We are happy to announce that, beginning September 20, David Cromwell took the big leap out of paid work into full-time co-editing of Media Lens, there to join David Edwards who has been working full-time on the project since 2002.
This represents a huge step forward for us, one that for a long time appeared unachievable. After all, the web is awash with websites and bloggers asking for support: for donations, adverts, even for a few words to fill their empty comment boxes. We have no glossy advertisers, no wealthy philanthropists helping behind the scenes. And of course we don’t charge.
This means we are dependent on the £1, £2, £5 and sometimes higher monthly donations we receive from individual readers. If, as Roger Alton, former editor of the Observer and Independent, argues, we are “poisonous cunts”, then truly we are the People’s Poisonous Cunts. We only exist because members of the public find value in what we write and choose to support us.
And it is not because we have inherent credibility – we have none. We are not tenured professors at prestigious universities; we are not boosted by a world-famous newspaper. We are two people writing on the internet. In a protracted sneer, the Observer’s foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont described us as “these self-appointed media watchdogs”. And that’s the point: we are appointed by no-one; we are accountable to no authority. It is difficult for Beaumont and his pals to understand, but that is what people like about our work.
Having both of us working full-time on Media entails a level of risk. We estimate that, on current levels of funding, we will be broke within four years. But living in a state of financial insecurity is not wholly negative. A sense of security promotes complacency and the illusion that it is possible to be truly secure. As Geshe Lhundub Sopa writes:
“Should someone who has fallen from the peak of a very high mountain feel happy as they fall through the air heading toward destruction? Since they are running toward death from the time of their birth, how can sentient beings find happiness during the interval of life?”
To feel insecure is to be aligned with the reality of life’s transience, fragility and suffering. This is the basis of humility and compassion.
In the unlikely event of us having to ditch the Media Lens biplane at sea, as it were, we would return to teaching and research work while continuing to do what we could on Media Lens in our spare time, which is how we started. So all would not be lost. We, of course, would prefer for that not to happen – in our strange world, time not spent on Media Alerts and Cogitations often feels like time wasted. So your continued support is very much appreciated.
The best way to help us is to send a monthly donation via PayPal or a standing order with a UK bank: http://www.medialens.org/donate
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of Media Lens in 2011, other exciting developments lie ahead. At the end of this week, we are launching a new version of our website. Media Lens webmaster, Olly Maw, who has a vested interest, tells us this will allow “a much greater degree of interactivity and interconnectivity”. It will allow us to publish more technically sophisticated Media Alerts which will come with immediate and direct URLs, i.e. permanent links (unlike now). This is also the first time that the complete 10 year archive of 472 alerts will be properly formatted and searchable. We will have many different RSS feeds on key pages of the site, and social networkers can ‘Like’ and ‘Tweet’ individual pages/alerts. We will also have the ‘Email a page to a friend’ function and ‘Printer friendly’ options. The new website will go live on November 26, here:
We are also working hard to master the skills required to produce video versions of our Media Alerts (any technical help very gratefully received). We hope to produce our first Video Alert early in 2011.
Also, in December, John Pilger is releasing his new film, ‘The War You Don’t See’. To be shown in cinemas and broadcast in the UK on ITV on December 14, this is “a powerful and timely investigation into the media’s role in war, tracing the history of ‘embedded’ and independent reporting from the carnage of World War One to the destruction of Hiroshima, and from the invasion of Vietnam to the current war in Afghanistan and disaster in Iraq”. You can see a trailer here. Media Lens supported the film-makers with research and media analysis.
Many thanks for your support.
David Edwards, David Cromwell and Olly Maw