freedom of the press is withering

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  • Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - 04:15am

    #21

    AKGrannyWGrit

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    Pablum

The public may demand pablum but many of us come here to learn, to encounter thought provoking conversation and ideas. We get the benefit of others perspectives, knowledge and teachings. And, in the process we often encounter humor and a few oddballs too. Thanks to all who take the time to share which really is teaching. I personally look forward to finding out what path my thoughts will be lead to from the discussions and topics on this site. Keep posting you never know who needs to hear what you have to say.
AK Granny

  • Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - 07:09am

    #22

    Travlin

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    It’s nice to be noticed

[quote=AkGrannyWGrit]And, in the process we often encounter humor and a few oddballs too.[/quote]

“I resemble that remark.”  cool

Travlin 

  • Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - 12:00pm

    #23

    Nervous Nelly

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    Welcome Mackay

Thank you Mackay. Interesting indeed.  The public gets what it wants  (clicks , subscriptions…etc) . Money talks.  I guess the public prefers pleasure than pain. Deeply ingrained in our most basic humain nature.

We also need fresh outlooks coming in here because we also get stuck in our own collective views and perceptions on PP. You just threw a stick in our wheel .    What a twist on our perceived assumptions here.

Sonya 

  • Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - 04:48pm

    #24

    fionnbharr

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    Snake Oil

Mac,

I read what you wrote and found I agree with both you and ao for different reasons. Yes, journalism is the peoples choice, with a cause and effect of collective choice an end result often far from acceptable – even to the journalists that write it.

This is where I – and I think ao –  visualize the steering force of public relations working behind what drives the media.

To paraphrase Robert Anton Wilson, perception is a gamble and not reality. I think this rings true. If perception can be twisted – using cultural devise or such – the outcome can be something as simple as a means of distraction.

When first thinking of how I wished to respond, I thought of a quote by Chomsky [On Power and Ideology]:

One of the most effective devices is to encourage debate, but within a system of unspoken presuppositions that incorporate the basic principle of doctrinal systems. These principles are therefore removed from inspection; they become the framework for thinkable thought, not objects of rationale consideration.

Thankfully, I found Ellis Medavoy [hat tip RogerA] putting it in plainer english:

[T]he propagandist creates a fact that will result in a human emotion. I say fact, and the human being reacts with, say, outrage. Now we're cooking. Now we have a fact that gets an emotion sprouting all over the place. The emotion is the closer, the convincer. Now the human being really believes in the fact because, after all, he just responded to it! What could be better than that? [T]he human being is so self-centered that he believes his own emotion makes a fact real. He is saying, essentially, this fact couldn't be a lie because I just felt A, B and C.

In my search today, these quotes above lead me to a (2007) transcripted interview on the subject of the blogosphere, and how it has effected mainstream media:

Implicit behind a lot of this stuff, like being asked to do blogging, is that we're getting a more representative view of the public.

That's a great paradox. It's a wider thing than the internet, but the internet sums it up. It's that on the surface it says that "the internet is a new form of democracy". So what you're seeing is a new pluralism, a new collage, a new mosaic of all sorts of different ideas that's genuinely representative.

But if you analyse what happens, it simplifies things.

First of all, the people who do blogging, for example, are self-selecting. […] The internet has removed a lot of constraints on them. You know what they're like: they can be emotional, and they often do little research of their own.

What then happens is this idea of the 'hive mind', instead of leading to a new plurality or a new richness, leads to a growing simplicity.

The bloggers from one side act to try to force mainstream media one way, the others try to force it the other way. So what the mainstream media ends up doing is it nervously tries to steer a course between these polarised extremes.

So you end up with a rigid, simplified view of the world, which is negotiated by mainstream media in response to […] extremities.

Far from being "the wisdom of crowds", it's the stupidity of crowds. Collectively what we are doing is creating a more simplified world.

So it's more homogeneous?

Yes, it is.

I've talked to news editors in America. What they are most frightened of is an assault by the bloggers. They come from the left and the right. They're terrified. If they stray one way they'll get monstered by bloggers on the right. If they stray the other way they'll get monstered by bloggers from the left. So they nervously try and creep along, like a big animal in Toy Story – hoping not to disturb the demons that are out there.

It leads to a sort of nervousness. The moment a media system becomes infected by nervousness it starts to decline.

Isn't that a specifically American problem? I remember the first time I walked into a newspaper office there, I saw all these desks are creaking under their trophies. Each journalist has about twenty awards on his or her desk – that's just armour plating for their egos.

