On his Web site, www.allthingspass.com, Keith Harmon Snow is critical of the media big dogs, which he accuses of ignoring the true stories of people in African countries. Snow will be making two multimedia presentations about his travels through these countries at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, and Tuesday, Oct. 31, in the auditorium of the University of Arizona's Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building, 1130 N. Mountain Ave. The first will be about intervention in conflicts in Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan. The second will focus on Afghanistan, where Snow was in March. For more information on these free events, contact Mary Jo Ghory at 622-6419.
You're very critical of the mainstream media. Why is that?
It's not telling the truth.
What do you consider to be mainstream media?
Well, everything from The Nation to The New York Times, (The) Washington Post, (The) Wall Street Journal, (The) New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, Time, US News and World Report. The Nation very much has an agenda, and they don't publish some really important positions and stuff--even though they publish some stuff that's very critical. The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly and Harper's are also very narrow. They look like they've got exposés in them sometimes, but they're not really touching a lot of the stuff I think people should be getting information about.
Where should people be getting information on these issues?
It's really tough. You know, that's a difficult question. Of course, I got in touch with you because of Project Censored ("Censored Stories," Sept. 14). Project Censored is trying to raise the awareness of certain stories that are censored, but they also, you know--it's seen through the lens often of the people who are doing the judging of the Project Censored stories. They're often from the United States, and they see things through the lens of what they get sent to them. So there are a lot of stories that get missed, that don't ever get sent to Project Censored. What should people read? ... I research all over the place, and some of the places I get information include in the field and researching in annual reports of corporations and all kinds of different Web research. Little tidbits here and there can clue you into something that's being said that's not really being said, like you might read a paragraph in a Nation story, which, you say, "Well, what's that really about?" And you explore it further and find out there's a lot more to it.
What do you think the hidden agenda is for a magazine like National Geographic? I mean, you've spoken a lot about the hidden agenda of mainstream media organizations. Can you tell me about what that hidden agenda is?
Let's go after the National Geographic. Everybody who's a writer and photographer wants to work for the National Geographic, and that includes me. At the same time, now that I've begun criticizing it, I don't ever expect to do so--and I think my photography is good enough to be in the National Geographic. I'm not being egotistical; people tell me that all the time. So what's the agenda of the National Geographic? Well, if you look at September 2005, they have a cover story about Africa which says, "Think you know something about Africa? Think again." And it was supposedly showing Africa in a different light that it hadn't ever shown. Well, there was a little bit of truth to that, but they, for example, had a map of all the oil operations in Africa ... And their map doesn't even show one-third of the oil operations going on there, and this involves Mobil, Exxon, Texaco, Total, Elf, Fina--all these huge oil companies. Schlumberger, Halliburton. And National Geographic, if you look at the trustees, they're connected to the mining companies, and they're connected to the oil companies, and they're connected to the defense companies, and they're only showing a piece of the picture.
For example, look at a story that National Geographic does on the Sahara region. It's always nomads and tribal get-up. These people exist--they have beautiful clothing in their culture, and they have different kinds of mutilation or excision or self-scarring. And they show this kind of thing, and they amplify it, but they don't show you that right around the corner, there's this gigantic mining operation for uranium in Niger or copper in Sudan or cobalt in Congo. They show the tribalism, and they play on stereotypes that were established by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the 1930s, when he wrote these long series of Tarzan books. ... You get over there, and you see there's a lot more outside the frame of the photograph that's not being shown, and that's what I really take exception to.