16 December, 2005

Blogs vs. MSM Round 235; also EU vs The Rest of the World, Round 358

In terms of where I get my news I tend to rely heavily on blogs, not just for the POV on news events--what people are saying--but also for 1) news that is simply not being reported and 2) news that is being reported wrong and/or distorted. A clear example for me occured today when I was perusing Google News, which is where I read news from the stateside and international MSM because I cannot bring myself to trust the 24-hour news networks or the paper news medium. There was a story featured in the main section detailing Europe's pronounciations against the current round of trade talks, with headlines like "EU: Direction of WTO Talks 'Worrying'", in which

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson said Friday that the direction of World Trade Organization talks appeared to be "going backwards" and questioned whether progress in moving toward a global trade accord could be achieved during the Hong Kong meeting.

"The emerging direction of the meeting is worrying," he said. "It is hard to see where progress can be achieved in Hong Kong if the talks continue in this direction.

"The level of ambition, if anything, is going backwards," Mandelson said during a break from meetings with other WTO ministers.
If one simply stuck to the MSM one would suppose that talks were in a crisis and that this round was going to collaspe as famously as the last one did in Cancun.

Contrast this with what Francisco is saying over at Caracas Chronicles. Francisco, who I mentioned in a previous post is covering the talks in Hong Kong, describes a situation remarkabley different from the impending doom and backwardness claimed by the EU trade ministers.
Amorim [the Brazilian foreign minister] is acting as the de facto leader of the Brazil-India alliance, which is at the heart of the G20 group of developing nations, which has roped in the G33 and G90 groups of developing nations and includes 110 countries and 80% of the world population. India and Brazil have been deliberate about working out common negotiating positions with the other developing country groups, and they seem to have overcome the poorest countries' initial reticence in this regard.

The outcome of all this coordinating is that for the first time the developing countries really are negotiating as a block...and Amorim is at the center of it all. More and more, he speaks not for Brazil but for the whole of the developing world here. And, having gotten control the agenda, Amorim is driving one hard bargain. He's not giving an inch to the EU, and he has outflanked the EU so comprehensibly in the PR war surrounding the negotiations that when the meeting fails, it'll be the Europeans who take the fall.
Ah ha! So the doom and gloom coming from the EU corner is not a indication of how things are going for the entire round of talks but merely European anxiety over losing out on their precious agri subsidies and havng to open their markets to the rest of the world, including those uppity brown peoples (see this hilarious article "Pressed on Farm trade, EU says WTO Talks in Crisis"...which I believe sums up the whole issue).

Okay, so I covered two issues here and to sum up just in case anyone is confused: 1) the first issue is differences in news reporting between blogs and MSM and how the former can be used to vet or discredit the latter; and 2) EU worries over having to compromise with developing countries on farm trade causing verbal diarrhea in EU trade ministers. If anyone thinks Im unfairly or wrongly conflating two issues or simply that my narrative here is truncated please feel free to fisk in the comments section.


vergueishon said...

It should be stressed that Quico (Francisco) is covering the talks from Hong Kong. In fact, he speficically stated on his blog that he would be there first and foremost as a student of Economics, exchanging opinions with many leaders of the global economy. It just goes to say that he's probably talked to quite a good number of people...

Eve said...

I think I covered that in way earlier post on WTO in HK.