Well, there are two things you are dealing with here.

What it reflects is a much wider insecurity amongst the media class. The media class grew up during a period of certainty which was the Cold War. All those famous reporters bestrode the world and told us what because everything was simple. We knew who was wrong and who was right.

But now they don't know anything. They know nothing!

It started with the Berlin Wall. None of those guys predicted the Berlin Wall would come down. Ever since then it's been quite clear that most mainstream news journalism has absolutely no idea about what's really going on. It reports the "factlets" really well, but when it tries to join up the dots, it often leads you into a strange either fantasy world, or simplified world.

But above all they know that they don't really know. And what that leads to is a terrible sense of insecurity.

So what happens? The internet comes along, and the utopians of the internet portray this as a new form of populist democracy. And those media barons who know they don't know what's going on, see in this a wonderful salvation. Because they can then say, "Ah, we'll let the people tell you what's going on".

I see it in my own organisation [BBC Current Affairs]. Those people who run the current affairs organisation embrace this with a, "Ah… oh my god, at last, we're off the hook! User generated content!"

And suddenly you get the world reported in even more fragmented terms – and people have no idea what's going on.

“Far from being ‘the wisdom of crowds’, it’s the stupidity of crowds.”

In a way you can understand why it's happening. It's a loss of confidence in a class that was once supreme, and it's a terrible cocktail. They were brought up to believe they were strong and powerful – but now no one cares, it leads to this terrible arrogance and nervousness. They see User Generated Content as the way out.

But these people are paid a large amount of money, actually, to be clever and to tell us about the world – and they're failing. It's not their fault, but they are failing at it.

[Link to the completed article]

Marshall McLuhan's – The Medium is the Message  – is his coined phrase, meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

I believe society met a threshold many years ago that is playing out in our present. By way of metaphor, we can't put the smoke back in the cigarette:

  • Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - 09:56pm

    #25

    LogansRun

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    Mackey, welcome.I can

Mackey, welcome.

I can appreciate that this is what you understand to be the true situation at AP/Reuters.  But do you or anyone else really believe, that just because you work at an institution, you have the true story behind the agenda, or ownership?

I worked for one of the elite intelligence training groups in the US (world).  I trained, lobbied, coerced, etc….and I was in the top 15% in regards to authority within the organization.  But during the years that I worked there, I had NO idea as to the true nature/workings of the organization or it's true agenda.  Not until I sat down with the Chairperson of my organization (and a "friend of sorts") in my last 2 years of employment, did I come to understand what I had been doing, and why.  I was one of the lucky ones, as I had an inside source (Shit, he was the Chairman and extremely powerful!).  But to this day, none of the people I associated with, have a true sense of what's taking place, and who's truly in charge.  

So Mackey, again I can appreciate your perspective.  But AO's version of the truth, is well documented. Your version is what I'd expect from someone that is an employee of the system.  Nothing wrong with that, but you haven't been able to get out of the "frequency" (This is how the above Chairman explained it to me) to see the truth.  

Welcome again!

PS:  I wish this damn forum had built in spell check!  Makes no damn sense.

[quote=Mackay]

[quote=ao]

And they all get their news from AP and Reuters.  And AP controls Reuters. And the Rothschild family is the majority shareholder of AP. 

[/quote]

Hi ao et al,

My first post here – likely the first of many. I'm quite a fan of this site. I saw the onslaught of reality six months ago when I read, pretty much by accident, The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg. My wife and I will be moving back to my native Canada, from her native Europe, in July to start a homestead.

But that's an aside. I felt compelled to intervene in this thread because I have spent many years working for one of the two media organizations cited above. I needed to clarify that The AP is a co-op – owned collectively by thousands of newspapers across the US. The Rothschild family is not a majority shareholder. Actually, nobody is. The New York Times may have a great deal of influence by being 'the paper of record,' but that's a more nebulous matter. And The AP definitely does NOT control Reuters. Absolutely nothing of the sort. From 1992 to 2003, I worked as a war correspondent for one of those wire services (alongside the oft-cited Chris Hedges). I only wish that I could have influenced the competition!

However, ao, I agree strongly with the gist of your statement – "Freedom of the press is withering."

It's not a matter of sinister secret shareholders censoring our work though. It's much more dangerous than that. It's a matter of the general public telling us what they want, through `likes,' clicks, subscriptions and reader surveys.

The public is an unstoppable force. And what does the public demand? The public demands pablum.

