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Termination of Sumner Burstyn's NZ Herald Column

Termination of Barbara Sumner Burstyn's NZ Herald column

By Christiaan Briggs

Well well, it's kick-off as they say. An effort to shut good progressive writers completely out of New Zealand's mainstream newspapers looks like it might be under way.

Burstyn, for those who don't know her, wrote a column for the NZ Herald.. up until two days ago. The reason given for termination? Her work “suffered from a disconnect to issues of the day,” according to the editors.

Anyone who knows of Burstyn's writing and understands Noam Chomsky's analysis of market economics and the corporate media knows exactly what this coded sentence means. For those who don't the beginning of an email I happened to have sent Barbara on the 8th of March, 2004 might enlighten:

"Barbara you are kicking some serious ass lately. What's up with that, you are gonna lose your job if you're not careful ;) Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for sticking it to 'em. Good journalism is always a pleasure—such a rarity in this climate."

So who was Barbara "sticking it to"? The ones with the purse strings, the purse strings to seemingly everything in this world.

To believe that the media today is "objective" is to participate in a collective insanity. I know of two reasons that such a situation does not and cannot exist.

One is the fact that those telling the stories always have a limited space to tell them. If you cannot tell the "whole story" then you obviously need to leave bits of the story in and take bits of it out. A story-teller does this by exercising their personal judgment, and personal judgment is formed around your world-view. So it is not that something is farcically deemed "objective" that news-readers need to hear, but what the world-view is of the person telling the story.

The other reason, which is more active biases than "lack of objectivity," is the fact that those who own the media, in this global capitalist economy, want to make a profit out of it. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that profits and actuality are not always mutually inclusive. An understatement to be sure. A related, but more lucid example of profiteering (of which all profit-making is), is the outcome of "health industry" decisions made within a market economy. People make profits off people being and staying sick, another understatement.

In case you happen across this writing and you're now thinking to yourself well fine, but capitalism is the "natural" thing man, what on earth do you suggest in its place, etc., etc? Well I suggest you pick up a copy of Michael Albert's, Life After Capitalism and look into one promising alternative for yourself.

Not interested in talk of alternative economies? Well I'm not surprised. Although it's in everybody's interests, including yours and the very planet itself, those who ultimately decide what you are generally told, due to their power to decide who generally tells you, do not see it in their interests for people to discuss alternatives, or for that matter to challenge the very world order that keeps this system in place. Burstyn, through her writing, was challenging this world-order. Was this a case of shutting her up? Make up your own mind.

To comment on this article, Click here…

For those who want to tell the NZ Herald what they think:

For more on Burstyn:

And for an article by Sunil K. Sharma, of Dissident Voice, on the termination of Burstyn's column read on:

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