Posts tagged ‘blog’

23 February 2009

Guantanamo Bay and Discourse Analysis

The Duck of Minerva writes on experiences at the recent ISA conference, highlighting exceptional multimodal discourse analyses of the images of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The Duck ponders what I agree is now a pressing question: given current technologies, should academia not find a way of recognizing non-print research output (e.g., documentary films, online visual work)?

I attended several panels on discourse analysis. One panel focused on the study of images as discourse and featured two innovative graduate student papers investigating the discourse of photographs of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. The two papers revealed just how powerful these images have been world-wide, impacting the understanding of the US occupation of Iraq and War on Terrorism. Gitmo, in part, has become such a powerful international symbol because of the images the world has seen of prisoners there. As a field, we have historically focused on discourse as text, privileging the primary discourses of speeches and archival records. As a discipline, we ask researchers to publish papers and present without access to LCD displays. The presenter of the Gitmo paper managed to put up some color overheads, which made her presentation significantly more effective. And my question to them was–why are you writing a paper about pictures?

It would seem to me that there is room in the field for us to innovate beyond the 10,000 word journal article and engage the Web and digital media. James DerDerian, who was discussant on one of these panels, is doing some remarkable work with documentary film. The two papers on images would be so much more powerful as multi-media enterprises but the field has no way to recognize that. And, ISA has no way to present that to a panel.

2 January 2009

Niggemeier and the fifth estate

So, the fifth estate (the People; citizen’s journalism, social media) is to function as a check on the fourth estate (our beloved corporate news media; ‘the guardians of democracy, defenders of the public interest’). And Stefan Niggemeier has once again shown how it should be done (blog post in German, summarised here).

News story broken by news agency dpp: ‘Criminal investigators: Significantly more children killed in violent way’.

Evidence in dpp story: Statistics recently announced by the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter (BDK; Confederation of German Criminal Investigators; like the British CID) that in 2007, 173 boys and girls under 6 years old met violent deaths. Compared to UNICEF ‘estimates’ from 10 years ago, suggesting that about 100 children met violent deaths that year.

  • Problem 1: Dodgy comparitive data. The dpp journalists writes that ‘Children’s killings are not listed separately in the official criminal statistics’. Niggemeier doesn’t have to look further than the official website to find very explicit listings (produced annually) of not only the number of children killed, but also the various kinds of offense (pdf) and changes since 1987 (pdf).
  • Problem 2: The data released by the BDK for 2007 included attempted killings, even if the children did not die. This is the only year for which unsuccessful attempted killings were included. This could perhaps potentially suggest that the 2007 figure may be higher than previous years.

Nevertheless, Niggemeier tracks the story in a range of German news outlets: Zeit Online, Tagesspiegel, Kölner Stadtanzeiger, RP-Online, Welt and Spiegel Online. (Attesting again to the power of news agencies to set the news agenda).

He then does the investigative journalism required to argue that the number has not actually risen, it is at the very least stable, if not actually falling. (Details available on his website).


(Key: Gesamt = total; fahrl. Tötung = involuntary manslaughter; Totschlag = manslaughter; Mord = murder)

This kind of reporting exemplifies what the fifth estate (or even the fourth estate) can do on its best days. Abating, rather than intensifying, ‘moral panics‘.

15 October 2008

Should Russia trust the West?

This should prove provocative. has republished Stanislav Mishin’s list of sixteen reasons why Russia should never trust the West. Full details available on his blog Mat Rodina. All the key words are included: Putin, Georgia, Islam, Taliban, Bush, Chechnya, Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, oil, Kasparov, economy, democracy, Orthodoxy, Nazis, bombs…

  1. The West raped Russia
  2. The West supported Yeltsin as he massacred Parliament
  3. The West backed Chechen and other separatist elements
  4. The West expanded an alliance to include all of the Warsaw pact and parts of the former Soviet Union
  5. The West bombed Russia’s closest ally Serbia
  6. The West back every Jihad aimed at Orthodox Christians
  7. The West over threw Russia’s allies and set up puppet Socialist regimes
  8. The West actively supported sellout candidates in Russia with illegally given financial aid and revolutionary training
  9. The West financed the National Bolshevik (Socialist) Workers’ Party aka Nazis in Russia
  10. The West tore up its military agreements as soon as they became inconvenient
  11. The West stopped Russia from bombing the Taliban and gave them money…that is until the Taliban helped attack the West
  12. The West took Russia’s aid in the WOT, in Central Asia and in usual Western gratitude, tried to oust Russia from the area
  13. The West is putting missile interceptor silos that could as easily hold short range ballistic nuclear missiles right on Russia’s doorstep
  14. The West tried and failed to take control of Russian key oil resources and in revenge has waged a non-stop propaganda war against Russia for 7 years
  15. The West gives regular asylum to Islamic Jihadists wanted by Russia and to Russian criminals and criminal oligarchs while demanding Russia hand over her citizens on trumped up charges (extradition is illegal under the Russian constitution…not that laws matter to the West)
  16. The West despises Russian patriotism and Christianity and works hard to crush both

More recent post on Mat Rodina, in a similar style: The Global Credit Panic Is Russia’s Chance to Reverse the Status of Colony.

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27 September 2008

Applied discoursology

Applied discoursology posted on sweet-indiana‘s livejournal blog:

*Republican Sociology 101*

If you’re a minority and you’re selected for a job over more qualified andidates, you’re a token hire.
If you’re a conservative and you’re selected for a job over more qualified candidates, you’re a game changer.

Black teen pregnancies? A crisis in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A blessed event.

Grow up in Hawaii and you’re exotic.
Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers and you’re the quintessential American story.

If you name your kid Barack, you’re unpatriotic.
If you name your kid Track, you’re colorful.

A Democrat who picks a VP without fully vetting the individual is reckless.
A Republican who doesn’t fully vet is a maverick.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people, you are an arrogant celebrity.
If you are a popular Republican female candidate, you are energizing the base.

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions, you are presumptuous.
If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a maverick who shoots from the hip.

If you are a self-made man who recently finished paying off school loans, you are an elitist, out of touch with the real America.
If you are a legacy graduate of Annapolis, married to money, and don’t know how many homes you own, you are one of us.

If you attend a church on the south side of Chicago, your beliefs are extremist.
If you believe in creationism and don’t believe global warming is man made, you are strongly principled.

If you kill an endangered species, you’re an excellent hunter.
If you are raped and have an abortion, you’re a murderer. (And you had to pay the police for your own rape kit.)

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000; become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review; create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters; spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor; spend nearly 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people and becoming chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee; then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Veteran’s Affairs committees; and manage a multi-million dollar campaign; you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you’ve got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket.

5 September 2008

Russia and Georgia_blogs

Blogs from across the political spectrum have been amazed at the mainstream western coverage of the conflict between Russia and Georgia. They can’t understand why on earth Russia has been getting the sole blame for the conflict, in the face of independent evidence showing a more complex picture (or giving Georgia the initiative for the escalation).

A random selection in no particular order:

John Howarth. Georgia on our minds.

Dedroidify. Russia-Georgia Media Bias.

Alex Massie. Trouble in the Caucasus.

Spindoktor: Propaganda War in the Caucasus. (German)

Ron Jacobs. Georgia and Historical Farce.

Uwe Ludwig. Do the Americans really have to destabilize the whole world…?

Alex Jones. The BBC is deliberately distorting the news from the Georgia region.

Armchair General. Western media bias regarding Russia and Georgia.

Daniel Larison. Anti-Russian Bias.

Gregory Djerejian. Georgia on my mind.