I left the mainstream media two years ago precisely because of that. I had no more respect for my profession.

Let's imagine that, as a general journalist, I had a choice. In this fictional scenario, I can get only one of two scoops:

Scoop 1 – Saudi Arabia's oil reserve numbers are falsified. And I have a video interview with a senior Saudi figure saying it.

Scoop 2 – Justin Bieber is about to dump his girlfriend. And I have a video interview with him saying it.

Which one is going to get more attention (likes, clicks, subscriptions = money)?

I don't need to tell you.

In short, I'm a much maligned lifetime member of The Mainstream Media (TMM). As such, this forum calls me a "Bernanke mouthpiece" a "mainstream toadie," etc. My best friend of 30 years is a high-level investment banker, and my wife is rapidly advancing in the same direction. They are even more maligned than me. But … all three of us are acutely aware of the issues discussed in Peak Prosperity et al. And we would do pretty much anything to head off the coming crisis.

We can't though. The people have made a choice.

Cheers,

Mac

 

[/quote]

  • Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 02:34am

    #26
    ao

    ao

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    is the MSM independent or influenced by the public or by TPTB

 

Hi Mackay,

Back again for a second try. If I am in error about the Rothschild majority shareholder and AP/Reuters issue, I stand corrected. I had read about this quite a while ago and my bad for not going back and checking on it and being accurate in what I stated. So much of what I read spoke of Rothschild control and influence (not necessarily share ownership) of both AP and Reuters and the fact that AP and Reuters essentially appeared as different sides of the same coin.

Since “AP is a co-op – owned collectively by thousands of newspapers across the US”, how do the owners exercise their ownership interests? Does each one have an equal share or single vote or is ownership based on size? There is a CEO and executive board, correct? Are they free of any kind of direction from a higher authority? The reason why I ask these questions is that communal ownership rarely remains completely communal. Sooner or later, especially with an entity as influential as the AP, a small group, handful of individuals, or individual grabs power, especially when a power vacuum exists. Also, co-ops are generally started by a small number of people but even though membership is expanded, power usually remains with the small handful OR an outside power intercedes and grabs the reins of power.

For example, on a much smaller scale, when I think of Co-op City in NYC, those building weren't just put up by a group of ordinary people deciding to build some housing. There was major money, influence, connections, and power behind that. The organization benefits a specific power interest, despite much PR to the contrary. I have a hard time imaging the same isn't true for the AP.

Also, what I find interesting is what AP (and Reuters) cover and, even more so, what they don't cover. Stories which support a particular agenda are repeated again and again in various permutations and combinations. A good example is this winter's repeated story of the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu. We were given horror stories of young children dying, mothers of children dying, middle aged people dying, and the elderly dying (covering the entire age demographic in successive articles), all drumming home the point that great horrors would befall you if you didn't get vaccinated. Of course, to give the (false) impression of equal treatment of all sides of the issue, a story appeared about “alternative” health approaches to the flu but the topic was treated dismissively and the article was punctuated with stern warnings about only going with trusted (i.e. pharmaceutically backed) therapies. Of course, the subsequent article that just came out last week about the gross failure of the flu vaccine to help more than a very small portion of those inoculated (I don't have time to check the number but is was under 10%) barely got any media attention and certainly was not repeated over and over and endlessly rammed down our throats like the former articles.

Furthermore, I've never seen the AP address, to any substantial or deep extent, the inner workings of the Federal Reserve Bank (or any of the other central banks or the BIS, for that matter), fiat currency, historical hyperinflationary calamities, fractional reserve banking, banker support of everything from the Russian Communist revolution to the Nazis, the abject failure of the CFTC to prosecute any wrongdoings of substance, growing income and wealth inequality, or any other newsworthy information that may run counter to the agenda of the monied interests. On the other hand, there are endless articles of the “happy days are here again” type hyping our recovering economy.

Furthermore, the MSM, in general, gives virtually no attention to such topics as the positive accomplishments of faith based organizations, the virtues and strengths of the traditional family unit, successful citizen prevention of crime with firearms, great scientists or mathematicians in our society who have contributed to the welfare of us all, how students can achieve academic and life success on their own terms, how people can learn how to learn (rather than always trusting in an external authority), cutting dependence on centralized authorities and services, etc. On the contrary there is a great deal of attention to endless criticism of various societal standards, mores, and structures and a persistent trend towards social actions that are progressively destabilizing societies.

