Freedom of the press is not free but people today refuse to pay and as a result are being made very stupid in a deliberate conspiracy by corporations to deny the people truth.
It was while training want-to-be journalists in Mauritania in 2003 on the Nine Obligations of a Journalist (1), when one of those present asked me: “And what of the obligations of the public towards the reporters?” I had to sit down. Not only had nobody ever asked me that before but the thought that the public had a duty towards me, the reporter, had never entered my mind. This was at the beginning of World Wide Web’s imposing radical changes on us all.
So, I thought about it, and like thousands of others, continued to think about it. In this day and age of “the press is the enemy of the people” and “everything is ‘Fake News’ except the ‘Alternative Facts,’” I think, yes, it might be time to hit the news consumer with a few realities only he can choose to fix and save.
Gathering news costs money; Lots of it. A correspondent in Baghdad can easily cost over a million dollars a year when security and all is included.
No, it’s not free.
Most consumers of news don’t understand that because it is all accessed free on search engines. They don’t realize that operators like Google or Yahoo don’t produce news or carry out investigations. They just aggregate the work of others. But what they do do is make billions for free off of other people’s labor and investment. Those who produce the news might be lucky to see five cents on the dollar the GAFA (Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon etc.) earn from selling other people’s labor to advertisers and clients.
Hundreds of thousands of reporters around the world have lost their jobs as corporations reduce budgets, close foreign bureaus and hire cheap talent. Thank about it, Dear News Consumer: that 20-something in the newsroom (often with a low neckline and nice tits) telling you all about the overthrow of the military regime in Algeria, has never been out of the news room, doesn’t know any Algerians nor their history. They get pictures, once over the satellite feed, now straight from the web, for free often, from people who frequently aren’t even paid for their images, edit those pictures together at their desk in the newsroom in Paris, London , New York…, take agency dispatches and try to make sense of them and write a story which is grammatically correct and lacks so much context, it is just plain dead wrong. This is what you are eating every day.
Bon appétit or indigestion.
Now think about this, Dear News Consumer. Who would have every interest in you being as badly informed (ignorant and stupid) as possible. Oh, the same 1% who control the corporate news media, often linked to the military industrial complex, feeding you uncontrolled, unverified ‘news’ to sell you junk which makes you even more fat and stupid? The war they are trying to serve you in Venezuela today is a good example. Eat it up. You’re paying.
Dear Consumers of news. You are caught in a bind. You can swallow the garbage large media consortiums want to feed you to keep you dumb, ignorant, angry at the wrong people and buying unnecesarry things. Or you can support those who really are trying to dig up the truth and get it out to you. Yes, I know, it means paying for it. Buy an independent newspaper or support an independent site of investigative journalism.
What is happening now, is all those who would like to destroy the people’s access to the truth, because it would threaten their parasitical 1% existence if people knew the truth, control the media. The Independents and free cannot compete. Only the news consumer can make that happen.
I know this hurts. But if you want access to truth and quality investigation, buy a newspaper! It’s your life, your world and your kids’s future.
- The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, Completely Updated and Revised, 2007.