Britain's press is controlled by the same networks of people as run everything else. Is it really free? While most of us don't trust journalists , many of us are still under the illusion that we have a free and independent press.
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Who owns the media shapes what stories are covered and how they are written about. Lives in France. Tax avoider. Lives in US. Lives in UK. Live on private island under the jurisdiction of the tax haven Sark. Alexander is a billionaire or close to it, ex-KGB and lives in Russia. His son, Evgeny lives in UK. Table adapted from blog by Tom London. Financial Times data from their website is PwC assured from November and is based on daily readership as weekly figures not public nor recorded by the NRS.
The owners can — and do — interfere with what is published in their publications, which editors and journalists are promoted or fired as well as which political parties the paper supports. For example, Harold Evans, a former editor at the Sunday Times, made it very clear to the Leveson Inquiry how Rupert Murdoch interfered with the content of the paper. He sent for the elderly and academic Mr Hickey, who went in tremulously, to be told by Mr Murdoch, "Your leaders are too long, too complex. You should be attacking the Russians more. David Yelland, a former editor of The Sun — another Murdoch owned paper — admitted in an interview :.
Most Murdoch editors wake up in the morning, switch on the radio, hear that something has happened and think: what would Rupert think about this? It's like a mantra inside your head, it's like a prism. You look at the world through Rupert's eyes. Even The Guardian is compromised, although not as much as other national media companies. The Scott Trust Limited , which owns The Guardian, is wholly owned by the company directors who are prohibited from taking any dividends. The Guardian also claims to be guided by a range of progressive values , including the task of maintaining its editorial independence.
With six billionaires as majority voting shareholders for most of the UK national newspapers, it is unsurprising that they mostly supported the Conservatives in the last general election. The Conservatives reduced the top tax rate, and want to reduce it further, giving millionaires and billionaires massive tax breaks. Under the current media ownership structure, how much hope is there of genuine progressive agendas to reduce wealth, income and power inequality that also threatens the interests of the billionaires and companies that own the press? Just how much varies for different media outlets.
Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator at The Telegraph , resigned from his job after he was censored from writing about HSBC because it was one of the paper's major corporate advertisers. He wrote in openDemocracy:. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is 'the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend. It has been placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers. There is only one word to describe this situation: terrible. This situation is not exclusive to the Telegraph.
As Nafeez Ahmed points out :. If writing something disagreeable about HSBC or animal rights is problematic, imagine editors consistently presenting corporate domination as a threat to human survival in an age of climate change. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman give many more examples of this here.
How often do we read articles in newspapers critiquing capitalism, let alone corporate capitalism?
Just think what else is excluded from the press because it would seriously challenge corporate advertisers. There are different studies showing the dominance of a private-school and Oxbridge educated elite at the top of UK journalism, and the trend has been getting worse. The recent Social Mobility and Child Poverty study found out that nearly half of UK national newspaper columnists graduated from Oxford or Cambridge as opposed to less than 1 per cent of the population and that 54 per cent of the nation's "top media professionals" attended private schools compared to around 7 per cent of the population.
This creates an upper middle-class worldview in much of the media — as well as in many other professions — which is divorced from the wants and needs of large parts of the population. Most media commentators including me do. For people like me, the country basically works. Politics doesn't affect me. Politics, for me, is about how other people are treated. It's easy inside my echo-chamber to believe that I am the norm, or the middle. Easy to forget that there are voices outside.
But to my friends and family, who live outside the bubble, it's not regrettable, it's terrifying. It's also not pragmatic. The crackpot, gimcrack ideological nature of austerity becomes more apparent the closer you get to the point of delivery. Mark Mardell, a privately educated journalist, echoed a similar but tamer view for the BBC :. None is on the minimum wage, let alone tax credits, nor are any, to my knowledge, owners of third homes on the Cayman Islands, or running big corporations. They are nearly all university educated and live in London or the South East of England Yes, all that goes for me, too.
There is group-think in the muddled middle, a fear of thinking outside a comfortable box. It is not just private and Oxbridge education which dominates the media.
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Women are also heavily under-represented, both in journalists employed but also in the amount of coverage received. Research on the UK media by Professor Lis Howell found that between April and September the number of male experts interviewed on flagship news programmes outnumbered female experts by 3.
