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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The future is here

The Clinton Global Initiative, held recently in New York, aimed to "concentrate a diverse and select group of current and former heads of state, business leaders, noteworthy academicians, and key NGO representatives to identify immediate and pragmatic solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems."

Fine words, if you don't choke on the claim that it was to be "nonpartisan." To claim that representatives from the Democratic and Republican side of politics makes the event "nonpartisan", leaves Clinton living in a world of delusion.

One of the most interesting events was "Managing Major Media Companies in an Era of Globalization". The speakers were certainly the major players of the game:

- William Clinton, Former President of the United States
- Richard Parsons, Chairman and CEO, Time Warner, Inc.
- Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corporation
- Howard Stringer, Chairman and CEO, Sony Corporation of America

The assembled men all represent corporations that place profit ahead of news judgement and are hardly in a position to be talking about global access to information or spreading democratic values.

This is Murdoch on Tony Blair:

"Tony Blair - perhaps I shouldn't repeat this conversation - told me yesterday that he was in Delhi last week. And he turned on the BBC world service to see what was happening in New Orleans. And he said it was just full of hate of America and gloating about our troubles. And that was his government. Well, his government owned thing. And that's pretty general through Europe today as a fact of life. I think we've got to do a better job at answering it. And there's a big job to do. But you're not going to ever turn it around totally. We just have to get on doing what we think is right."

His claims are laughable, of course. Murdoch belongs to the school of "thought" that dictates any criticism of the American administration as automatically anti-American. He's not alone in such simplistic morality.

Such talk-fests are insightful because they prove how insular and removed from reality such power-brokers really are. How would Murdoch have any idea about life under autocratic regimes? He's long courted the Chinese authorities.

A capitalist system dictates a profit-driven agenda. Expecting news organisations to rise above some considerations is both naive and dangerous. Alternatives are needed.


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