CNN plans worldwide expansion (& all Starbucked out)

November 19, 2007

* China’s ticking demographic time bomb
* “The Iraq conflict has become the deadliest by far for the media trying to cover it”
* Starbucks, the Onion once reported, “continued its rapid expansion Tuesday, opening its newest location in the men’s room of an existing Starbucks”

NOTE: Some subscribers to my email list, particularly those with hotmail accounts, did not receive my dispatch on the Yazidis yesterday. It can also now be viewed via Andrew Sullivan’s website here.




1. CNN plans worldwide expansion
2. Latest writer for The Economist: Angelina Jolie
3. China defends its plan to create databases on foreign journalists
4. The most dangerous war in the history of journalism?


5. All Starbucked out
6. China now has 18 million more young men than women
7. British hairdresser sued over Muslim headscarf ban
8. Weather Channel boss calls global warming “the greatest scam in history”


9. Some TV stations return in Pakistan as Negroponte visits
10. Pakistan expels British journalists
11. News media feels force of Musharraf crackdown

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the recent items I have written for the National Review’s Media Blog. For space reasons, I have split the dispatch into two.

These are the items relating to media and society in general. By separate dispatch, I am sending items connected to the Middle East, and to U.S. and U.K. politics.



Sunday, November 18, 2007


While the BBC is soon to reduce its substantial staff of foreign correspondents, CNN International has just announced plans to increase its number of foreign reporters by 10 percent.

CNN International, which is owned by Time Warner, said it would invest almost $10 million to add 15 or 16 correspondents to its staff of 150.

The centerpiece of the investment, says CNN, will be the expansion of its bureau in the United Arab Emirates. CNN will also hire staff or stringers in Afghanistan, Belgium, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, and Vietnam.

The move comes as part of a multimillion-dollar investment to increase its ability to produce its own international reports, and not to rely so much on reproducing reports from other organizations such as Britain’s ITN and Channel 4 news.

The announcement comes two months after CNN said it would not renew its contract to receive news from Reuters.

Even after its forthcoming cuts, the BBC, with its distinct anti-American and anti-Israel tilt, will remain the world’s largest broadcaster.


Monday, November 19, 2007


Has the high-minded economic and political weekly started to follow the rest of the British media downmarket?

Hollywood starlet Angelina Jolie (otherwise known as Brad Pitt’s other half) is the newest contributor to The Economist’s “The World in 2008,” which is published this week and contains predictions for the next year.

Jolie’s piece on the atrocities in Darfur runs alongside contributions from several presidents, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other senior politicians.

Jolie’s byline describes her as a goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The annual spin-off to The Economist is now in its 22nd year. It is sold internationally and remains on newsstands for the whole year.

Despite The Economist’s “know-it-all style” of reporting and prediction, if one looks back at past issues one can see that the magazine has often been wrong on critical international issues.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Chinese officials have defended their intention to collect information on journalists visiting the country to cover next year’s Beijing Olympics. The authorities claimed such databases would be used to help the media at Beijing 2008, not to create blacklists or hinder reporting.

The comments came after the state-run China Daily said last week that authorities were building a database on about 30,000 foreign journalists accredited to cover next year’s Olympics.

China, whose own media is strictly controlled, had previously promised greater freedoms for foreign journalists to report on the Games, and as of January 1 eased rules governing their ability to report outside major cities.

Earlier this month, Yahoo was severely criticized in the U.S. Congress for giving Chinese authorities the email addresses of Chinese journalists and bloggers who were then sentenced to 10 years in prison for mentioning the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen square massacre. See this report from AlJazeeraEnglish (which incidentally is much fairer than AlJazeeraArabic, and less anti-western than organizations like BBC and CNN).


Monday, November 19, 2007


So claims The Independent, the leftwing British daily, in a lengthy report today:

“The Iraq conflict has become the deadliest by far for the media trying to cover it, with more than 200 journalists killed to date. To put this in perspective, two were killed in the First World War, 68 in the Second, 77 in Vietnam and 36 in the Balkans. And the toll in Iraq shows no sign of declining. It is, if anything, rising. Five journalists were killed in separate attacks in just one day last month.”

Is this perhaps a belated recognition that the Islamic terror groups and militias deliberately targeting journalists are not as open to reason as some in the leftist western media would have us believe?

The Independent, who many have accused of hitherto being somewhat soft on terrorism, continues:

“Some famous journalists have lost their lives reporting conflicts – Robert Capa in the first Indochina war; Ernie Pyle on the island of Okinawa in the Second World War; Larry Burrows in Vietnam. But what makes Iraq more dangerous than the others is that the deaths are not accidental collateral damage from stray shells or from reporters being caught up in the fighting. Instead, many have been specifically targeted because of what they had reported or because they came from the wrong side of the sectarian divide. They are killed in drive-by shootings or abducted and executed, often after being tortured. There are little or no investigations into the attacks, creating impunity for the killers from the Shia or Sunni militant groups or government run death squads.”



Thursday, November 8, 2007


From the consistently interesting and lively book pages of The Wall Street Journal:

Starbucks, the Onion once reported, “continued its rapid expansion Tuesday, opening its newest location in the men’s room of an existing Starbucks.”

In real life, it hasn’t come to that – yet. But Starbucks has seemingly caffeinated the U.S. and the world. There are now 10,000 stores spread across North America (more than 170 in Manhattan alone) and an additional 4,000 in more than 40 countries, stretching from Bahrain to Brazil.

Starbucks stores have become a retail icon, a daily habit and a late-night punchline. “The only way the oil companies could make more money,” Jay Leno quipped a couple of years ago, “would be if they were drilling for oil and struck Starbucks coffee.”

