News media

News media03 May 2006 10:54 pm

NewspaperThe mainstream media are still whipping themselves into a froth about bloggers.

In an article titled Media holds its own in trust poll, the BBC interprets the answers given to a preposterously-worded survey of the type mentioned in the post below.

Unsurprisingly, the article only reaches conclusions which suit its host website’s purposes. In fact, a whopping 39% of voters replied that they do not trust the big media. That statistic, naturally, is glossed over.

“More people around the world trust the media than trust their governments”, the article cries. And: “Overall levels of trust in the media have risen in the past four years, the poll suggests.”

Weirdly: “In the US, 67% said they trusted the government compared with 59% prepared to put their trust in the media.” Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I suppose… But I’m getting off the point. (Bloggers and their digressions, eh? In my day a journalist had discipline. You had 200 words and 10 minutes to write them, and god help you if… etc)

Here are the slippery words the BBC writes about blogs:

“Blogs are among the online sources that people are consulting, although few place ultimate trust in their content: 25% said they trusted blogs, with almost the same number (23%) distrusting them.”

In other words, only 23% of people say they don’t trust blogs at all compared with 25% who definitely do. Presumably this means that the remaining 52% said they always did, usually did, sometimes did, or don’t read blogs at all. In other words, it’s possible that the majority of people who regularly read blogs said they find their chosen sources credible. You’d be forgiven for reading the emphasis the other way round, as that is clearly the intention behind this eely use of language.

Finally, the BBC insists: “The most trusted media outlets around the world were large global news organisations such as the BBC or CNN.”

Elsewhere, the BBC’s own WeMedia blog adds quotes from Helen Boaden warning of the much-mentioned blog subjectivity problem: “Witness accounts do not necessary give you an objective factual picture. They give you the truth as I see it,” she said. … “The role of journalism is to sift facts and give you a truthful and factual picture.” So there is such a thing as objectivity after all, and it comes bundled with your press card? Please. A child could dismantle this nonsense.

At last, the bottom line: “What many in the news business want to hear is how to make money from this brave new world of blogs, podcasts and citizen journalism.” Well, hold the front page. Oh wait, you already did.

You see, an enormous fuss is being made about “citizen journalism” by the mainstream media lately. We understand why this is: large corporations stand to lose advertising revenue if they lose readers/viewers/consumers. The BBC stands to lose its charter if it loses audience share. Corporations are noticing a downward slide already. This makes shareholders and moguls unhappy. Boo hoo.

So the large media outlets decide to channel their collective energy into an imaginary ‘bloggers vs mainstream journalists’ duel. Such editorial directives come from the very top, from managing directors and proprietors rather than journalists. A journalist can only ever dance to the beat of the paymaster’s drum. Of course, this is one of the ways in which DIY publishers have the edge over professionals.

Et voila: the mainstream media dedicate whole columns to a hollow “objectivity” debate, making sure they never once mention the impossibility of any multinational corporation being objective. They drop snide comments about the “mess” and “credibility issues” of self-published journalism, even in articles about unconnected subjects. They devote vast amounts of time and money trying to work out how best to exploit this tide, and how to avoid being dragged under by it. Look out for it and you’ll be astonished how often the subject of blogs is mentioned.

What all this means is simple. They are really, really worried.

Enjoy your anti-corporate power, “citizen journalists”. It’s time the moneymakers stopped shaping our realities to suit their minority interests. We musn’t let them buy their way out of this one.

News media27 Apr 2006 06:03 pm

Olden days journos The BBC and Reuters are conducting a joint e-survey on “the role that the media plays in fostering trust in an increasingly connected society”. It can be found on the BBC World page with the title “Media e-survey – Do you trust the media? Vote now” and opens in its own pop-up window.

