alisonbanville at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Nov 25 21:27:01 GMT 2010
'It is already cliché to say that "the problem of media" is now central among
the challenges to democracy, freedom and justice. The bigger question and
is: what can we do about it?.......Commercial media’s relationship with social
movements, civil resistance, and
other popular struggles is either one of neglect or outright hostility. People
organizing for their human and economic rights, for justice, for freedom, for
more democracy, are generally ignored or treated with great condescension by
institutional media organizations. Much of this happens because the interests
that movements and peoples struggle against – corporations and governments – are
the power-holders that commercial and state-owned media have chosen to favor and
indulge well before movements erupt to challenge them'
The piece urges a return to 'old school reporting and journalism; the kind that
up from the streets and back roads where real people live and work and,
regularly throughout history, helped citizens to reassert ourselves as captains
of our own destinies. History has always been written by such struggles, and the
present time is no different. The life’s blood that gave birth to all freedoms
and to all democracies
throughout history has been people’s movements and struggles.
The road to a more authentic journalism is found by walking alongside, learning
from, and reporting on those movements.'
>From the fantastic article 'Authentic Journalism: Weapon of the People' a
It's no surprise that the corporate media reports in this way - you ask where
are our fearless reporters? It's a little more complicated than that. As the
brilliant war reporter Chris Hedges (formerly of the New Yotk Times until he was
sacked for speaking out about the Iraq War) wrote on Truthdig in another
Journalists, while they like to promote the image of themselves as fierce
individualists, are in the end another species of corporate employees. They
claim as their clients an amorphous public. They seek their moral justification
in the service of this nameless, faceless mass and speak little about the vast
influence of the power elite to shape and determine reporting. Does a public
even exist in a society as fragmented and divided as ours? Or is the public, as
Walter Lippmann wrote, now so deeply uninformed and divorced from the inner
workings of power and diplomacy as to make it a clean slate on which our armies
of skilled propagandists can, often through the press, leave a message? ....The
press, which has always written and spoken from presuppositions and principles
that reflect the elite consensus, now peddles a consensus that is flagrantly
With political coverage especially there is the added problem of access to
'official sources' preventing any hope of unbiased reports:
'The closer reporters get to official sources.... the more constraints they
endure. When reporting depends heavily on access it becomes very difficult to
challenge those who grant or deny that access. This craven desire for access has
turned huge sections of the Washington press, along with most business
reporters, into courtiers. The need to be included in press briefings and
background interviews with government or business officials, as well as the
desire for leaks and early access to official documents, obliterates
journalistic autonomy. '
Media Lens explains in their FAQ: http://www.medialens.org/faq/#objective
Are you saying that the mainstream media is some kind of a giant conspiracy to
keep the public ignorant?
No. In seeking to understand the basis and operation of systematic mass media
distortion, we flatly reject all conspiracy theories. Instead, we point to the
inevitably corrupting effects of ‘market forces’ operating on, and through,
media corporations seeking profit in a society dominated by corporate power. We
reject the idea that mainstream journalists are generally guilty of
self-censorship and conscious lying; we believe that the all-too-human tendency
to self-deception accounts for their conviction that they are honest purveyors
of uncompromised truth. We all have a tendency to believe what best suits our
purpose; highly paid, highly privileged editors and journalists are no
exception. In any case, professionals whose attitudes and opinions most closely
serve the needs of corporate power, whether in media institutions or elsewhere,
are more likely to be filtered through to positions of authority within such
Media Lens has grown out of our perception of the unwillingness, indeed
inability, of the mainstream media to tell the truth about the real causes and
extent of many of the problems facing humanity, such as poverty, human rights
abuses, war, pollution and climate change. Because much modern suffering is
rooted in the unlimited greed of corporate profit-maximising - in the
subordination of people and planet to profit - it seems to us to be a genuine
tragedy that society has for so long been forced to rely on the corporate media
for 'accurate' information. Obvious conflicts of interest mean it is all but
impossible for the media to provide this information. We did not expect the
Soviet Communist Party's newspaper Pravda to tell the truth about the Communist
Party, why should we expect the corporate press to tell the truth about
But surely our major authoritative media, such as the BBC, are more or less
neutral in their reporting and analysis?
