Nowadays, it represents a commonplace assumption among many people that the so-called ‘independent press’ in the West, is by definition concerned with covering international events in the most objective manner. This assumption, however, cannot be considered discursively valid, because the very paradigm of how privately owned ‘free’ Media operate, creates a number of objective preconditions for the covered events to reflect the politically engaged points of view, on the part of the concerned journalists (Borjesson 3). In this paper, I will explore the validity of the above-stated, in regards to how the different aspects of the so-called Ukrainian Revolution of 2014/ ‘Maidan uprising’ have been covered by the newspapers: Irish Times (Ireland), Wall Street Journal, Europe (Belgium), Daily News (Sri-Lanka) and University Wire (USA).
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In his article Ukraine’s Revolution: Triumphant – and Wary (Wall Street Journal, Europe), Matthew Kaminski strives to provide readers with an in-depth insight into what can be considered the actual motivations behind the earlier mentioned Revolution, which culminated on February 22, 2014 (the date when President Yanukovych was deposed). The author indeed needs to be given a credit for the fact that in this article, he succeeded in exposing a number of the thoroughly impartial reasons, which predetermined the development in question. For example, Kaminski mentions that, ever since Ukraine became an independent nation in 1991, the country’s economy continued to deteriorate, which in turn contributed towards the creation of the situation when, as of today, Ukraine can be well discussed in terms of a ‘failed state’.
The author also points out to the fact that Ukraine can be the least referred to as a ‘unified nation’, since a good half of its population consists of Russians, who happened to be much more loyal to Russia than to the country of their formal citizenship. Nevertheless, there are many idiosyncratic overtones to how Kaminski discusses the subject matter. For example, according to the author, one of the reasons why throughout the month of February, the Ukraine’s capital Kiev continued to be affected by the violent confrontations, is that protestors could not find anything better to do but to preoccupy themselves with destroying the cultural legacy of the Soviet Union: “Across Ukraine, statues of Lenin are falling” (13).
The fact that, while destroying the statues of Lenin, the much praised ‘peaceful protestors’ have often been reported flying flags with swastikas (I refer to the live-coverages by CNN and BBC), Kaminski prefers to dismiss as the part of the ‘Kremlin propaganda’: “Vladimir Putin’s television channels call this awakening ‘neo-fascism’ and ‘ultranationalism’ and a threat to Russians here. The Kremlin won’t accept the fluidity and diversity of Ukrainian identity” (13).
Thus, even though that Kaminski’s article does contain many analytical insights into what caused the outbreak of the revolutionary violence in Ukraine, it cannot be referred to as being thoroughly objective. After all, while writing it, the author made a deliberate point in trying to represent the depicted events, as such that should benefit Ukraine in the long run – without giving any consideration to the fact that that there may be other points of view, in this respect. There is even more – the manner in which Kaminski reflected upon the events of February 22, implies the author’s strong affiliation with the specifically American geopolitical agenda, which has always been concerned with the U.S. trying to weaken Russia. Kaminski is quite frank about it: “The Maidan uprising stopped the Kremlin from steering Ukraine away from the European Union” (13). This once again suggests that the discussed article is a rather biased journalistic piece.
Another example of how seemingly an objective article can nevertheless serve the purpose of promoting its author’s subjective points of view, can be well regarded the cover-story Deposed President Reported to be in Russia (Irish Times) by Shaun Walker. In it, the author goes about informing readers that Yanukovych, which was ousted from the office on February 22, 2014, ended up finding a refuge in Russia. Nevertheless, there is so much more to this specific article than merely the author’s intention to keep readers informed, as to what is going in the world. The reason for this is that, while discussing the event in question, which can be considered the Ukrainian Revolution’s climaxing point, Walker promotes the idea that Yanukovych can no longer be considered the legitimate President.
The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated, in regards to the following line from the discussed article: “Mr. Yanukovych said he continues to believe he is the legitimate president of Ukraine… The deposed president called the current session of Ukraine’s parliament – which among other things is electing a new government – ‘illegitimate’” (11). Even a brief glance at this sentence reveals it to be psychologically manipulative, as it contains the rhetorical device of an ‘appeal to ethos’. The sentence’s first part aims to convince readers that Yanukovych is indeed illegitimate, because nobody else but himself believes in his legitimacy. The sentence’s second part strengthens this impression even further, because it implies that the legitimacy of the Ukrainian ‘revolutionary’ government is a well-established fact. The author, however, does not bother to substantiate the validity of the above-quoted suggestion logically.
The reason for this is quite apparent – it could not be done, by definition. After all, according to the Ukrainian Constitution, there may be only three possible circumstances, in light of which the country’s acting President could be relieved of his duties – his death, his mentally incapacitating illness or his impeachment. What it means is that, formally speaking, Yanukovych continues to remain the thoroughly legitimate President of Ukraine. Apparently, while promoting the ‘Maidan uprising’, as such the reflected the Ukrainian citizens’ adherence to the ideals of democracy, Walker exposed himself as an individual who is not aware of what allows people to enjoy democracy, in the first place – namely, their willingness to live according to the provisions of an impersonal/secular law.
Thus, it will not be much of an exaggeration, on our part, to suggest that even though this article was published in the Irish newspaper, there are strongly defined hypocritical overtones to it, which in turn implies that the author happened to be affiliated with the cause of ‘Pax Americana’. The rationale behind this suggestion is that, as it was illustrated earlier, Walker tends to treat the notion of democracy as the practical tool of geopolitics, rather than an abstract ideal.
In this respect, the article Revolution in Ukraine: Take Two (University Wire) by James Bradbury is much different, as it strives to provide readers with an analytical (non-biased) insight into the actual causes of the ‘Maidan uprising’. For example, in this particular article the author goes to show that what is happening in Ukraine right now, cannot really be described within the context of ‘good vs. evil’ – the apparent split between citizens in the country’s Western and Eastern regions has been predetermined historically. As Bradbury pointed out: “A country (Ukraine) that had always been divided between an industrial Eastern half with historical and linguistic ties to Russia and a largely agricultural Western half that leaned more towards Europe, now saw that division etched permanently” (5).
It is needless to mention, of course, that the above-quoted suggestion implies that, contrary to how many Western journalists view it, the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 is more geopolitically than politically motivated. This, of course, gives the author a credit on the account of his willingness to explore different aspects of the issue at stake.
What also contributes to the article’s discursive value, is that in this article, the author was able to expose the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014, as such that has been triggered by the former government’s reluctance to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. As he noted: “When Yanukovych announced the suspension of the Association Agreement talks in November, it was at first established opposition parties that called for protests in Kiev” (5). This, of course, naturally prompts readers to think of the followed ‘people’s uprising’ in terms of a ‘punishment’, imposed upon Yanukovych for his unwillingness to act in the manner, prescribed to him by the EU and America. Consequently, readers begin to suspect that, while lending their support to the ‘peaceful Ukrainian protesters’ (armed with automatic weapons), the European and American top-officials were the least concerned with trying to observe the international law’s most fundamental principles.
Walker leaves only a few doubts as to the fact that, contrary to how many people in the West tend to think of it, the most recent Ukrainian Revolution will not establish the precondition for the living standards in Ukraine to begin improving. Quite on the contrary – the article implies that, due to the recently occurred ‘people’s uprising’, it is only the matter of time, before the Ukrainian economy will find itself on the threshold of a complete collapse: “What will happen to Ukraine’s economy? The West will not provide as substantial of a financial assistance package as Russia offered in December” (5).
