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Concision’ by local media, including Vanguard

Friday’s Vanguard featuring stories on recent war protests was interesting, but may have left out several important points. As a grad student who wrote the “no first-strike war in Iraq” resolution which passed ASPSU student senate on Martin Luther King’s actual birthday (1-15-03) by a vote of 9 to 5, with 4 abstentions, which was submitted to the senate by PSU Progressive Student Union, I believe it is particularly important to address what corporate-media critic Noam Chomsky has called ‘concision,’ that is, ways that media coverage minimizes and obscures fundamental issues, while appearing to somehow “cover” an issue from a “trendy” or “nice graphics” (USA Today model) motif.

In terms of economics, I didn’t see the word, “oil” in your protest issue, yet this was the primary reason for the last two wars against Iraq by the U.S. There may be 1,000 points of Portland pro-war political propaganda, that is, “saturation” coverage of some aspects of the war, but for local city and PSU campus media, there does seem to be an omission in terms of context. For example, there is a boycott of Exxon to protest the Bush Administration’s pro-war stance in the world.

As the founding publisher and editor of the PSU Rearguard when I attended PSU during the first Gulf War, I am glad to see groups like Students for Unity join Progressive Student Union and other activist groups in urging PSU’s $150,000-a-year president Dan Bernstine, to kick ROTC off-campus. Students from PSU Progressive Student Union, for example, met twice with the Oregonian’s editorial board to protest that body’s support for the war and for Bush, yet when Medea Benjamin, founding director of San Francisco’s Global Exchange, went with us last fall to talk to the Oregonian editors, much less when Medea talked to 400 people in the Smith ballroom the night before, there was no coverage by any of our PSU campus media that Medea was even at PSU, in terms of news coverage. She had just gotten back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and was the Green Party’s California U.S. Senate candidate in the last election.

Concision, to be sure.

Where has PSU print campus media been this year, anyway? The Republican-splattered Spectator, of course, is for war and for capitalism, unapologetically, with $20,000 of our student fee money to publicize their views. But the Rearguard seems to have been largely Missing In Action during the course of this year, with infrequent issues.

As for the so-called Vanguard, Progressive Student Union asked Vanguard Editor Erin Lloyd to endorse the big Portland peace rallies back in September 2002, but Ms. Lloyd explained that the Vanguard doesn’t endorse things, per se. This evidently changed when the Vanguard endorsed Tracy Earll, who sought reelection as SFC chair, so far unsuccessfully, after the SFC de-funded OSPIRG this year. The Vanguard still seems to be supporting Earll’s reelection, after the election, challenging the write-in victory of a woman student of color in that election.

City media, of course, is all about yellow ribbons and flag waving genuflections.

The Oregonian even claimed, falsely, in a story that no public college student governments had opposed the Iraq War. Since I wrote the peace resolution, which passed ASPSU in January, I know that to be patently false. We sent the Oregonian a correction, but they refused to print it.

Lew Church

member, PSU Progressive Student Union