Read the rest in your coffee break.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Traditionally, of course, such demographic imbalance leads to war…

China now has 18 million more young men than women
Agence France Presse, Beijing bureau

Men of marriageable age now outnumber women by 18 million in China and the sex ratio is set to become more skewed because rural families prefer boys, state press reported.

Sex-selective abortions, a direct result of the nation’s one-child policy, have boosted the number of boys born in China in recent years.

By 2020 there will be 30 million more men than women aged between 20 and 45 in China, news agency Xinhua said, quoting the head of the country’s National Population and Family Planning Commission.

China’s birth ratio averaged 119.58 boys to every 100 girls, while in rural areas the ratio was 122.85 males to 100 females, Zhang Wiqing said at a symposium on rural population.

* Tom Gross adds: The “bachelor bomb” has long been attributed to laws that for nearly 25 years have limited urban families to one child and rural families to two, providing that the first is a girl. Beijing this year began drafting special regulations that would specify punishments for parents and doctors who abort fetuses after discovering they are female. But it is believed they will be too late to stop the demographic timebomb.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


The (London) Daily Telegraph reports:

A hair salon owner is being sued for religious discrimination after refusing a Muslim teenager a job as a stylist because she wore a headscarf.

Sarah Desrosiers said she refused 19-year-old Bushra Noah the position because it was an “absolutely basic” requirement that customers could see their stylist’s hair.

The 32-year-old, whose “alternative” salon in London specialises in “urban, funky punky” cuts, has already spent £1,000 fighting the case. Miss Noah wants £15,000 ($31,000) for injury to her feelings plus an unspecified amount for lost earnings.

Miss Desrosiers, who denies any discrimination, said: “The essence of my line of work is the display of hair.

“To me, it’s absolutely basic that people should be able to see the stylist’s hair.” … She added: “I now feel like I have been branded a racist.

“My accountant is Muslim. I have never discriminated against Muslims. My name is being dragged through the mud and I feel victimised.

“This girl is suing me for more than I earn in a year. I am a small business and have only had my salon a year and a half.”


Friday, November 9, 2007


Something for the Nobel Prize Committee and the Oscar judges to ponder?

Many news media have been accused of using “man-made global warming” articles and comment pieces to promote anti-Bush, anti-American, anti-capitalism or anti-globalization views.

So it comes as little surprise that only those media which haven’t followed this politically correct line are reporting these remarks by the head of The Weather Channel.

Among them is the (London) Daily Telegraph:

The founder of The Weather Channel in the U.S. has described the concept of global warming as “the greatest scam in history” and accused global media of colluding with “environmental extremists” to alarm the public.

“It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM,” John Coleman wrote in an article published on ICECAP, the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, which is known for challenging widely published theories on global warming.

Coleman continued:

“Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmental conscientious citizens.

“Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minutes documentary segment.”

He added: “I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct.

“There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril.”


The Daily Telegraph’s sister paper, The Sunday Telegraph, last Sunday also ran a lengthy piece titled “The deceit behind global warming”.



Saturday, November 17, 2007


The Pakistani authorities have allowed at least two private television channels to resume broadcasting, despite the state of emergency that remains in place.

As I reported earlier in the week (items below), virtually all private electronic media was shut down when President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule.

The small change in policy came after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Islamabad yesterday.

However, Pakistan’s largest private television network, Geo, is still having its transmissions from the United Arab Emirates blocked, after it refused to pledge that it would no longer criticize Musharraf. It has been broadcasting via satellite from the UAE since emergency rule was imposed earlier this month.

Negroponte meets with Musharraf today. He is expected to call for the release of thousands of lawyers and political prisoners and an end to emergency rule as a pre-requisite for a fair election.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Following up my item on Saturday (below) about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s domestic press crackdown, the Pakistani government has now expelled three journalists from Britain’s Telegraph group.

The Daily Telegraph’s Isambard Wilkinson and Damien McElroy, and The Sunday Telegraph’s Colin Freeman were given 72 hours to leave the country, after The Daily Telegraph published an editorial criticizing President Musharraf.

A spokeswoman for the Telegraph Group confirmed the journalists had left safely but declined to comment further.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


The Guardian reports from Islamabad:

Last Tuesday the owner of Geo, Pakistan’s largest television station, sent an email to his senior editors. “I have received [a] threatening telephone call last night from ISI,” wrote Mir Shakil ur Rahman, referring to the powerful Inter Services Intelligence agency. “They have taken me to a house in Islamabad.”

Mr Rahman did not describe what happened at the spy safe house, but the following sentence suggested it was not pleasant. “I would like to advise you to please follow the laws specially [sic] the newly promulgated law.”

He also attached an email from “Sabir”. “Pakistan Army is the backbone of Pakistan, don’t try to damage it, if u do, u and your family who have looted billions would be hunted down like rats,” it read. “It will just take a few hundred people to smash ur studios, offices, vans.”

As General Musharraf’s emergency rule slides towards a second week, Pakistan’s media barons are coming under intense pressure from his heavy-handed security forces – officially and unofficially.

Private TV channels have been pulled off air, stringent new laws prohibit stories that “ridicule” the president, and many journalists are wondering if the country’s television revolution is over.

… Journalists and proprietors complain of threatening calls and emails, some by people claiming to be the Taliban. They are continuing to broadcast, sending stories by satellite and high-speed internet to a minority of wealthy viewers.

… “The government’s goal is to consolidate their position in the courts and not to allow protests grow,” said veteran journalist Zaffar Abbas. “At the moment they seem pretty satisfied.”

Film, cartoon and sports channels are allowed, as is Pakistan Television, the state news station, which presents an alternate reality. The channel airs Musharraf speeches, anti-Indian propaganda and chat shows hosted by regime loyalists.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.