In previous research, Prof Howell also found ten times as many UK male politicians featured on the news as female politicians. Research by Women in Journalism and others in also found that men dominated news stories in a wide range of ways, such as front page stories being about or written by men around 80 per cent of the time. How many have strong links with working class communities? How many of these influential journalists have been long-term unemployed, on low incomes, on benefits or tax credits, with long-term health conditions or have faced racism or sexism?
The sources which are used by journalists and the range of debate published within the UK media can show us another way in which the corporate media is deeply compromised.
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There have been academic studies proving that systemic bias exists in how the media covers events. Three events can be used as examples — the Scottish referendum, the financial crisis and the second Iraq war. Professor John Robertson summarising his research and the different ways the media was biased against Scottish independence. As Professor Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland UWS has outlined , anti-independence statements were aired over pro-independence statements at a ratio of around on most channels.
So glad I'm out of there. Other studies of the media have found similar results of bias in relation to the financial crisis.
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Dr Mike Berry, of Cardiff University, authored such a study — The Today programme and the banking crisis not open access. These numbers are even likely to be skewed. This is magnified by the presence of other groups such as business lobbyists, neoclassical economists and journalists from the financial press who all tend to share a similar laissez-faire outlook on how the economy should be managed.
Organised labour is almost completely absent from the Today programme with only a single appearance from one union leader 0. Considering the impact of the financial crisis on the UK workforce, and that trade unions represent the largest mass democratic organisations in civil society, such invisibility shows the BBC is not truly committed to impartial and balanced coverage. As Mike Berry points out in The Conversation , opinion of the financial crisis:. Civil society voices or commentators who questioned the benefits of having such a large finance sector were almost completely absent from coverage.
The fact that the City financiers who had caused the crisis were given almost monopoly status to frame debate again demonstrates the prominence of pro-business perspectives. The choice of sources used not only influences whether countries become independent, or how financial sectors are regulated or nationalised, but whether they go to war or not.
The practice of uncritically using anonymous government sources is often used to justify war and state oppression, as Glenn Greenwald points out in The Intercept :. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major U. Greenwald goes on to say of an article in the Sunday Times, which was used to smear whistleblower Edward Snowden:. It gives voice to banal but inflammatory accusations that are made about every whistleblower from Daniel Ellsberg to Chelsea Manning.
From a totalitarian viewpoint the advantage of abbreviations like these is that their meaning is limited and altered so that all associations are removed. The purpose of Newspeak is not only to be a medium for the ideas and worldview of Ingsoc; it is also meant to make all other ways of thinking impossible and thus remove all heretical thoughts. In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.
Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
At a point Winston writes in his diary that he understands how but not why. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. The individual only has power if he ceases to be an individual. Alone and free man will always suffer defeat. It has to be this way because man is mortal. But if the individual can subject himself completely, if he can escape from his identity, if he can let himself be engulfed so much by the Party that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. Next, you have to realise that power is power over people, over the body and especially over the mind.
The Thought Police have telescreens in every household and public area, as well as hidden microphones and spies in order to catch potential thought criminals who could endanger the sanctity of the Party. Children were carefully brainwashed from birth to report any suspected thought criminal, even their parents. Newspeak is a fictional or artificial language. By means of the creation of this newspeak, what they want to achieve is a language that does not allow any bad though or even contrary to the Party.
By eliminating any thought contrary to the Party they make sure that they all love it and cannot destroy it. The Newspeak term for the existing English language was Oldspeak. Oldspeak was supposed to have been completely eclipsed by Newspeak by Towards the end of this essay, having argued his case, Orwell muses:. I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions.
Thus Newspeak is possibly an attempt by Orwell to describe a deliberate intent to exploit this decadence with the aim of oppressing its speakers. A comparison to Newspeak may arguably be seen in political rhetoric, where two opposing sides string together phrases so empty of meaning that they may be compared to the taunts young children toss back and forth. Others believe that expunging terms that have fallen out of favour or become insulting will make people less likely to hold outdated or offensive views.
The intent to alter the minds of the public through changes made to language illustrates Newspeak perfectly.