Here’s how it starts:

Question 1 of 8
Who do you trust the most to work in the best interests of society?
* National government
* National media
* Religious leaders
* Business leaders
* Showbiz personalities

Now call me pernickety, but doesn’t every one of those groups work in its own interests first – the pursuit of capital, power, ego or all three – whether or not that action conflicts with the interests of wider society? Do they honestly expect this sort of loaded question to slip past unnoticed?

I never made it to question 2.

Global politics&News media&Self&Writing20 Feb 2006 10:51 am

I spend a small fortune on books as it is, but have just found another book I ‘need’: it is Steven Poole’s Unspeak, an analysis of the slippery language used by governments, media and pressure groups.

Did you know the term “climate change” (as a replacement for the more frightening “global warming”) was invented by a coalition of oil companies led by the US and Saudi Arabia to remove the catastrophic connotations in the original term? Stands to reason, I suppose. Always good to see these things pointed out though, lest we overlook such extraordinary rendition – ha – of language.

Red planet In other news: it would seem that my newborn novel project could loosely be considered science fiction. Not just that, but according to one person, some aspects of it could even be considered a bit science fantasy. Crikey. I’ve never read any so-called science fantasy in my life, to my knowledge. How does that work then? My subconscious mind is a stranger to me, truly.

American politics&British politics&Middle East&News media&The art of blog26 Nov 2005 10:35 am

Publish the Al-Jazeera memo, Tony, you power-crazed maniac
Did George Bush order the Al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar to be bombed? Or did he not?

If he did, did Tony Blair attempt to talk him out of it? Or did he not?

The Daily Mirror says yes. The British newspaper was gagged by the Attorney General after revealing the existence of the memo.

David Keogh and Leo O’Connor, civil servants who handled the memo, are due to appear in court next week, charged under the Official Secrets Act.

Until the memo in question is published, we cannot know for certain. What we do know is that its contents are sufficiently important that a D-notice was slapped on them, forbidding publication. Any editor who does so will be prosecuted for violating national security. To even the least politically-minded, that gesture speaks volumes.

Thankfully, Al-Jazeera aren’t taking this news lying down and are demanding that the memo is published. And several editors (including Tory MP Boris Johnson of the Spectator) and a legion of bloggers (like our own Red, who also designed the jazzy button at the top right of this post) have announced that they’ll happily publish the memo if they’re given a copy.

The Official Secrets Act is supposed to protect the safety of the country, not protect the current government from political embarrassment. I hope the brightest legal minds in the country will put their efforts into making this distinction if David Keogh and Leo O’Connor go to full trial.

If I happen to come across a copy, I’ll post it here and email it to every likeminded editor and blogger I can find. If another blogger or editor publishes the memo, I will be delighted to reproduce it on this blog, and so will plenty of others.

What will they do, arrest us all? Let’s see.

Environment&Global politics&News media21 Sep 2005 02:13 pm

World growth will begin to slow as a result of increased oil prices” squawks the International Monetary Fund’s latest news release.

The IMF mathematical calculation is spot on. However – surprise surprise – the news coverage generated by this is missing three very important points:

1. Oil is finite. Therefore prices are inevitably going to rise as time goes on, because that’s how the free market works.

2. All resources are finite. We have only one planet, for a start. Therefore you can’t have endless economic growth. The idea is nonsensical.

3. Economic “growth” is simply a sly way of saying “increasing the gap between rich and poor”, surely? For every extra buck made by a shareholder, the world loses a little of its natural resources, or space, or air quality. And usually the parts of the world which are most impoverished financially are the parts which suffer the most degraded quality of life as well. Why do journalists paid by huge media conglomerates write about “growth” as though it’s an unequivocally good thing? (Oh wait, the clue’s in the question. Arf.)

Might I respectfully suggest that instead of firing off hysterical news releases, the IMF put their public relations staff to work promoting a new economic model based on something slightly more grown up than wishful thinking, elitism and greed?

Soundtrack to this post: Dirty Cash – The Adventures of Stevie V

News media&Self&The art of blog18 Sep 2005 08:04 pm

I haven’t forgotten about my forthcoming post. It is on its way.

