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tv   The Stream 2018 Ep 63  Al Jazeera  April 18, 2018 10:32pm-11:01pm +03

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as the prime minister noticed a. big deficit we're going to leave we. now see some pointed. out that this is. cuba's national assembly has formally nominated vice president miguel diaz can no to become the island's next president d.s. canet who arrived at the meeting alongside the current data raul castro with the first person outside the castro family to rule cuba in almost sixty years turkey's president has called surprise early elections for june this year. announced that the vote originally shuttle for november twenty nine teen will now be held on june the twenty fourth means new greater powers for the president will come into force a year earlier than planned. chemical weapons experts who want to visit the site of an alleged chemical attack in syria have had their mission delayed after a u.n.
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security team traveling ahead of them was fired upon analysts from the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons be waiting to get in to do miss since saturday it's been eleven days since the alleged poison gas attack on the town. as president has pledged to revive the stagnant economy by opening up to foreign investment. was speaking at independence day celebrations in harare is the country's first ever independence day without robert mugabe as leader. because of headlines the stream is next more news for you after that by scorching scene of it .
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hi i'm really good today owning up to death bracelets reporting in the pages of national geographic well look at the one hundred and thirty year old magazines recent apology. your only. problem you aren't. how should media organizations atone for racists reporting of the past national geographic magazine recently apologized for a history of racism in its coverage of not western cultures and people of color around the world in this month's special the race issue the publication said it could not cover stories about race without acknowledging its own past and upholding certain stereotypes here is editor in chief susan goldberg in an interview with
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p.b.s. news hour so when we decided to do an issue devoted to race. i didn't think that we could do that in a credible way without looking at our own history you know there's so much of our history that we are so proud of that we have sent writers and explorers and scientists and researchers all over the world but it did feel important to me if we were going to look at race that we look at some of the things that we weren't quite as proud of. well known for its iconic photography national geographic had long portrayed nonwhite people as exotic primitive and uncivilized as part of its own examination the magazine us photography historian john edward mason to evaluate its coverage of people of color over the years and learn where it could have done better so joining us to discuss his findings is john edward makes sense who teaches african history and the history of photography at the university of virginia also with us from stonington connecticut is katherine lots a professor of anthropology at brown university she coauthored the one nine hundred
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ninety three book reading national geographic and joining us in london is she come to be an associate professor in the department of media and communications at the london school of economics now we reached out to national geographic for a representative to appear on this program but they declined our offer a welcome to all of our gas and if you're watching us on you tube suggest your comments are welcome and your questions and i'll try to get them into the show you can also tweet us at a.j. stream john how would you describe your relationship to the magazine of what's i have several issues here on my desk because so many of us around the world know this magazine very intimately because we grew up with it were you a reader sure absolutely i grew up in a middle class american family and if you grew up in a middle class american very likely your parents grew up with national national
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geographic and also very likely they never threw it away it was something like conic about the magazine. that made it almost impossible for people to toss it up like they told us. so yes i grew up reading it. i enjoyed it as a child as a child that took me to places that i had never showed me people had never seen before the photography was that. baby blue. the talk i don't think i've read the stories very early and the fact that i eventually became a historian up at harvard partly house to do with the way that the target be a challenge to me when i was a kid had the photography of national geographic in particular but i do have to say that i grew up as an african-american and so in the back of my mind. i was trouble point where. people were around and works to be represented. but i didn't have the time as
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a child i didn't have. to express those reservations. so you mentioned the photography and that is something that resonates with our community this is a tweet without from denver cube who says there is much that has not been covered correctly or fairly when it comes to race tense this narrative feeds the global image of so-called quote unquote savage land many people unfortunately had that narrative seared into their minds and it drives prejudice to come to that can you relate to what he's saying of an image seared into minds of a faraway places filled with savages. absolutely and it doesn't just have to be an image filled with savages i think one of the things one has to recognize is that you can have exotic images of things that look very beautiful and very good which might be the only image that somebody has in their head of a particular place and it has
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a strange effect in that other places which are next to that place might be very very similar but don't get the same kind of coverage and i'll give you the example which is if you take the two countries india and pakistan in the international media sphere often india gets associated with beauty and peace and an temples and the river ganges whereas pakistan seems to be almost uniformly represented as somehow the birthplace of terrorism and this is the case in south asian media it's the case in international western media too and when you talk to people you say what's your first thought when you talk to students you say what's your first thought about these places peacefulness and spirituality spring to mind immediately relating to india which is just as much a stereotype and just as much a deception as the notion that pakistan. is the but place of terror and i can see you nodding your head there what did you learn that surprise you upon going back through the archives through the photos to do this research well i have to say.