With regards to your allusion to the AP and Reuters competition, there is indeed competition. But it reminds me of the competition between the US Army and the US Marine Corp or that between the CIA and the NSA. They're competing in a manner of speaking but both for the same cause and under the same control and direction. Their stories never seem at great odds with one another whereas very often, the alternative media provides a whole different slant on an issue or event.

AP's stated mission is “to gather with economy and efficiency an accurate and impartial report of the news”. I'm curious if you actually believe that? I know I don't. Accuracy is not infrequently questionable and impartiality is largely non-existent any more, at least where political and economic forces come into play.

There is no doubt that there is a consolidation of media organizations. As the saying goes, “Little by little, more and more is being controlled by fewer and fewer.” And AP and Reuters certainly control the lion's share of the news of national and international significance. There are abundant rumors of Rothschild ownership or control or influence of these organizations to the extent that there would seem to be some kernel of truth there. Of course, with the Rothschild family (and the Rockefeller family as well), we've been led to believe that their 19th century and early 20th century wealth has dwindled away and while they are wealthy, they are certainly not the powerhouses like Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, et al. Of course, the possibility of tracking the wealth of the Rothschilds and Rockefellers with their spiderwebbed trusts, foundations, holding companies, shell companies, etc. is a virtual impossibility without their expressed consent (a situation which is unlikely in the extreme), If you notice, they've disappeared from various lists like Forbes' of the wealthiest people in the world. To that I say, if you believe that their wealth has largely vanished, someone may have a bridge in Brooklyn they'd like to sell you.

I'm glad you agree with the gist of my statement about the freedom of the press withering. However, to refer to sinister secret shareholders censoring the work of the media is, if you'll forgive, an overly simplistic if not cartoonish, representation of the situation. If it were only that overt. We know the level of control is far more subtle and sophisticated than that. Even years ago, with old masters like Bernays and Goebbels, it was more sophisticated … and even clumsy modern American practitioners like James Carville and Karl Rove have it down to a high science.

I agree with you about the culpability of the public in this matter but to blame it entirely on the public, or even to blame a major portion of it on the public, is, to me, disingenuous. Who creates the programming? Is it the MSM or the public? Why the MSM, of course. The public wasn't clamoring for reality TV. But the MSM gave them that low brow fodder and then started paying attention to consumer reaction and sentiment, carefully tailoring and repackaging the product to the most plebeian of tastes.

The public is indeed an unstoppable force. But that force is similar to an unthinking herd of stampeding cattle. The question is, who starts the stampede and in which direction do they drive the cattle? It is our educational system (which is under many of the same influences as the media) and the MSM which create, shape, and mold the beliefs, opinions, wishes, desires, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions of the public. The oft used saying, “garbage in, garbage out” holds just as true with the intelligence, reasoning facility, and wisdom of the public. Regarding your scoop 1 on energy issues and scoop 2 on celebrity issues, it's the media that hypes the latter. The fans simply follow where they are led. Certainly, useful and enlightening intellectual material could be made interesting, appealing, and exciting with the right touch and the right skills. But it's virtually never done. Heaven forbid the MSM might cultivate an informed, enlightened, intelligent, questioning, reasoning, and wise public.

And in the rare instance of the media doing the latter such as NPR, the lean of the material is unfailing to the left. If the media is so focused on responding to the clicks, likes, etc., why is the right totally neglected with the exception of Fox. I'm not saying this in support of Fox. By and large, I eschew the MSM in its entirety. But the unfailing slant of the media to the left is most certainly pervasive.

In short, the public wants pablum because if they're starving and that's all they're fed, that's what they'll gorge themselves on. The fact that a large percentage of the public is not satisfied with pablum is clearly demonstrated by the large scale abandonment of the MSM for alternative media. This abandonment is especially true of the young who recognize how they've been deceived and have been led astray by the MSM and are looking elsewhere in their search for information and ultimately, the truth.

With regards to being a much maligned member of the MSM (the convention here rather than TMM), do you think that scorn is undeserved? How about your investment banker friend and wife? Do they think the scorn is undeserved? Or have they convinced themselves that, like Llyod Blankfein, they are “doing God's work” or like my nephew and his former investment banker girl friend, that they are serving the public interest by facilitating efficient distribution of capital? Or are they willing to abandon their careers based on principle alone? Would they really do pretty much anything head off the coming crisis? Because if they really mean that, they wouldn't continue doing what they are doing.

