NEWSPEAK – A New Media Lens Book And An Urgent Appeal For Support

We are delighted to announce that a new Media Lens book, ‘NEWSPEAK in the 21st Century,’ will be published by Pluto Press in the autumn.

John Pilger says of our book:

“Not since Orwell and Chomsky has perceived reality been so skilfully revealed in the cause of truth.”

Alongside chapters on Iraq and climate change, NEWSPEAK moves the focus on from our first book (Guardians Of Power, Pluto Press, 2006). We examine the demonisation of Iran and Venezuela, as well as the inbuilt bias in the reporting of the Israel-Palestine conflict. We take a look behind the scenes at the Guardian, the Independent and the BBC, and ask which interests these ‘liberal’ media really represent. The cynical art of smearing “willy waving” dissidents is also explored. Two chapters are devoted entirely to the BBC, including a handy A-Z of BBC brainwashing. A final chapter attempts to redefine honest journalism, and to answer the question: ‘So what do we do?’.

It’s an all-star cast! Andrew Marr, Alan Rusbridger, Roger Alton, David Aaronovitch, Jon Snow, Nick Cohen, Mark Urban, Matt Frei, Jeremy Bowen, Nick Davies, George Monbiot, and more. Read them and weep!

An Urgent Appeal

We had enormous fun writing NEWSPEAK, but it was a real challenge to maintain a regular flow of Media Alerts. Readers may be surprised to learn that after nearly eight years, David Cromwell continues to work on Media Lens entirely in his spare time after finishing paid work. Our other writer, David Edwards, spends most of his time on Media Lens and related freelance journalism.

Our hopes that both of us might be able to work full-time on Media Lens – a not unreasonable goal, one would think – suffered a serious blow last month when Edwards lost the additional income he had been earning from freelance journalism. We have sufficient funds from donations to continue supporting him for the rest of the year. But without a substantial increase in financial support he may also be forced to resort to other paid work.

This is the harsh reality facing anyone who challenges the corporate media. People sometimes write to us praising our “courage” and warning us to take care because we are surely attracting attention from “intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic” (perhaps not “vast”!) among the powers that be. But this is not how control is managed in our society.

The first result of choosing a life of dissent is that one is simply starved of resources. The corporations that dominate society are not interested in publishing material criticising the corporate media, no matter how important and insightful it might be. Even progressive publishers are afraid to handle this criticism because they fear reprisals (fewer book reviews, for example) from the big newspapers.

The second, related result is that one is starved of publicity and public outreach. Pilger may rank NEWSPEAK alongside the work of Orwell and Chomsky; but our previous book, Guardians Of Power, has never been mentioned, let alone reviewed, in any national UK newspaper. People can’t support us if they don’t know we exist.

As regular readers will know, the issue of motivation is paramount for us. In ‘Leaves of the Heaven Tree’, the 11th century Buddhist poet, Ksemendra, denounced his own thoughts:

“I am ashamed of my own mind! When I give in to such destructive thoughts, my mind becomes unstable. The thoughts of wealth and glory that arise first are like poison ivy: they harm merely by a touch, enchanting and paralysing the mind.”

We also believe that the craving for money and respectability subtly poisons the mind, degrading the capacity for compassion, the ability to perceive clearly the causes of suffering.

But the fact is that we only have so much time and energy, which means we do depend on financial support to free us from other kinds of work. At present, we have around 12,000 ‘subscribers’ who receive our free Media Alerts and Cogitations – tens of thousands more read them via allied websites. Of these, just 122 currently donate money on a fixed monthly basis.

We are extremely grateful for these regular contributions, as we are for the one-off donations. But without receiving greater financial support from somewhere, Media Lens cannot grow and may well shrink. This is so frustrating for us because we are very keen to develop the project, for example by capturing news broadcasts for use in enhanced online Media Alerts, and by producing our own video blogs for websites like YouTube.