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that tweet that you just showed us resonated tremendously with me because i have two relationships with national geographic one is that child who was chanted by the americans and the other as the adult who sees through critical eye and by entirely . now when i was invited to go into their arca i was happy to see that national geographic was not the bits of it all and they won't be into their archives but i frankly wasn't surprised by what i had seen and that's partly because. one of our guests catherine let's coauthored a brilliant. national geographic that has become a classic and i certainly have read or that once and i read it again in anticipation of going into the archives so i was prepared to or what i found what was good to see was not simply images that had been published but images that had
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been unpublished so i was able to see help talk first when working i was able to see how the editorial process worked and it was an opportunity to do a really deep dive into the into national geographic it's published by all humans so i read much more thoroughly than we have in the us so this conversation would be nothing without solid examples and a to send so far and i'm going to take us through a couple of taps here and then catherine you want to jump in because of course he referenced your work that so many have read on this topic i welcome you to do that so take a look here this is from the archives timor ireland warriors wearing silver breastplates crowd around the photographer to see his camera on this is just one example here's another cut your most fiber of the world what are we looking at. here tom well what we're looking is looking at is a very stereotypical then prank lee the beating representation of african-americans in this particular issue this particular image that's on the parade right now and
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it harkens back to then stroll shows where african-americans were showed as happy in their oppression is seen as musical seen as willing subordinates it's an image that not only reproduces that reinforces but naturalizes and live should have mates racially oppressive system and you know not only being african-americans as in barriers but saying that this is a natural and. unnatural social system and one that african-americans willingly accept you know right now you're showing us an african-american butler who's arranging things in a relational us and he's filing us he doesn't so you sort of smiling in his subordination these are these images recurred time and time again in the magazine
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reinforcing in the minds of its readers that this was simply the natural and ordinary way that things work and this is in one thousand facets i had a press conference. well i was going to say that first photo you showed of the camera is a very common trope they would have many pictures of people with cameras looking at cameras with sort of amazement or looking in mirrors and in a sense some of the more subtle messages are about. people of color around the world being without history things are timeless and timeless present and some of the more subtle ways in which photographs communicate to us about race. and reinforce ideas that are out there are already in the readership about race i think those are really important for people to learn how to see because they're they're seeing them by just not recognizing that they are and i just jump in there that you mentioned because the thing that strikes me about that is the fact that it's white
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people and technology and this is a trait that we have been studying and seeing again and again through the yes and the frequency with which you see now someone with a wonderful camera as opposed to someone with some old technological to the whole will pick some kind of side although you see someone with new digital technology and a smartphone being looked at enviously by villages in a place where they've never seen that before children who've never seen that before this is carrying the idea that medinat see is white that modernity is technology just that you can't have modern ideas or political systems which don't rely on these kind of technological things and i think a good example of that would be the way in which facebook revolution became the trope which defined the middle east in two thousand and eleven a little though it was decades and decades of people working in many different ways using old media using graffiti to try and galvanize
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a kind of resistance to oppressive regimes and to hunger and poverty but none of that came across it suddenly became facebook and twitter which was west conventions . ok that's a story so she comes out here some of them might agree with you this is a tweet from candy who says for goodness sake how is the apology that i'll mention in a minute how is that supposed to help anyone not geo has entrenched the idea that only white people can discover engage in conservation of any form and that the darker races of earth do not care about conservation so that's just one example of vanity but i want to move to this apology that this person references in their tweet because of course we have this cover which came out this month this is the a pro twenty eighteen cover i'll show it to our audience rate here can see on my screen here and it's gotten a lot of conversation going online here is just one of the tweets from someone that will recognize oprah winfrey tweets and i read every article this issue was remarkable great job. of course not everyone felt similarly i want to
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share this article this is from the new yorker the national geographic twins and the pulse hood of our posts. future john sure you know your business yes please the floor is yours i think they're both right and i think oprah is exactly right it's an extraordinary issue with extraordinary writers and extraordinary talkers weller and from around the world who are not willing their functions in addressing issues of race so much of the criticism this issue. has not addressed at the time. but at the editor's letter the story on the two little girls now i think the story of the two little girls. is morally. the take away point is that race is simply
