Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Media Mimicking Art but Mocking the Truth

It is not news to anyone in the blogosphere that the mainstream media is at heart a business and frequently a journalist’s or editor’s priority is their career rather than the merits of a story. This helps explain the tension that exists between the media and charities. The Guardian has a piece today which notes
Charities and the media can't do without each other, but it is not exactly a friendly relationship - sometimes it is fraught with tension, conflict and danger.

Such general sentiments are vague and of little use until cases are specified.
Harper's is a prestigious US magazine that seeks to ‘explores the issues that drive our national conversation’. Undoubtedly, in the wake of the Oscars, one of these issues has been the behaviour of Big Pharma in Africa as portrayed in the Constant Gardener.
This months Harper's runs a shocking expose (edited version here) that is an eerie echo of the damning fictional plot. It reports similar deaths as a result of wilful gross negligence, scandalous testing on AIDS patients and the intentional dressing up of dangerous drugs as safe in order to protect a well connected behemoth corporation.
What is even more shocking is how quickly the credibility of the report and that of author has been shredded. The South African Treatment Action Campaign, a group that fights for affordable treatment for HIV patients, has already taken time out from its life saving work to issue a report citing 56 errors in the story.
Stuart details some of the author’s background and her controversial beliefs.

A tense relationship indeed, watch this space to see how the blogosphere measures up.

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