Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Englishphobic Pravda

The Russophobic BBC - Pravda.Ru

How ironic is it for Pravda (of all papers) to accuse the BBC of muck-raking ... and then launch into a short tirade on the UK's participation in Iraq. Apparently, Pravda-logic is that if the UK is part of the Iraq coalition, than anything the BBC writes is somehow invalid. Thankfully this article was in Pravda's opinion column - all too often the "news" from that tabloid is opinion in the pale disguise of news.

As I posted yesterday, the BBC's latest article on Russia was about rapidly growing internet use - growth which has far exceeded projections. I didn't see that as a muck-raking article ... I'm not sure any rational person would.

If I had to choose between the journalistic integrity of the BBC versus Pravda ... my vote will be for the BBC. I've certainly seen enough crazy tirades from the rag known as Pravda to last a lifetime (which is why I typically don't read it - this opinion column appeared on Topix).

As a last note, I have a general problem with the term "phobia" or "phobic" being used in this context in any case. Phobia's are irrational fears, with a clear psychological meaning. To dislike something is not a phobia ... it is simply to disapprove or dislike or even just to criticize. Attaching the term "phobia" is a tool to instantly discredit or to paint a point of view as irrational. It is a misuse (to my mind) that is perpetrated by many other English-language media sources as well.


Sean Guillory said...

While I sympathize with the view that most English language reporting, especially American reporting, on Russia is bad, Pravda has some gall charging anyone with muckraking. Like with Mosnews, I assume that half the articles are completely fake and the other half questionable. Only sometimes you will find a serious article. For me Pravda and Mosnews are more sources of entertainment much like many American news outlets.

W. Shedd said...

I think that many US media outlets typically offer only superficial reporting on Russia. Many of the stories are skewed simply because of the "Western" point of view. It is pretty difficult to overcome an east-west bias ... simply because of the differing cultures. I would say the same regarding many news articles about the US or West written in even more serious Russian newspapers. I've read enough news articles from both sides that I can almost repeat the boiler-plate framework of each cultures news stories about the other.

Probably if I had stepped back and thought about it for a few moments, I wouldn't have wrote anything about that Pravda article. It was written by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey who was pissed me off more times than I can count, with is deliberately ignorant statements and poor "reporting". I suspect that is his position there, to attempt to provoke a reaction. As I said, I typically avoid Pravda simply because I have learned better. It is shameful that it is likely the first and only Russian newspaper name most Americans could name.

Alex(ei) said...

The Pravda associated with Pravda.ru is a marginal, obscure publication nobody reads in Russia. They were smart enough to grab the (in)famous domain name, though.

Sturmovik said...

Kommersant and Moskovskij Komsomolets are about the only ones I read anymore, Pravda is an afterthought as a media source, even in Russia.

andrei said...

The Pravda you're referring to is just an internet tabloid that has nothing to do with "real" Pravda (at least 5 competing Pravdas today fight for the right to have the legacy of USSR Pravda).
Pravda.ru is interesting because it has an English version (very rare, as you know).
Talking about content - sometimes it's fun, sometimes outright stupid. All in all it's fun. Just don't strain your brains too much while reading it.
Do you read Moscow Times? What do you think of Chris Floyd columns?

W. Shedd said...

Yes, I've learned some time ago that Pravda.ru isn't really a relevant news source. I shouldn't have clicked on that headline when I saw it on Topix! :-)

I read the Moscow Times, but lately I've been reading it less. Chris Floyd is sort of a more articulate version of Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey. I'll sometimes read Chris Floyd, but typically avoid TBH like the plague - his point of view is pretty skewed even to Russian eyes, I think.

I don't like Bush, didn't vote for him, and I'm eager to see him out of office so the US can change course on some foreign and domestic policies. But both Chris Floyd and TBH have written columns that make me say "hey, wait a minute here - that stuff isn't factual and can't be laid at Bush's feet". I mean, I would love to blame him for more problems in the world - but it just isn't factual to do so.

Most famously, I wrote a response to a TBH column a few years ago regarding Russian water tanker planes (Ilyushin-76TD). He basically blamed Bush directly for these planes not being used to fight California wild-fires, and said their lack of being used resulted in loss of homes, etc. My response was - Bush has quite enough to be blamed for, without manufacturing things like that. The US Forest Service evaluated the possible purchase Il-76's back in 92 or 93 and decided they were actually too big and weren't efficient, using too much water resources, etc. Their judgement was the plane wasn't as effective in mountainous terrain as well. And they stuck with that policy (right or wrong) since that time - well before Bush. Like he is going to tell fire fighters how to do their job, and dictate that they buy a Russian plane - against the evaluation of so-called experts? That would play well ...

I was variously accused on bulletin boards of being a Bush-crony or an obvious planted propagandist or spy, etc. Because I am from NH and not California, there was some general presumption that I have no knowledge of forest fires (as if it was relevant - I simply quoted and cited news articles).

Tim Newman said...

I'm not a massive fan of Bush, but I support most of his foreign policy objectives, if not the means by which he is trying to achieve them.

What annoys me most about Bush's critics is exactly what you say: there is plenty, nay mountains, of stuff with which to criticise Bush; why resort to making stuff up. Half my time on the internet is spent defending Bush or the US against the most blatantly false charges, and I end up coming across as a die-hard defender of all that is Bush. It says volumes about Bush's critics that this is how they act, and their failure at electing an alternative reflects this.

I recall Nathan at Registan saying a similar thing about Karimov some time ago. He says he ends up defending Karmiov against ridiculous and false charges, when there is so much material for legitimate criticism, that he ends up looking like a Karimov supporter.

W. Shedd said...

Tim, I think you are exactly right. I didn't question regime change in Iraq, but if the US and UK are going to be the point men in doing that, they damn well better not muck it up.

And yes, critics invent the most crazy things. I've spent some time over the past month writing refutations of 9/11 conspiracy theories. It started with my challenging some American ex-pat woman living in France, who had a bunch of like-minded friends chirping in regarding a conspiracy video. She went on to say that her posting was for discussion of ideas or to challenge people - but it was far far from that. It was adding credibility to the incredible.

Since that time, I've done some posts, citing structural engineers, basic structural engineering regarding connections, heat, slenderness ratios of columns, compressive strength of concrete, etc. to refute wacked out ideas that the WTC collapse was a demolition job not caused by the planes.

And I get painted into the corner of defending or explaining Bush quite often as well. Maybe I provoke similar responses in Russians who are critical of Putin - my remarks at times probably seem ham-handed.