Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is this UK media's Waterloo?


With the News of the World phone hacking scandal knocking over its own set of dominoes,  a real debate is kicking off in Britain over the state of the country's mainstream media and in particular the uncomfortably cozy nature of the way in which big business, journalists and politicians work together to decide upon what the rest of us get to consume as news.

In many respects the situation in Britain closely replicates the situation here in Greece as far as the media is concerned. In both countries media conglomerates are owned by the very rich who do not hesitate to use their position to set the political agenda in order to ensure their interests are either protected or extended. In this they are assisted by both journalists and politicians eager to curry favour with owners in return for the kind of publicity that will advance their careers.

As for the rest of us, we are just treated as rather silly children who must be seen but not heard, occasionally a few of us are asked our opinion on the issues of the day but this is little more than window dressing, and is no way is allowed to interfere with the media's real job which is promoting the views of the wealthy and powerful.

I suppose those living in Greece should be thankful that the local media corporations are less practiced in the dark arts of spin than their UK counterparts and so their efforts often fail to convince, either that or Greeks, long accustomed to the constant media drone of state and non state propaganda are less credulous than UK consumers and so more cyncial about whatever claim or counter claim the media chooses to make.

Following the flame out at News International it is time once again to look at the simmering conlict between old and new media or perhaps more accurately between corporate embedded media and those operating outside the hermetically sealed world of political reporting. For too long those of using the new, powerful tools offered by the internet have taken traditional journalism's claims about superior accuracy and professionalism for granted.

What is emerging now in the wake of News of the World/ Times debacle is cold, hard truth is that much of commercial journalism is deeply corrupt and has no real claim to being better than the work done by bloggers and the like. When the slick presentaion is removed what really distinguishes media players from their independent counterparts? It certainly isn't integrity if the stories coming out of Wapping are to be believed.

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