Sunday, June 07, 2009

Whatever Happened to Nigeria?

Hi folks, Gopol here. If you're wondering, Gopol is short for "Gope on line," where "gope" is a nickname I've had, and has nothing to do with the Grand Old Party, aside from the coincident acronymic syncretism, perchance.

Mytwords has inspired me to join in the collective call out of NPR on multiple issues. Since many hands make light (sic) work I would suggest we share our methods and ask others to improve on these. Mytwords has suggested using the npr search engine to research stories (or the lack thereof) on npr. After my previous post on NPR coverage of Nigeria, it occured to me I hadn't heard much about Nigeria on NPR in a long while. So I searched for "saro-wiwa" and came up with an Inskeep report from 4+ years ago that is part of a series that, if this particular report is typical, is quite an indictment of the oil companies, but only if you listen hard and put the pieces together.

Inskeep's report presents the consequences of oil exploitation by multinational petroleum corporations as sort of acts of nature. It's not at all accusatory, though the implications are. The article couches facts of the matter in passive terms like "bad things are happening because of this flaring phenomenon" as if it's something beyond the control of man. This is followed, almost like a non sequitor, by"Shell says that burning gas doesn't create pollution" then to "somehow there is pollution anyway."

All this requires focused attention on the part of the listener to put the disjoint facts together on the order of "19+41+37=97." Since the preface of the whole series includes this gem:

Nigeria [] a country of increasing importance to America's oil-driven economy

listeners may tend to skip doing the sum.

There were a bunch more reports on West Africa in this series. They deserve further analysis by the many people who are paid to do this sort of thing. What was it Jello Biafra said about not bellyaching about the media and instead becoming the media? How's that working out?


Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Criticizing Shell would fall under the heading, in the NPR manual: "Underwriters, prostate-massaging of."

There you would find the very explicit prohibition against any NPR story or headline that MIGHT even remotely make a potential NPR underwriter even the tiniest bit uncomfortable about their corporate acts...

geoff said...

Yes, the underwriter.
The underwriter/propagandist clearly holds sway over public radio.

The three most insidious underwriters appear to be, in no particular order, Bank of America, Chevron and Monsanto. That covers a lot of waterfront. I think they must still have a warehouse full of free samples from Merck, and this explains their irrepressible cheeriness and smug contempt for their listeners.