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a social construction and so it does matter but of course social constructions better races very it may be simply and i you know the reality. but it shapes the world in which people live it shapes oppression so i agree with the criticism they go that so many people saw the story about the little girls but i really encourage people to actually i'm to them the rest of the content. which is really extraordinary for a popular were popular. and i think it's great to encourage that closer reading i think what we know about how people look at media is also important so many people will have just seen that cover and they will have just gone to that story that feels comfortable that feels like a bill that story for us to play for a wider audience and i think that. that understanding of how people what kinds of information they might avoid and what they prefer to look at helps explain both the
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history and maybe the present of the of the geographic and other media so i want to . go to you with this actually but i want to share this we got from our community this is allen he says i deeply appreciate that the editors of national geographic's april issue on race begins with a clear and painful confession of how their magazine contributed to racism in america and you haven't picked up a copy i strongly encourage you to do so this is a reply that he got from someone this is kelly and kelly says i'm not trying to be rude but my question would be why did they think that highlighting these twins had anything to do with racism or even race because both of them are black actually they're biracial half black jamaican descent and half white but if you come to do want to take that on. i'll take on the first tweet because i think it's really important to encourage self reflection in large media organizations and whatever and also to ask the question why are they doing this and why now at this particular
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moment in history so i think there's two things i'd like to say for anyone who has read the content and i strongly encourage people to read the content rather than just looking at the couple and of course having a visceral reaction to the cover and one thing is we've often through history and this happens a lot with the second world war we tend to defend the present by going back and apologizing it about the past but it's not good enough to say once we acknowledge the past everything's ok you have to look at the way in which the past has shaped the present and the way in which present racist practices of representation are continuously reinforcing and also collecting and reinventing new forms of orientalism a new forms of racism and it's not and i think one of the things that i would say is it's great that they've done this it's just the tip of the iceberg it's just a beginning and people need to take it forward and i mean people not just in western media organizations people in asian media organizations so for instance
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looking at the way in which indian media represents china so the notion of self orientalism the way in which china represents itself to the world in various programs are represented south to it sells and media organizations large news organizations tend to have stereotypes about the south which is somehow building off of those historical stereotypes they haven't gone away they're just morphing into different forms so i want to show you one of the things that would really help is to have or is going to say to build on what you can tell it is said to have a visual literacy. in the in the reading audience is really important particular when you're talking about photography so many of these images have incredible messaging that is again below the level of awareness and to be able to. pick apart the present not again that this very issue or many media outlets use imagery constantly we're awash in images that many people do not know how to read or that
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that kind of racist and orientalist messaging that's in things like angle of view or shadowing or. again whether or not some of represented with these tools of self reflection like a mirror camera mean those are things i think we can we can expect media organizations to help do not just to leave it to academics to talk to each other heard about it or try and educate their students about it but to have the media organization themselves do that. and can i ask a question to both of you because obviously you're in the u.s. and i'm not but i have a i have a theory or a hypothesis about why it's at this particular historical junction with this particular president whom i love it because i was just on that question do you believe my i mean. do you have your own hypotheses about why now and whose interests by doing this kind of very public apology not to say that it's a cynical ploy but to say that i'm sprung
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a place of some desperation in the us sure i mean what i say is that starting with john the genuine person that catherine you know if you follow up one thing to say is that the race issue was in progress before trump was elected president and i think that the historical moment that we're in preceded strum you know look around the american landscape you find all sorts of institutions in the media in the church at universities corporations that are looking at their past. many universities in the united states right now are looking at the role of slavery in the history of their universities many churches are vacant questions about the role that they played in supporting segregation in the united states the new york times has just started publishing a series of obituaries. women that they ignored when they had i mean important significant historical figures whose deaths were nort so this is a moment of reflection in american culture generally but it frankly it actually
