- In Alerts 2003
- Post 30 September 2003
- Last Updated on 30 September 2003
- Hits: 11365
Long years of habit have persuaded many of us to casually hand over our money to large media corporations portraying themselves as truly 'independent' 'guardians' of people and democracy. In reality they are all firmly embedded in a system of greedy and ruthless power that precisely depends on deception and public ignorance.
The media forever adhere to a giant 'gentleman's agreement' whereby occasional references to the truth are made but almost no one goes 'too far' in challenging established power. Consider the former UN humanitarian coordinator, Denis Halliday, who has repeatedly described Western sanctions policy in Iraq as "genocidal", and who resigned in protest in September 1998 - an unprecedented event at such a senior level in the UN. Halliday was responsible for setting up the UN's 'oil for food' programme in Iraq - he knows what he's talking about.
And yet in more than 10,500 articles on Iraq, its recent history, its problems, its apparently endless suffering, Halliday has been mentioned twice in the Guardian and Observer this year. Chief Unscom weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, who described Iraq 90-95%, or "fundamentally", disarmed of WMD by December 1998, has been mentioned 13 times in these 10,500 articles.
This is not hard science, but it is a snapshot indication of the true extent to which you, we, and the people of Iraq are being betrayed by our 'best' media. This is no joke - people are literally paying with their lives for this media subservience to power.
If our own government's genocide is not a worthy subject even of discussion, even of debate, then what price honest debate on any of the other vital issues and crises that are looming over society but that also happen to tread on the sensitive toes of important people?
It's time now to seriously start building non-corporate media willing to challenge the corporate monopoly on truth. If we had powerful alternative media outlets motivated by authentic compassion and concern for others, rather than bottom-line profits, the world would be a very different place. But Noam Chomsky comments on our passivity in supporting such alternatives:
"We're so anti-social that we don't even see the point of supporting popular institutions. Remember, even if you're an activist on the left, what you've constantly been taught from childhood, and what you've still got ingrained in your head is: 'I'm just out for myself, and therefore if I can get the information for nothing, why should I help to build an institution?' Well, that's obviously a very anti-social attitude - but you find it's very hard to break out of: we've just got it." (Chomsky, Understanding Power, The New Press, 2002, p.279)
Please Support Media Lens
Word about the Media Lens project continues to spread. Since March, we have been writing regularly for the New Statesman magazine, our Media Alerts have been posted across the internet, in magazines, and also published in several collections of essays on the war on Iraq, media issues, and so on. Inspired by our example, similar sites have been set up, or are being planned, in Australia, Canada, Denmark and India. By last Christmas, we had recorded 100,000 hits to the site after 18 months of activity - a figure that now stands at some 320,000 hits.
The response of the mainstream continues to be predictable. We are widely read within the media - as we know from our subscriber database and also from journalists occasionally breaking cover to take issue with what we have written! We have been quoted by the BBC (Newsnight), the Observer (unattributed), the Guardian, the Daily Mirror and the Times. And yet, supportive mentions by John Pilger in the New Statesman aside, there has been not one attempt to investigate the purpose or possible significance of what we are doing.
Thanks to very kind donations by readers and subscribers, one of us (David Edwards) has for the first time been able to take six months off other paid work from June of this year to concentrate on Media Alerts and also (with David Cromwell) on the writing of the first Media Lens book, provisionally titled: Guardians Of Power - The Great Liberal Media Lie. Funds are now running low, however, and if we are to maintain, and even expand, our activities, we need any financial support you might feel able to offer.
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It's hard to exaggerate the significance of this support. Quite simply, rather than doing other paid work, it means we can focus all our time and energy on developing Media Lens.
It seems to us that the internet offers an extraordinary, and at present largely unchecked, tool for challenging organisations which have for so long subordinated people and planet to short-term profit. Important facts and ideas challenging state-corporate deceptions that might once have appeared after a month's delay in magazines with tiny circulations, are today instantly snapped up and forwarded around the world to hundreds of thousands of people. Because people have a nose for truth, the best material is not being swamped by 'information overload' - it is getting through.
We are determined to make the most of this opportunity to challenge destructive power in a way that, we believe, is unprecedented. But we can't do it alone - we really do need your support.
David Edwards, David Cromwell and Phil Chandler