Blog Archives

Media 88: mainstream silent as the Church of England fails to bless the bomb

Survivors of the Nagasaki bomb walk through the destruction as fire rages in the background.

The third clause in the Bishop of Chelmsford’s motion at the General Synod Debate on the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons:

(c) commit the Church of England to work with its Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners in addressing the regional and international security concerns which drive nations to possess and seek nuclear weapons and to work towards achieving a genuine peace through their elimination.

It was passed 260 for, 26 against, 21 abstentions.

The first six pages of an online search found no reference to this decision in any member of the mainstream media (MSM) secular press. Only one entry – from the Defence Journal – recorded the event.

Will MSM cloak today’s Anglican news with silence?

Political damage is being done by social media’s highlighting of the austerity-excused trials and deprivations of the poorest and most disabled. Today it has been announced that the church is now reaching out ‘primarily to people under 40-years-of-age who have no current connection with a church’ – on pioneering café-style premises in in coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates.

Threatening? If the basic tenets of Christianity are taken to heart, enormous damage will be done to the sales of:

  • armaments,
  • pornography
  • illegal drugs,
  • junk food,
  • many TV programmes,
  • gambling offers
  • and some sections of the film industry.

And the legal profession’s earnings will slump.

President and former General Eisenhower would have approved of the Synod’s decision. He said : “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together” (farewell address)






Media 80: election result confirms waning influence of corporate media

Readers from other countries (left) who found the Media 79 article of interest are directed – for a fuller account – to a detailed article in Media Lens discovered after this post was written. As George Monbiot writes:

“The billionaire press threw everything it had at Jeremy Corbyn, and failed to knock him over. In doing so, it broke its own power.

Its wild claims succeeded in destroying not Corbyn’s credibility, but its own. But the problem is by no means confined to the corporate media. The failure also belongs to the liberal media, and it is one from which some platforms might struggle to recover . . .

He adds that broadcasters allow themselves to be led by the newspapers, despite their massive bias, citing the 2015 election campaign, during which opinion polls revealed that the NHS came top of the list of voters’ concerns, while the economy came third – but received four times as much coverage on TV news as the NHS, which was commonly seen as Labour’s strongest suit: “This appeared to reflect the weight given to these issues in the papers, most of which sought a Conservative victory”.

Monbiot records that an analysis by the Media Reform Coalition and Birkbeck College found that, despite the rules on impartiality and balance, when Corbyn’s leadership was being challenged last summer, the BBC’s evening news bulletins gave almost twice as much airtime to his critics as they gave to his supporters. They often ascribed militancy and aggression to him and his supporters, but never to his challengers and quoted one report on the BBC News at 6 which finished with the words,

“This is a fight only one side can win. The others are being carted off to irrelevance. The place for political losers”. The accompanying shot showed a dustbin lorry setting off, painted with the word Corbyn”.

Suzanne Moore also looks at the futile attempts of these tabloids to ‘crush Corbyn’ in the Guardian but in a slightly less crude way the Times and the FT also devoted much space to this end (see the Rachman FT article and cartoon, below) – and signally failed to achieve their objective.

Many ‘ordinary’ people have suspected that social media has been becoming far more influential – Suzanne observing that: “the hope of so many on social media and the tirelessness of those out campaigning contrasted with the stunned, sometimes agonised coverage of the old men who govern the airwaves”.

After detailing the evidence of bias in the Guardian George Monbiot concludes that the liberal media have managed to alienate the most dynamic political force this nation has seen for decades:

“Those who have thrown so much energy into the great political revival, many of whom are young, have been almost unrepresented, their concerns and passion unheeded, misunderstood or reviled. When they have raised complaints, journalists have often reacted angrily, writing off movements that have gathered in hope as a rabble of trots and wreckers. This response has been catastrophic in the age of social media. What many people in this movement now perceive is a solid block of affluent middle-aged journalists instructing young people mired in rent and debt to abandon their hopes of a better world”.

Monbiot asks why it has come to this, even in the media not owned by billionaires – apparently not taking into account that retaining the lucrative corporate advertisements is of crucial importance to    newspapers. He points to the selection of its entrants from a small, highly educated pool of people adding “Whatever their professed beliefs, they tend to be inexorably drawn towards their class interests”.

He ends “We need to interrogate every item of the news agenda and the way in which it is framed” and we enlist his support for Media Lens, which is doing exactly that”. 









