News media; not just biased, but bad at their jobs
I don’t know what confluence of planets has caused me to notice this at the present time, but the media are really, really bad at their jobs. I’m signed up to a number of RSS feeds, from the BBC and Sky onwards. I read the Guardian and the Times if not daily then every other day. And yet there are an enormous amount of stories which are of huge importance but which are receiving minimal coverage, for some reason.
Now obviously I don’t have to mention the Disaster Emergency Committee’s appeal for aid in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the BBC’s refusal to pick it up. However last month, the papers offered very poor coverage of situations unfolding in Greece and elsewhere, where stand-offs were developing between workers and the government. Indeed the collapse of the Icelandic government seemed to come out of nowhere for most of the mainstream media.
More recently, the coverage of the demand for a General Strike by some of the biggest trade unions in France has been pathetic. The existence of a movement that has effectively rendered Sarkozy a lame duck, through his general unpopularity and the increasing number of mass protests and strikes, has been virtually ignored. Reading the BBC coverage of the one-day stoppage taking place today, it’s pretty apparent that news-gathering is far down on the list of priorities.
Instead, AFP have provided half the coverage and the BBC has rehashed it. Do they even note the call by CGT, CFDT, FOR, FSU, CFE-CGC, CFTC, UNSA and SOLIDARY for a General Strike? Nope.
On local issues as well, the major news agencies have been pretty pathetic. Did anyone else notice the campaign ongoing against EDO-MBM, the arms manufacturer? In Sussex, a group of people broke into the offices to destroy equipment and disable the manufacturing of weapons which were being sold to Israel. The cost was estimated at some £250,000, or ten Hellfire missiles. And this is one of several such instances, such as a previous break-in at a Raytheon plant.
Agree or disagree with the actions, it’s important and news worthy. It demonstrates that there are people out there angry enough at the selling of weapons to Israel, permitted by the government, that they are prepared to violate the law.
Or there is the case of Manchester police seizing a server from Indymedia. Some commenter posted the address of a judge in the case of animal rights nutters, and the police wanted the IP address. However Indymedia doesn’t log IP addresses; they removed the comment in compliance with their site guidelines but in not logging IP addresses, they’re in breach of an EU Directive on data retention. Again this looks like an important story.
The police seized a server to get at someone who made comments, and according to the EU, what you say on the internet should be traceable by authorities. It wasn’t this time, and the EU Directive has not yet been tested in a UK court. All of this has ramifications for the constriction of what individuals can do online. As does the story about Irish ISP Eirecom having to settle out of court with the music industry and take measures to prevent P2P file transfers of copyright material.
Occupations by students across the country – in King’s College, SOAS and LSE in London, Oxford, Essex, Leeds, Manchester Met, Nottingham, Sussex and Newcastle – were a little better reported but still not headline news. These, our children, are standing up to declare that they care, that the narrative about depoliticisation is not true, and the media (where it is mentioned at all) bury it on inside pages. Interestingly, the blogosphere delivered much better stories than the MSM.
And the UK isn’t the only country that has been happening in either!
Each of these stories are one more reason why a concerted effort by the Left to publish grassroots stories and get the information out there is so necessary. This is why you should be involved with the Left New Media Forum, which will soon look something like this.