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received strong. and i think that it might be more open i mean. you know but i absolutely agree with your point that confession is not you know right. that one repairman's but then one would use to do better in the future so the question is when a university or a magazine has said we helped shape that oppressive racial climate well then what you do about the right what is what is the next. and so the question will be former white university which is one of those universities that has acknowledged the role and slavery and the question will be for national geographic what remedial steps to take to change a social system that you were important in constructing an oppressive social system that you were struck and catherine before you know i don't want to sink into that account before you answer second thought as excellent question if i do say so
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myself i want to bring in this live comment that we got from from you tube i love my it says that do you know confront its racist past how about the world confront it through racists pass that do you know publish magazines for christ's sake and overall any racism was minimal compared to most publications at the time and apologies for using christ's name like just reading out the comment but catherine you publish your book in one thousand nine hundred thirty why has it taken in til this year to get that apology what do you think that has to do with. well i think the national geographic is a product they have they sell it to an audience that they have to please in certain ways and the racism i think you're the person who's just written in is is right i mean it is we have to look at the audience that they're marketing to they helped create the audience but the audience is racism critically when it was an all white readership which it was for many years a mainly white audience readership we have to ask about whether they're doing this
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now making apology now because they want need or have a wider readership than they did and readership that won't tolerate that same kind of treatment of people around the world people of color and are asking for a more accurate and more just kind of representation of themselves and people like them so i think that that question of the market and how how the market is reshaping institutions like the geographic i mean we have to be cynical to to recognize that but we do need to say well that that helped us to see this relationship between the audience and its racism which is. not created entirely by the national geographic unrated by conflicts of interest by histories of colonialism and slavery and those are very big issues to tackle in media itself and i just jump in with one point that we have not raised which i
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feel very strongly about old though i teach a lot of representation and i'm passionate about the politics of representation i think that's absolutely no point having this conversation about the camera and what it produces unless we also have a conversation about who's behind the camera the producers and the owners of media and the narrow wing field in which people are now cross media ownership means that the same platform the same game the same the same magazine might be owned by the same person with the same ideological output. with the same racist views and i think this is a very very dangerous thing and unless we have diversity in production you're never going to be able to change those mindsets and change those kinds of representation thinking you are on the brainwaves are exactly the same level as our community members because as you said that i'm pulling up this week from b. wells who is nicola hannah jones she's a new york times magazine reporter she writes into the stream what the racial make
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up of the staff contributors photographers that answers the question so john i wonder are there checks in place now do you think that there is enough to make sure that this style of coverage that we've been talking about for national geographic no longer exists. look i don't know the internal makeup national geographic i will say that in this particular issue this particular race issue but talk of purpose and writers are extraordinary work and for me the challenge for national geographic is now to assign these writers of these photographers to work on stories that have nothing to do with race you know there is no you know you don't want to compartmentalize these people that they can only work on race they can only work on what used to be called the negro west you want them to be able to work on anything that their talents make them appropriate for and so we've shown that they can
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produce work and they can get it in on time but let's let's roll out in the range of writers and photographers and editors who are responsible for producing. so here's a headline once more of these twins one black and one white will make you think race that is the premise there we've heard it i guess had to say about that bow in but this week from allen who says it is not a perfect nor complete response to the depth of racism in our world but i genuinely think it will move the conversation forward and deeper and an honest and thoughtful way i thanks to john edwin mason catherine lots and to come to a lot but not for this conversation and of course our community continues online but hash tag is a strain thanks for being here. to
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one predictable deja's i've been working on north korea policy for almost thirty years i can't tell you what the u.s. policy is towards north korea vying for to know what they want to deter an attack from the united states as the u.s. struggles to define its foreign policy sunk lines examines the potential fallout we don't see really is a strategy designed to get those talks started because if they expect to surrender fire and fury trumps north korea crisis on al-jazeera.
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