Reclaim the media

March 7, 2009

Today, the world is littered with crises. From the economic meltdown to the threat to life posed by climate change, the world is in real trouble.

Although, thanks to the new technologies, people in the global North are consuming more news than ever before, the corporate media system still maintains control over what most people see and read on an everyday basis.

In today's frenzied world, our ability to know what is happening and act on it is often determined by the information we are fed by the corporate media.

The multinational media corporations are some of the most profitable companies on Earth. Like any other corporation, the primary aim is not to provide information but to make money.

Driven by the goal of securing quick dollars, the corporate media largely acts as a pacifying, right-wing and conservative force in our society.

The media claims to promote professionalism and objectivity — but in practice it acts to distort debates and promotes "infotainment" over ethical or social consciousness.

In particular, the corporate media is responsible for covering-up some of the greatest crimes of our age. Cases of environmental vandalism, corporate greed and mass genocide have all been carried out without condemnation from supposedly "objective" journalists employed by the likes of Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax.

For example, today in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainstream journalists are often hidden away from the real stories, "embedded" with occupying Western troops.

No one who willingly acts as a mouthpiece for a military public relations machine deserves the name of journalist.

It is only when mass movements have challenged the status quo that change in society is possible. This includes breaking the media monopoly.

For example, the appalling coverage of the war in Iraq has sparked a growing media reform movement in the US. Trade unionists, ethnic minorities and other social movement activists have joined in this movement. Several prominent mainstream journalists have even "crossed the lines" to join the cause.

Venezuela's socialist revolution has sparked a substantial grassroots movement for a people's media. The documentary The Revolution Will Not be Televised shows how in 2002 the corporate media helped engineer a military coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez.

The coup attempt was thwarted by a mass people's insurrection and Chavez was reinstalled as Venezuela's president. In response to the mass media's lies a network of community-organised radio, television and print media projects has sprung up around the country. The government has given support and funding to these initiatives. Venezuelans are striving to build their own democratic media as an alternative to the discredited corporate media model.

As far as the capitalist system is concerned, the mass media is more than just a money making venture. It serves to discourage alternative viewpoints and real debate. The media seeks to reshape the world in its own image — profit-motivated, top-down and monotonous.

In Australia, where the mass media is the most heavily monopolised in the Western world, Green Left Weekly stands as a proudly socialist voice committed to human rights, full equality, an end to war and racism and a safe climate future.

Through exposing the lies and distortions of the powerful, and by opening up avenues of debate normally shut out of the mainstream press, we aim to not only promote an alternative media but also to build social movements for wider social change.

Confronting the huge power of the media tycoons is not an easy task. Yet it is an urgently necessary one. GLW relies on the support of its readership to write for it, finance it and distribute it on street corners and university campuses across the country.

So if you believe another world is possible, and want to be part of the socialist solution to the hunger, misery and pollution capitalism creates, then get involved!

[See the advertisement on page two for details of the Resistance Centre in your city or visit <>.]

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