Monday, July 16, 2012
Every second day in the mainstream media, some corporate media poohbah or IPA lackey comes swinging through the 24/7 news cycle to holler about the virtues of a press that stands up for the rights of the little guy and guyette by speaking "truth to power".
It is indeed heart warming how all these arch capitalists are willing to take time out of their busy schedule of editorialising about cutting workers' pay and conditions, defending tobacco companies against the 'nanny state' or promoting unregulated gambling to stand up for the powerless.
But what's interesting is the close correlation between the mainstream media's concept of "freedom" and the commercial interests of those who pay their bills - their clients, the advertisers. It's why the television networks recently refused to air an ad from activist group GetUp that highlighted the reliance of the major grocery chains on substantial revenue from the pokies.
Consider this: Of the nation's top 25 advertisers in 2010, Woolworths, Wesfarmers (owners of Coles) and Harvey Norman were the biggest spenders. So it seems that the media's pious defence of "freedom" of expression stops at the point their own revenues become threatened.
Or look at the so-called 'Big Switch' campaign, analysed recently by Media Watch, in which the media grandstands about 'supporting our readers' to get discounted power bills, while promoting the commercial interests of people harvesting consumers' private details and earning commissions.
Interestingly, when a genuine threat to personal freedom emerges - as in the bid by our over-zealous security agencies to get access to individuals' internet history and Facebook accounts - the chest-beating press barons go strangely quiet. It seems privacy comes second to the preferred narrative of keeping the population fearful of 'the other'.
At the heart of all this self-glorification and myth-making, once again, is the decreasing relevance of the media and its desperate attempts to get noticed in a climate where people have other choices in their information sources. So the more marginal establish media becomes, they more pompously they pontificate about their inflated role as the Voice of the People.
But is it too much to ask media executives just to reflect for a moment and ask themselves a couple of simple questions. If they are so in the corner of the little powerless people, why is public trust in the Australian media among the worst in the world? If they are such effective advocates for the voiceless, why are fewer and fewer people buying their product? And why does their concept of freedom bear such a striking resemblance to their commercial interests?
Any takers? Man without a shirt:
Posted by Mr D at 10:39 PM