Media 55: make the content substantiate the title and subtitles, Rosa: ‘must do better’

Hopefully a far better food writer and cook than journalist, Rosa Prince worked as a chef and cook in the Notting Hill specialist bookshop, Books for Cooks with Clarissa Dixon Wright and was the in-house cook at the Spectator magazine for seven years.

Were the captions a hamfisted editorial decision? After reading her Times sub-title, “Online activism is a powerful weapon for Labour’s leader but too often it’s a hate-filled echo chamber for the like-minded”, readers will have expected unpleasant examples of ‘hate-filled’ speech. Not so, the succeeding passages were bland and innocuous.

JC standingDoes the Times really expect its readers to receive the titles without examining the substance? Do they have such a low opinion of them – even though ‘Comrade Corbyn’, a book Ms Prince put together, is now reaching the second hand market on offer at half price.

At 8pm on Monday, Rosa reports: “a few thousand Jeremy Corbyn supporters sat at their computers or took to their phones to share personal, often moving, accounts of care they had received from junior doctors. By midnight, the Twitter hashtag #theyarethedoctors had been used more than 20,000 times and was ‘trending’ “.

Wistfully recalling the days when highly motivated leftwingers made banners or went on marches, she rues that now: “these were taking part in a “Twitter storm”, bombarding the internet with 140-character soundbites in a form of megaphone diplomacy”.

A reluctant compliment followed: “For an old-fashioned lefty a few months shy of his 67th birthday, Jeremy Corbyn is surprisingly adept at this internet thing — and so far it has served him very well”.

Rosa Prince expresses the belief – and no doubt her employers’ hope – that online activism has become an end in itself:

“For 40 years, it was enough for Corbyn to attend the meetings, to shout the slogans and to wave the placards. Even his greatest achievement to date, as one of the convenors of the Stop the War movement, to mobilise millions of people from all corners of the world in opposition to the war in Iraq, was ultimately a failure. When it came to it, the only people who mattered were the two sitting in 10 Downing Street and the White House”.

Does the Times article headline: “Social media monster could devour Corbyn”, reflect not only a desire to see Jeremy Corbyn to retreat into obscurity, but also her employer’s impotent anger at the loss of readership, advertising revenue and influence posed by social media?

Rosa’s advice: “ To get there, it’s not enough to tweet to the converted — you must persuade people to get out of their armchairs and go and vote for you”.

Will this challenge be met by ‘armchair’ users?

The loyalists of power

 Monbiot article ends:

Those entrusted to challenge power are the loyalists of power.

They rage against the social media and people like Russell Brand, without seeing that the popularity of alternatives is a response to their own failures:

  • their failure to expose the claims of the haut monde,
  • their failure to enlist a diversity of opinion,
  • their failure to permit the audience to see that another world is possible.

If even the public sector broadcasters parrot the talking points of the elite, what hope is there for informed democratic choice?

Prophet with track record: anti-establishment anger in the western world

Gillian Tett, Financial Times capital markets editor at the time, warned about the state of the credit markets for at least a year before the crisis; she was one of the few who predicted the 2008 economic catastrophe.

gillian tettNow U.S. managing editor of the FT, she writes:

“Anti-establishment anger is bubbling up elsewhere in the western world”. She sees a rejection of mainstream parties and the ‘organs of politics’ in America.

What explains this malaise? Tett points only to the rise of the internet and social media:

“Back in the days of President Kennedy, the only way that most people could hope to participate in political change or make their views known was via a political party or demonstration.

Today, people can express ideas at any time via social media. “In some ways, this creates a very engaged and noisy society; protests are spreading like wildfire, as cyber “flash mobs” congregate over all manner of issues”.

american hubris2She does not even hint at the roots of anger and disgust at the fruits of western (aka Anglo-Saxon) politics:

  • crony capitalism with its revolving door’
  • rising economic inequality;
  • healthcare, transport, water, fuel and energy privatised for profit not service’;
  • taxpayers money spent on armaments;
  • the shame of drones illegally killing civilians and ‘targets’ in other countries;
  • the young sent to wage wars of benefit only to arms manufacturers and other vested interests;
  • pollution and destruction of the environment for profit;
  • wilful ignoring the long-term consequences of all these actions.

Does Gillian Tett underestimate ‘the people’:

“[T]he problem with this engagement is that it tends to be short term, volatile and based around single issues. It is hard to turn cyber flash mobs into a party campaign”. She correctly adds: reversing this tide of antipathy . . . will take more than a new election (or two) or social media posts”.

What effective course of remedial action can anti-establishment anger take?