Neoliberalism is a toxic economic dogma that has serious social and political consequences. In Britain and the US, mainstream media have a long record of selling neoliberalism to the public and political lawmakers. Recall Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s slogan, “There is no alternative” (TINA). As I document in my new book, Real Fake News (Red Pill Press), elites throughout history have always used information to control the thoughts and actions of the public. But the modern project has stretched itself to the limit, and people are starting to say No.
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 problem with outsourcing your opinion to ‘trusted news organisations’ is that no journalist or publication is right 100% of the time. Media literacy is more important than ever – especially when once trusted news outlets have long since worn out their ‘benefit-of-the-doubt’ card.
Almost half of the UK’s combined print and online press is owned by just two billionaires – which confirms renowned American journalist, A J Liebling’s adage that “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” We ask what this has meant for the recent coverage of local elections.
It speaks volumes about the limitations of our democracy that a small group of academics and journalists are being attacked by the BBC and Times, simply for doing their job. Do their respective smear campaigns show us the limits of what we are now allowed to question?