George Orwell famously said journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations. In a world festooned with PR exercises and reputation management, was Mr Orwell overly cynical, or was he well ahead of his time? With print media’s business model in free fall, newspaper proprietors are increasingly desperate to find ways to ensure financial viability. The problem with this approach is that corporate interests can and often do trump the interests of readers. Joining us to discuss how free the UK press really is are the lecturer in journalism and media studies at Birkbeck College, Justin Schlosberg, and the editor of Open Media at openDemocracy, James Cusick.
The Big Four tech giants control most of the world’s information flow, drug and food supply. Google and Facebook tried to manipulate the recent presidential election by prioritising, and sometimes burying content altogether. Throughout the history of human civilisation, including periods of ecclesiastical rule, no entity has had as much power to influence and control the social and political ideals of billions of people with zero oversight or regulation as these tech giants. Democracy’s only hope is for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter to be broken up and regulated.
Our problems will not be solved by the victory of one party over another, or of one ‘ism’ over another. Changing lawmakers from ‘conservatives’ to ‘liberals’ or ‘liberals’ to ‘socialists’, without reforming how the laws are made is like asking the orchestra to play a happy tune whilst the ship goes down, writes Mark GB. Our problems arise from the centralisation of power and money in the hands of unaccountable vested interests. We need fundamental reform of the political and monetary system itself.
The public service has been made a mockery. Neoliberal ideology now competes with the laws of Parliament. The rule of law is compromised. Every part of the state has become subject to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology, usurping even classical economics where work was an element of demand, to the extent there was respect for workers. Neoliberalism is a form of economism that strikes at every moment and every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.