Lately I’ve been even more wildly enraged than usual whenever I come into contact with the corporate news media. I think perhaps the best way to deal with the onslaught of lazy propaganda is to offer a response, by way of counterbalance. And there’s plenty of scope for it. In fact, my only problem would be knowing what to leave out.

In summary: Blogger’s block is so five minutes ago.

And to think I was considering closing this blog on its anniversary!

Welcome to the new Fox season, starting soon, right here.

Soundtrack to this post: Bombonyall – Quannum

News media&Race05 Sep 2005 07:54 pm

Jenni has already mentioned the issue of media race bias, but it bears repeating. Apparently racism runs so deep in the corporate media, it can’t be spotted by a sub-editor even when it’d be glaringly obvious to the average 5-year-old.

Click here, take a look at the cuttings and compare the language used in each.

(Thanks to ‘Looter’ on Indymedia for the image.)

Africa&British politics&Middle East&News media14 Jul 2005 05:17 pm

Another suicide bombing in Baghdad. Happens most days, doesn’t it?

As the article says, “At least 26 Iraqis, almost all of them children, were killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad on Wednesday” as well.

Those people have not been named, their photographs have not been in the international press, and, as Swiss says, we did not observe two minutes of silence for them.

For their bereaved families, our silence must seem permanent.

And oh look, there go a few more of our civil liberties:

“[Charles Clarke] wants to ensure that any non-British citizen suspected of inciting terrorism is deported immediately. … There would be agreements with North African countries to make sure asylum seekers were not tortured on return to their country of origin, says No 10.”

How would that conversation go?

“Excuse me, chaps, you wouldn’t mind not torturing this fellow when we send him back, would you?”

“Not at all, my good man, I will personally see to it that this national absconder and potential terrorist is treated like a long-lost brother the moment he sets foot on Algerian soil.”

What could possibly go wrong?

British politics&News media&Race&South Asia14 Jul 2005 01:05 pm

Let’s get one thing straight. The three named men suspected of bombing London were British.

I don’t care where their parents came from years ago, or what their religion was, or what levels of melatonin were in their skin.

They were British.

This may seem a minor issue to you. But if Britain starts channelling its collective fear and indignation into attacking its own population – or rather, those of its population who happen to tan easily and have names like Shafiq and Tariq rather than John and Andrew – then we are in even worse trouble than we thought.

If you don’t want to sit next to any bearded men of south Asian ancestry on public transport from now on, that’s your prerogative. But you’d better hope or pray to your applicable deity that any future bomb isn’t detonated by a white or black or Pacific Asian maniac with a grudge. There are no guarantees.

edit: …and this mainstream BBC article is so them-and-us, it’s not even funny.

edit 2:… and the media is now reporting that the fourth bomber is “understood to be Jamaican-born Lindsey Germaine, who lived in Buckinghamshire”. So there we are: a suicide bomber who didn’t fit the visual stereotype. Hold the front page.

Soundtrack to this post: Lifelines – A-ha

British politics&Middle East&News media09 Jul 2005 10:11 am

And after the shock… the analysis.

I found these articles especially interesting, and surprisingly outspoken at a time when such sentiment is easily quashed for being “inappropriate”.

“The prime minister’s early return to Westminster was a fitting response to the carnage unleashed on the capital. It was the only hint of personal responsibility for our entanglement in a war that has made prime targets of innocent Britons.” – Faisal Bodi, The Guardian

“You talk about al-Qaeda. Have you forgotten who has bred al-Qaeda? … It’s the illegitimate child of America and Israel, but you name it Islam. This savagery is not Islam. It is coming from inside of you and it is now punching you. … You train terrorists and state terrorism.” – Ayatollah Emami-Kashani, BBC

Soundtrack to this post: I Fire Myself – Mary Timony

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