Let’s face it, investigative journalism has no place within a mainstream media that has plunged, eyes wide-open, into bed with corporate interests and government agendas. Take the weekly White House lobby, once an event that sent a shudder of apprehension down the backbones of American Presidents. Now the press-corps appear like a pack of over-fed poodles, uncritically repeating orchestrated briefings. Oh for the days of the Washington Post during the ‘Watergate Affair’ when the press still had some teeth and was not afraid to bite big government.
These days corporate media interests, which themselves are subject to behind-the-scenes political and economic factors, impose a number of restrictions upon journalism, nothing must deviate from the prevailing orthodoxy. No independent or critical analysis can flourish under such arid conditions, which may explain why the overwhelming number of news reports seem to reflect an official line.
Corporate Money Controls Media
Look at the recent coverage devoted to so-called ‘Swine-Flu’. Media organisations world-wide, although these are increasingly under the control of a handful of individual corporations, indulged in what can only be described as scare-mongering, deliberately slanting stories that promoted fear and uncertainty. News print and broadcast time was filled with images of pigs, people with masks, daily updates on numbers contracting the virus. Not one seasoned journalist or broadcaster chose to examine this news item in any depth, content to simply repeat governmental, United Nations and Health Department scripts. Had they conducted even the most superficial of research it would have become apparent that this particular virus is not derived entirely from pigs, but appears to be a genetic hybrid of avian, porcine and human elements, a somewhat unique combination.
A Man-Made Virus?
This fact alone would have set-off alarm bells for any genuine investigative reporter, not journalists of the BBC, CBC, Sky, CNN and the rest of ‘world news inc’. Nor did such outlets bother to check on the genuine cause of the death toll in Mexico City, which they eagerly attributed to a flu which has been described more accurately as ‘Pentagon Flu’ (following concerns that this virus may well have had its origins in a military laboratory).
Bio-Weapons Lab-Maryland USA
(Editors Note: Fort Detrick is a 1,200-acre Army-base containing biological laboratories, and communication facilities. Originally a research center for the United States biological weapons program, it’s one of the world’s most important biomedical research centers. One of only two facilities in the USA officially sanctioned to handle the most dangerous biological agents. It has attracted some controversy and was linked to the Anthrax Scare of 2001. In 2008 one of its micobiologists, Bruce Ivins, reportedly committed suicide following FBI investigations)
As the world’s largest city, with a population of over 30 million, that suffers appalling levels of atmospheric pollution, serious health issues caused by overcrowding and poverty, barely addressed by an under-resourced and overwhelmed health-system, did it not cross-the-minds of news editors that the 150/180 deaths, which the public were informed were linked to the flu-virus, may well have other causes?
As evening news bulletins announced, with a barely concealed sense of doom, that the death-toll from this virus had now reached beyond a hundred and fifty, were they unaware that in the USA alone there are some 30, 000 deaths annually from the common flu virus. Such factors did not it appears serve the interests of mainstream media, and one suspects that had any journalist raised such matters they would have received little support from editors whose mission was to generate anxiety.
Mexico City-Home To Slums, 30 Million People and Pollution
When the public demanded well researched facts, independent and objective analysis the global media machine served up hysteria, health propaganda, political agendas, and confusion. Several weeks later and the designed panic has abated somewhat as the virus, now we are informed, is relatively mild and the world will not now be consumed by an invisible yet deadly terror. We can breathe again. However, the health of independent journalism within mainstream-media remains in critical condition, the future is not encouraging for anyone seeking balance, facts and objectivity.
Thankfully the investigative and independently minded muse of journalism has a new home, removed from corporate control, and government corrosion. In a sense it has returned to its origins, more localised and community-based, where news can be reported minus the distorting lens of commercial interests or partisan politics. The expansion of the Internet, along with greater accessibility of computers, the profusion of social network sites, has provided millions with an opportunity to document, photograph and report on their world. This social and communications revolution has proved of immense value to those working in the field of human rights, justice, and democratic activism. Information is power and the ability to communicate globally within a matter of moments, free from the suffocating restraints imposed by mainstream media, has given birth to an alternative and in many cases a more credible source of reportage.
The emergence of the Blog has heralded the most articulate, information rich and diverse platform, that has facilitated a super-novae of expression. In the right journalistic hands it has become a hugely influential tool for exposing previously overlooked issues, while activists use it for news, campaigning or generating awareness of a huge range of subjects. Rather like the pamphleteer movement in 17/18th Century England, which at that time was an equally revolutionary form of political and social expression, the Blog has empowered the individual, returned some form of political control and democracy, and permitted free thought, dissent and democratic discussion.
A Blog 17th Century Style
It has opened up a view into the most oppressive and challenging areas of conflict, offering insights into daily living previously unavailable via mainstream media. The recent assaults upon the people of Gaza being a prime example, while mainstream media was excluded from the scene of destruction and happily tip-toeing around Israeli demands for journalistic ‘objectivity’ and ‘balance’, a number of Palestinians were reporting http://gazatoday.blogspot.com/ upon the carnage being inflicted by Israel. On Burma bloggers http://saveburma.sosblog.com/Burma-political-blog-b1.htm have exposed the suppression and abuse http://bbwob.blogspot.com/2008/02/give-back-nay-phone-latt.html that characterizes life under the military regime.
Within occupied Tibet a number of Tibetans have created Blogs to express their concerns on human rights, the suppression of Tibetan culture and the injustice of Chinese occupation. Most famously perhaps is Woeser http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/search/label/Woeser who despite being exiled to Beijing and placed under house arrest by the communist Chinese authorities continues to report on the situation inside Tibet. Other Tibetans have been arrested too. Kunchok Tsephel http://tibettruth.wordpress.com/urgent-actions/ who administered a Tibetan language and culture website- http://www.tibetcm.com/index.html who was arrested on February 27 2009 at his home in Gannan “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (“TAP”), Gansu Province (Kham, Tibet’s Eastern Region).
Chinese Bloggers Make The Communist Regime Nervous
China has also experienced the blog revolution, with an estimated 300 million people using the Internet, individuals are using blogs to raise voices of dissent, a crime of considerable magnitude under communist China’s totalitarian regime. The Internet and Blogs are now considered to be a genuine threat by authoritarian and some supposedly libertarian governments the world over. They attract increasingly oppressive legal measures aimed at curbing free-speech, and are exposed to constant government interference to suppress critical dissent. We are not surprised therefore to note that communist China is in the vanguard of such measures. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists:
“..Chinese authorities also maintain the world’s most comprehensive online censorship comprehensive online censorship program, one emulated by many other countries. The government relies on service providers to filter searches, block critical Web sites, delete objectionable content, and monitor e-mail traffic. Because China’s traditional press is tightly controlled, bloggers often break news and provide provocative commentary. Blogs, for example, played prominent roles in spreading news and information about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. But bloggers who go too far in promoting unpopular views or reporting sensitive information can find themselves in jail. At least 24 online writers are now in prison..”. See: http://cpj.org/reports/2008/06/9-2.php
Despite such censorship the digital genii is now out-of-the-lamp offering an invaluable resource fort those who suffer human rights violations, cultural suppression and illegal occupation. There is no return and voices of dissent are increasing.