September 28, 2006

Manipulated media

A 22 year old Oxford graduate and aspiring journalist, Willem Marx, had a stint in Baghdad as an intern in a US PR firm. Which resulted in a lengthy, but engaging, account of how the US forces make/fake news for media consumption. Willem interned with a PR-firm that processed military-fed material into news reports and features and flogged them, as reports sourced from ‘independent’ agencies, to Iraqi media - print, TV and radio.

The media was paid for their publication. A newspaper charges anything from $50 to $1.500 a piece. TV and radio commanded a much higher fee.

The PR company made millions. Its total earnings during the two months of Willem's internship was $19 mill. The company got $ 20,000 for every news story it placed in the Iraqi media. Placement of 32-op-ed articles and 80 half-page advertisement fetched $400,000. Plastering Baghdad with 140,000 posters meant another $400,000. The company also designed nine Internet news sites (for $2,500 each) and produced five DVDs ($ 580,000).

Willem Marx article, a must-read for reporters and other media-related folk, appears in AlterNet

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