We believe that media 'neutrality' is a deception that often serves to hide
systematic pro-corporate bias. 'Neutrality' most often involves 'impartially'
reporting dominant establishment views, while ignoring or marginalising
non-establishment views. In reality it is not possible for journalists to be
neutral; regardless of whether we do or do not overtly give our personal
opinion, that opinion is always reflected in the facts we choose to highlight or
While Media Lens seeks to correct some of the worst excesses of corporate media
distortions as honestly as possible, our concern is not to affect some spurious
'objectivity', but to engage with the world to do whatever we can to reduce
suffering and to resist the forces that seek to subordinate human well-being to
profit. We do not believe that passively observing human misery without
attempting to intervene constitutes 'neutrality'. Nor do we believe that
'neutrality' can ever be deemed more important than doing all in our power to
So, what is the fundamental aim of Media Lens ?
We accept the Buddhist viewpoint that while greed, hatred and ignorance distort
reason; compassion empowers it. Our aim is to increase rational awareness,
critical thought and compassion, and to decrease greed, hatred and ignorance.
Our goal is not at all to attack, insult or anger individual editors or
journalists, but to highlight significant examples of the systemic media
distortion that is facilitating appalling crimes against humanity: the failure
to communicate the truth of who is responsible for the slaughter of over half a
million Iraqi children under five since 1991; the silence surrounding the
motives and devastating consequences of corporate obstruction of action on
climate change; the true nature, motives and consequences of 'globalisation';
the corporate degradation and distortion of democratic society and culture.
Our hope is that by so doing we can help all of us to free ourselves from
harmful delusions. In the age of global warming and globalised exploitation
these delusions threaten an extraordinary, and perhaps terminal, disaster. They
should not be allowed to go unchallenged.
We hope that this website will help to turn bystanders into compassionate
actors. As historian Howard Zinn has written:
"Society has varying and conflicting interests; what is called objectivity is
the disguise of one of these interests - that of neutrality. But neutrality is a
fiction in an unneutral world. There are victims, there are executioners, and
there are bystanders... and the 'objectivity' of the bystander calls for
inaction while other heads fall."
As Media Lens urges, reporters and editors should be confronted about their
damaging coverage and I think stations too should be targets of protest.
From: james armstrong <james36armstrong at hotmail.com>
To: londonsocialforum2003 at yahoogroups.com; redpepperdebate at yahoogroups.com;
ukcpn at yahoogroups.com; directactionagainstwar at yahoogroups.com; the land is ours
<diggers350 at yahoogroups.com>; envlist at yahoogroups.com;
esfdemocracy_eurodebate at lists.riseup.net; democracy-forum at yahoogroups.com;
political_science at yahoogroups.com; project2012 at googlegroups.com;
democracyvillage at googlegroups.com; campaignforrealdemocracy at lists.aktivix.org
Sent: Thu, 25 November, 2010 19:58:54
Subject: [Diggers350] Censored!
To-days coverage of the 24rd November student demonstrations in London and
on BBC Radio 4 on the 6pm News slot was brief.
The Financial Times ran a headline ‘Start Up Protests’, with pics.
And inside FT was more coverage with 4 pics
Daily Mail Front Page “ Rage of the Girl Rioters” with pics
Guardian Front Page reads “Schools Out children take to the streets”
Inside G. a double page spread with pics
Daily telegraph reads “Student Protests turn to violence again”.
And inside, “Revolution in the classroom.”
In September 09 the coverage of the Iran presidential elections went on for days
in UK press and t.v,. with interviews of the opposition marchers.
Some days later BBC Radio Four 8am reported (with some disappointment?)
‘there were no demonstrations yesterday in Tehran.’
Listeners/readers will remember the wide coverage of a group of Gurkha
ex-soldiers protesting outside Parliament at receiving smaller pensions than UK
ex soldiers and being refused the right to residence in UK on retirement. I
counted 18 protesters in the group (plus Joanna Lumley) .and there were more
reporters than demonstrators. JL was quoted in full with a hapless Labour
Minister disconsolately nodding approval as she triumphantly repeated the
At the time of the protest of the bhuddist monks in Myanmar, thousands took to
the streets of Rangoon . BBC reporters, in spite of a Myanmar Government ban ,
managed to be present and interviewed protesters. The events were given wide
coverage on t.v. and in the UK press.
On a Sunday early in February 2003, some one to two million people peacefully
demonstrated against the imminent invasion of Iraq, marching from the
Embankment via Whitehall and along Piccadilly massing in Hyde Park to hear a
dozen or so speakers including Wedgie Benn, say ‘No’ Other demonstrations
took place simultaneously up and down the country and also in USA.
Later that day I listened on the evening radio news programmes for reports and
heard nothing. Next day I got the Observer- nothing . The sole coverage had
been a feature had been a big article in the Saturday Guardian on the eve of
the demo ( with pics )
I could find no reports of this anti Iraq invasion demo , nor pics nor radio
coverage in the days following.
What does this say about freedom of the press? Where are our fearless
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