Thus, the article Revolution in Ukraine: Take Two can be considered generally critical of what is going on in Ukraine. Initially, this state of affairs with the discussed article may appear somewhat illogical, because it was published in the US-based newspaper. Yet, as we are well aware of, the America’s governmental officials wholeheartedly supported the ‘Maidan uprising’ from its very beginning. Nevertheless, the mentioned inconsistency can be well explained, once we take into consideration the fact that the newspaper University Wire, which contains the concerned article, is expected to appeal to the intellectually advanced readers, capable of understanding what accounts for the relationship between causes and effects. Given what has been said earlier, we can well conclude that in the realm of journalism, the notion of ‘objectivity’ is synonymous to the notion of ‘analyticalness’.
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The article Defeat Neocon Conspiracy in Ukraine! (Daily News) by the anonymous author, can well regarded as another example of a strongly biased journalistic piece. However, in the case with this particular article, the biasness of the contained themes and motifs is strongly anti-Western. The reason for this is that the article’s author refers to the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 in terms of an anti-constitutional coup, financed and supported by the American neo-conservatives (neocons). According to him/her, the events of February 22 (2014) in Kiev were nothing but yet another instance of how the U.S. goes about violating the international law under the excuse of helping the cause of democracy: “The disposal of the Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych last week by neocon operatives from within the US state department… breached Articles 2(4) and 2(7) of the UN Charter” (1).
As such, this article promotes the idea that the ‘Maidan uprising’ was only formally concerned with the citizens’ willingness to get rid of the corrupted government of Yanukovych. It simply reflected the American imperialism’s true agenda – to spread chaos throughout the world, as the mean of maintaining the commercial appeal of the U.S. treasury bonds. The article also exposes the actual mechanism of how the U.S. is able to meddle in the domestic affairs of foreign countries – this is being done by the mean of building the network of the so-called ‘Non-Governmental Organizations’ (NGOs) across the world, which in turn provide the official ‘roof’ for the CIA operatives: “The neocon maneuverings leading up to the coup… showed that the so-called ‘protests’ were conceived, financed and orchestrated by the US… with the connivance of a number of so-called NGOs operated by the US state department and the CIA” (1).
In order to substantiate the validity of this suggestion, the anonymous author refers to some secret documents (which supposedly confirm the America’s involvement), obtained by the Russian intelligence. However, he/she does not specify what accounts for these documents’ actual content.
Nevertheless, even though that, as it was shown above, the discussed article can indeed be considered strongly anti-American, it does mention a number of the de facto proofs of the contained claims’ legitimacy. For example, the article refers to the recently leaked conversation between the U.S. State Secretary Victoria Nuland and the American ambassador in Ukraine, in which both individuals refer to the Ukrainian ‘democracy-supporting’ politicians as being nothing short of lowly puppets, who are expected to act as they are told. Another reference has been provided to one of Nuland’s recent speeches, in which she bragged about the Ukrainian Revolution’s actual cost: “In a speech to the National Press Club on December 13, 2013… Nuland boasted that the US has ‘invested’ $5 billion in ‘organizing a network’ to give Ukraine ‘the future it deserves’”. (1).
Thus, there is a certain paradox – even though the article Defeat Neocon Conspiracy in Ukraine! is indeed strongly opinionated, there can be only a few good reasons to think of it, as such that does not deserve to be read. Apparently, it is also possible to for a newspaper-article to be simultaneously biased and yet highly informative.
I believe that the provided earlier line of argumentation, as to how the mentioned articles ‘generate history’, is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis. In light of what has been said in the paper’s analytical part, there appears to be indeed very little reason to think that the journalism’s actual aim is concerned with seeking the objective truth about what is going on in the word. Rather, it is concerned with ‘creating’ such a truth.
“Defeat Neocon Conspiracy in Ukraine!” Daily News. 2014: 1. Print.
Borjesson, Kristina. Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2004. Print.
Bradbury, James. “Revolution in Ukraine: Take Two.” University Wire. 2014: 5. Print.
Kaminski, Matthew. “Ukraine’s Revolution: Triumphant – and Wary.” Wall Street Journal, Europe. 2014: 13. Print.
Walker, Shaun. “Deposed President Reported to be in Russia.” Irish Times. 2014: 11. Print.