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Occupy Wall Street Ignored?

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China Power

Occupy Wall Street Ignored?

A leading Chinese newspaper asks whether the US media is ignoring the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.

Often at the receiving end of US criticism over censorship, China’s media is no doubt delighted to have the chance to be able to turn the tables on the United States.

For the past few weeks, hundreds of protesters have been demonstrating in New York under the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ banner. The demonstrators have a range of gripes over the state of America – not least the woeful state of the economy and what they argue is a destructive corporate greed that’s choking the prospects of the average worker.

But has the US media been paying attention? The China Daily says not. In an editorial, the paper’s deputy US editor, Chen Weihua, blasts what he says is a ‘shameful’ media blackout.

‘As a journalist, I have wondered why the so-called mainstream US media, which is either headquartered in New York or maintains a strong presence in the city, has chosen to ignore the prolonged demonstration since it started,’ Chen asks. ‘Why have those journalists, who made their names covering various protests around the world, suddenly become silent in reporting the mass rally? That clearly does not match their enthusiasm to cover demonstrations in recent months in places such as North Africa and the Middle East.’

Chen isn’t alone in sympathizing with the protesters’ plight. Financier George Soros has said he understands the growing frustration over the way the big banks have been bailed out. ‘The decision not to inject capital into the banks, but to effectively relieve them of their bad assets and then allow them to earn their way out of a hole leaves the banks bumper profits and then allows them to pay bumper bonuses,’ the BBC quoted Soros as saying.
Critics of the group have said that the protesters’ demands are unclear and unformed, a criticism that Chen dismisses.
‘I am not sure if they are all left-leaning, but a schedule I saw did include sessions on the Communist Manifesto and Spanish Revolution,’ Chen says. ‘Still, that does not justify a blackout imposed by the major news media outlets on such a prolonged protest.’

‘In fact, the message from the protesters is quite clear. They are against corporate greed and influence in American politics, economy and life. These protesters, who call themselves “The 99 Percent,” are angry about the huge amount of wealth collected by the top 1 percent of the population.’

The question, of course, is what the protesters would like to do about all this. In the Arab Spring uprisings there was an obvious impediment to progress towards the demonstrators’ goals, an impediment that could ultimately be removed – dictatorial regimes. In much of the Middle East and North Africa there is no election safety valve, leaving the protesters little choice. In the US case, the safety valve can be turned on next year. Yet while the removal of the Obama administration might satisfy some, it seems unlikely that many of those occupying Wall Street would view a Republican administration as the answer to their prayers.

In the meantime, as demonstrators grapple with such issues, Chen might be relieved to know that the media here in the United States has certainly ramped up coverage in the past day or two (although whether it’s enough will likely depend on the degree of sympathy you have for the protesters’ demands).

CBS News ran an opinion piece today on why ‘Occupy Wall Street’ captures the current moment, while New York magazine is one of a number of publications noting that the movement is ‘set to take the show on the road.’ On its website today, though, the New York Times keeps its coverage relatively low key, with the story only just making the top half a dozen main US stories of the day on its website.

Still, if demonstrators pull off many more stunts like the swarming of the Brooklyn Bridge at the weekend, they will be hard for any paper to side-line.