When you say the people have made a choice, it reminds me of the choice that is made for the Chairperson of the Federal Reserve Bank. If I'm not mistaken, the choice the POTUS makes is from a slate of candidates … provided by the Fed … so he really has no choice. It's like the German people in the early 1930s being offered a choice of Herr Hitler, Herr Himmler, Herr Goerring, Herr Goebbels, or Herr Borman. Heads they don't win, tails they lose.

I hope to hear more of your thoughts and perspective as a MSM insider. Once again, welcome to the site.

 

  • Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 02:39am

    #27
    ao

    ao

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    LogansRun wrote:I can

[quote=LogansRun]

I can appreciate that this is what you understand to be the true situation at AP/Reuters.  But do you or anyone else really believe, that just because you work at an institution, you have the true story behind the agenda, or ownership?

you haven't been able to get out of the "frequency" (This is how the above Chairman explained it to me) to see the truth.  

[/quote]

Exactly!  In my own field, the vast majority of those within the health care field seem to be the most blind to its failings.  The exceptions are rare.

  • Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 02:44am

    #28
    ao

    ao

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    fionnbharr,Excellent

fionnbharr,

Excellent thoughts. 

  • Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 08:37am

    #29
    Mackay

    Mackay

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    Hello all,And thanks for the

Hello all,

And thanks for the many welcomes! Even with ocassional differences in opinion, we're clearly on the same side here.

It looks like I'll have to answer in batches though – quite a few questions.

 

[quote=gillbilly]

I'm wondering what you're thoughts are on the internet as a source of news? Where the MSM seems to consolidate their news into two opposing viewpoints, leaving the reader to "decide," the internet is often awash in hackneyed opinions making it difficult to decide what is credibile.

[/quote]

You touch on one of the biggest problems with the way media works – the obsessive need to get two sides to the story. It forces us to give near equal time to a viewpoint that we know to be nonsense, if not outright lies. In other words, it forces us to give wide exposure to the self-interested, liars, etc, who may be simply making things up. On the other hand, the mainstream media is much more likely to get its facts straight than random internet opinions, with a system of fact checkers, etc. Neither system is satisfactory.

I guess the best (online) alternative we have so far are sites such as PP. The community is highly interested in a topic, and small enough that people get to know each other enough to judge credibility.

You also commented that "Your friends in the banking system who on the outside may look like the 1%, may acknowledge on the inside they feel like a "cog in the wheel" of a system in which they have no control."

You hit the nail on the head. The problem is that a system has been in place since before we became journalists, investment bankers, educators, etc. It can only be challenged bit by bit, as we enter the profession. To reject it totally is to not enter the profession at all. Or to leave it, as Chris Hedges did.

Mackay

 

  • Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 09:07am

    #30
    Mackay

    Mackay

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    Hi Fionnbharr,I guess my

Hi Fionnbharr,

I guess my above comment about entering a pre-established system is summed up better in your Chomsky quote. Perhaps more concrete examples would be useful.

For about a year, I covered global energy. At the time, oil was at about $20. I got an anlyst report claiming that he could see it shooting up to $50 – or even more. He was such an outlier that he didn't get much coverage. For me to justify writing a story about that prediction, I would have had to prove the guy had the extraordinary evidence to back up his extraordinary claim.  The decision to give little space to that story was based on what the average reader would consider credible.

Now, imagine if he had said $147.50! At the time, he would have been labelled a kook and I would have been labelled gullible. Unless, of course, I doublechecked all his research myself, and then got another several experts to agree with him on the record.

1 – With internet-timed deadlines, there is never enough time to check all his work.

2 – If he's already an outlier, where am I going to find the other sources to back him up?

Just a few of the myriad limitations.

Another post above – sorry but I can't remember the name of the poster at the moment – spoke about journalism's susceptibility to PR, misinformation, etc. Of course, it's highly susceptible. Journalists work with limited word counts, tight deadlines, and the need, in general, to get people to go on the record in order to cite them in stories. Manipulators have no such "handicaps." It's probably the most disagreeable aspect of how journalism works.

Anyway, I still have quite a few replies to read.

Thanks,

Mackay

 

[quote=fionnbharr]

When first thinking of how I wished to respond, I thought of a quote by Chomsky [On Power and Ideology]:

One of the most effective devices is to encourage debate, but within a system of unspoken presuppositions that incorporate the basic principle of doctrinal systems. These principles are therefore removed from inspection; they become the framework for thinkable thought, not objects of rationale consideration.

[/quote]

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