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Shelton A. Gunaratne, Moorhead, Published November 09 2013

Letter: Insular US media fail once again

The insular American press has ignored the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka on Nov. 15-17. It comprises 53 independent countries (with a total population of 2.25 billion occupying almost one-third of the world’s land area) that were once British colonies.

I point out that this omission reflects a serious flaw in the news judgment of the American media establishment and the hired journalists who filter the news that’s “fit to print.”

The origin of CHOGM was in The First Colonial Conference of 1887. The subsequent periodic meetings were identified as Imperial Conferences from 1907 onward. With the de jure end of colonialism, the countries realized the need to adopt new terminology that reflected the changed international political structure. Thus, the 17 top-level meetings held from 1944 to 1969 were called British Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conferences.

This nomenclature was inadequate to describe the new phase of the commonwealth in which Britain relinquished its leadership role to be a coequal with other member nations, which assumed diverse political structures headed by presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and military chiefs. The term CHOGM (wherein HOG stands for head of government) solved the problem.

Although the biennial CHOGM has gathered 22 times since 1971, hardly a small fraction of Americans knows anything about it because the elite press of the country (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today), as well as the nonelite press (e.g., The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead; the Grand Forks Herald) has failed to report on any of the CHOGM meetings.

The reasons for adducing my thesis: