Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Asian Correspondent - Journalism or Infomercial?

One may wonder about the one-sided pro-West editorial tones and outright propaganda peddled on the online "news" site,  Asian Correspondent. It is clear in Thailand, its "blogger collective" backs the regime and despises the protesters, in lockstep with the West's traditional corporate media (ReutersBBCNYT). Who are these "bloggers" and what is this platform called "Asian Correspondent?"

It is a business - and it is a business funded by Western corporations, as well as clearly driven by their interests. This is in fact openly admitted by Asian Correspondent founder, James Craven. A Guardian article titled, "Asian Correspondent.com to build far-east foreign reporting collective," stated:
"It's just three days old, but Craven is ambitious and claims to have clocked up 30,000 unique users since Monday. He says an AfricanCorrespondent.com or MiddleEastCorrespondent.com could be launched if the debut site proves successful. Such expansion could suggest a network of syndicated foreign correspondence that could fill newspapers' editorial gaps – a Breakingviews-type wire for overseas opinion. But Craven says creating destination sites, platforms for advertising, takes precedence over syndication. 
"We are going to Fortune 1,000 companies and a couple of the leading ad agencies. and approaching them on rich media display," he says. "There's a huge number of US organisations that are trying to target different pockets of Asia but are finding it difficult.""
Indeed. The Fortune 1000 seeking to target different pockets of Asia. Coincidentally it is also the Fortune 1000 in the form of the US-ASEAN Business Council that worked with Thaksin Shinawatra in 2004 to try and pass an illegal US-Thai FTA, and who hosted Thaksin's UDD "red shirt" leaders in Washington DC just ahead of the 2011 Thai general elections. It is clear to see who they'd like to target, and what agendas they'd like to aim at those targets.




We don't have a paper trail yet regarding the finances of Asian Correspondent - it is not disclosed on their "about us" page. We know that the bloggers are paid and that the site itself is backed by investors, we just don't know who exactly. For a website posing as a journalistic enterprise, and one that expects to be taken seriously - it certainly exhibits a lack of the necessary transparency needed to do either.

At best, its need to draw in advertisements bends editorials and reports toward a narrative more likely to mesh with the agendas of these "Fortune 1000 companies." Narratives such as those that support free trade, GMOs, Wall Street-backed proxies like Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand, Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, and Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia.

Asian Correspondent admits it is funded by "someone" seeking to target Asia, but will not say who - most likely because it would undermine their credibility, or else why this degree of opacity? What poses as journalism is in fact a slick marketing machine. Think about this twice before spending time at Asian Correspondent - it is a glorified informercial designed to attract investors and transmit their message. If you are looking for the truth, look elsewhere.