As a recovering journalist I take umbrage when US President Donald J. Trump lashes out at the Media and labels them ‘Fake News.’
In a democratic society the Media plays a vital role and has earned the title the ‘Fourth Estate’ (the other three being the clergy, the nobility and us, the commoners). Its function is to impartially report and question the prevailing narratives of our time.
As an ex-journalist I am increasingly worried about this objective, impartial stance that the Media has been built upon. It is being eroded by corporate and political favouritism, industry consolidation and a general dumbing down of society by reducing political and social discourse to the lowest common denominator by focusing on trite celebrity content to boost circulation and avoiding controversial subjects that might adversely affect its marketing income.
The very concept of a free and independent press ensures, nay, relies on, objective reporting. Being objective in reporting these days appears to mean quantifying the largesse of a Kardashian derriere, rather than creating room for the discussion of important topics such a climate change, economic reform and the critical review of existing power and decision-making structures.
The monopolistic, monolithic approach of the Media Giants needs to be challenged. But by whom? Big business and the political establishment have no interest in doing this.
Grassroots journalism, as in days of yore, might be an answer. But as long as the Press continue to rely on advertising income this will never have any effect.
To create a free independent Press and Media sector, the prevailing funding models needs to be re-evaluated and the giant corporations need to be dismantled, channel by channel, title by title.
Only by supporting our local media outlets, and removing the need for advertising dollars, can we hope to return a modicum of impartiality to the Media.
Likewise, the heavily curated feeds in social media that are used to reinforce our existing opinions and confirm our biased view of the world need to be dismantled.
Our power as individuals, societies and nations, our right to self-expression, were hard-won. We are but a few ‘likes’ from raising the white flag of surrender in an era of relentless propaganda.
The alternative is resistance.
By: TS O’Rourke