Monday, August 28, 2017

RT - (formerly Russia Today) News America?

I'm having mixed feelings about RT, the Russian State news network formerly and more accurately know as Russia Today. Another concern is the Russian Sputnik News Service,.An article from Politico explains what it is like dealing with a state sponsored agency like this:

From my first day at Sputnik, I truly believed that even at a Russian state-owned news service, I could do good work so long as I maintained my own ethical standards. I even believed that Sputnik’s stated mission—to “tell the untold”—is one worth undertaking. Other state-owned news services aim to report stories ignored by other outlets, and to provide a different perspective on the news. Many of them do an excellent job.

But when the “untold” is untold because it’s not true, and the “alternative perspective” is a way to push a hostile government’s agenda by tearing down the reputation of other nations, all the ethics in the world can’t help you. I thought Sputnik wanted me for my skills as a journalist, but what they wanted was to use the veneer of journalism to push their own agenda. I won’t make the mistake of taking someone like Martinichev at his word again.

That is where the problem and concern with agencies like Sputnik as well as RT, lay.

Seemingly too many American journalists and show hosts are jumping on the RT bandwagon. I'm very wary of RT for various reasons in having a very clear and historical understanding of Russian and before them, Soviet disinformation tactics. I don't doubt they may inject specific and targeted tactical information.

For reference, here's a Columbia Journal Review article and one from The Guardian about RT bank account closures in Britain, both from January 2017. Here's another from the New York Times ("Russia's RT Network: Is It More BBC or K.G.B.?):

The agencies issued a report saying the attack was carried out through the targeted use of real information, some open and some hacked, and the creation of false reports, or “fake news,” broadcast on state-funded news media like RT and its sibling, the internet news agency Sputnik. These reports were then amplified on social media, sometimes by computer “bots” that send out thousands of Facebook and Twitter messages.

Another is from Bloomberg , both from May 2017.

From Bloomberg article above, "At RT, News Breaks You"... Did you know? About 17 million U.S. households subscribe to Spectrum, the television provider formerly known as Time Warner Cable. Those in New York City, whether they know it or not, also subscribe to the Russian-funded news outlet RT. Customers can locate it by scrolling past the Chinese Channel and the Africa Channel and into the triple digits, until RT’s radioactive-green logo appears on screen.

From The Economist, June 2017, "America's Answer to Russian Propaganda TV (Current Time Broadcasts in Russian from Capital Hill) [and I don't think they only mean in the Russian language which it is, but the Russian way of thinking]":
Russia’s slickly produced English-language version of RT, featuring American and west European presenters and guests, could pass at times for a non-Russian channel, save for the messages the channel delivers (many of them, in 2016, attacking Hillary Clinton and supporting Mr Trump). The network is just one stream of what RAND Corporation, a think-tank, calls Russia’s "firehose of falsehood”. People do not even have to trust Russia’s propaganda outlets for this saturation strategy to work. Detektor Media, a Ukrainian NGO, found in a survey that only 1.3% of Ukrainians trusted Russian TV channels for news about the conflict in the country’s Donbas region. Yet in the same poll, more than a third of respondents believed the official Russian line on it.

On the other hand it occurs to me that America of late is really quite dysfunctional. Russia does not really benefit from our dysfunction and it leaves us especially, with our whack job of a president in Donald J Trump.

IF RT were to do what they claim, to give us (mostly) free and honest information without corporate and capitalistic maneuverings as our own media does, it could actually be a benefit to all involved. As in an environment where there is no monopoly, it could affect our own media and news in a positive way. One can only hope, anyway.

Let's face it, our media sucks too much of the time. Not all of it, there are some very good reporters and journalists out there. But the nature of our media is such that it requires some degree of pandering to the audience. Give them what they want, less than give them what they need.

I watch about an equal amount of non American news just to balance reality. Watching your enemies is a very good way to get a balanced view of things, even if they are lying.

It's not that our media is state news, or bad news, or corporate news, it's just that if nothing else, in a capitalistic society, news takes a certain slant regardless. In no longer being a loss leader for a network, it has become complicit in catering to news we simply do not need and should not have.

I remember decades ago people crying out for some lighter news in the news. How about a nice short story about a fuzzy doggy? Well, they heard them and we now have that. Much to our detriment. It probably has something to do with our educational system crashing and burning because we won't fully fund schools, we've abused and ignored them, and we've treated our teachers like garbage.

I fully believe we need to better understand Russia and they us. We need more dialog not less. Same goes for Iran, and North Korea. But I find it hard to believe we will see much progress on this plane until Putin is gone. He has been in control for far too long and has to go. He is corrupt. He is a murderer, in at very least ordering executions and assassinations. The FSB, once the KGB, which Putin "grew up" in, has as an arm of it's reach, the Russian Mafia, as it has always been. Crime and State tied closely together. Putin is doing nothing to correct that. In deed, he relies on it.

We have a similar situation in America with Donald J Trump who also needs to go even in being in control for only the short amount of time he has been, as well as the mindset that follows him around like a terminally bad case of genital herpes.

As we have seen with our less informed and more poorly news vetting fellow Americans who only watch news sources such as Fox News, or Breitbert, you cannot only watch news from a single source. You need at least three as in the old journalism methodology of vetting any news from at least three triangulated news sources that are not similar nor connected in anyway. In that way you can trust news you discover and only then, after reflection and analysis, submit it to others.

What we see in too many people is they trust not only questionable news sources, but memes that anyone can and do make up. We have seen this far too much in conservatives, Republicans and Trump supporters where they do not research even a single level into the news. Especially if they agree with it.

They do not research down into several layers, much of which immediately can show some news to be utterly false and may even explain why it exists, which may give one an entirely new side of things. But we are too untrained in this, we are too busy, or simply too lazy. I blame our schools system over past decades for making this even worse, and which has been targeted by the Republican party and American's ignorance in general about our educational system and exactly all it affects in how we have been treating it and our teachers.

What worries me about entities like RT is that even if they show what we should and need to see, they may show it in a way we don't even notice is making us uncomfortable so we discount what we need to count, and count what we need to discount.

So maybe an RT network could work to our benefit, and Russia's as well. However, we have GOT to always be 100% aware they are, first and foremost, a Russian State news agency.

#RT #RussiaToday #RussianStateTV #Putin #POTUS

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