

Source: http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/ariaillg2.jpg