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Mediathink

by James Winter

Readers concerned about the lack of analysis and independent investigative journalism in the mass media will welcome the third of James Winter’s critiques of the fifth estate. Winter is one angry academic, and his polemical writing is an effective antidote to anyone recovering from the wall-to-wall CNN coverage of recent events. His thesis, that the corporate-controlled media create and sustain an ideology by covering the news within limited parameters that reflect the views of the world’s powerful, is referred to as mediathink.

In a series of case studies, including timely coverage of the post-Sept. 11 security hysteria, Winter takes us through examples of how Canadian media outlets often filter out truly alternative viewpoints and, with varying degrees of subtlety, present the views of governments and corporations in an obedient version of mediathink.

Mediathink also covers a concept most male commentators tend to avoid: the media-led attacks on feminists. In two separate chapters covering recent controversies, Winter demonstrates how feminism and women’s rights have become synonymous with parasites sucking dry our national lifeblood.

Winter sometimes strays into a brand of rhetorical polemic that almost mirrors the writers and reporters he is critiquing. His arguments are certainly strong enough without the bombast, whether he’s showing how atrocities in East Timor are glossed over or how NATO bombings of civilians in the Balkans are defended as legitimate targets by an unquestioning, almost reassuring, media. Winter also occasionally expects too much prior knowledge from his readership, briefly mentioning events and terms that will draw blank stares from the uninformed. Had Winter toned down the name-calling and contextualized some of his material, this worthwhile book would have been even more accessible to those who need to read it.