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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the media: a freedom to lie « Previous | |Next »
November 30, 2011

It is obvious that the media consists of both a serious press that operates, broadly, in the public interest and a popular press with an agenda that is based around human interest (celebrity) or infotainment. Broadsheet and tabloid is the name we often used to describe this difference, and the standard case for ensuring press freedom usually refers to the serious press (liberal) whilst regulation refers to the curbing of the "toxic", bullying culture of the popular tabloid press (conservative). Yet press freedom also refers to the regulation-free, market-driven, anything-goes tabloid morality.

This distinction does not just apply to the press though. The same distinctions can be, and are, made about television--eg., the ABC and Channel 9's celebrity gossip come to mind. What often drives, and reinforces, the difference is the need to attract as many readers as possible to secure advertising----the commercial imperative to maximise sales with cheap content so as to make a profit.

So it is economically logical for the tabloid hacks in the press and television to produce stories that are often inaccurate, sensationalist and plagiarised. These are not motivated by truth seeking, a desire for accuracy, or a concern for democracy.

Yet the press is allowed to be self-regulated whilst TV is regulated, even though it is widely known that the press has little interest in self-regulation. Self-regulation by the Press Council was designed with the interests of the newspapers in mind.

The media, when they defend self-regulation in absolute terms of the checks and balances against untrammelled state authority, say little about the media's accountability; how people can get remedy for the smears, lies, abuse and intimidate by the feral beasts; or even the concentration of media ownership.

The distinction between a serious press that operates, broadly, in the public interest and a popular press are too black and white . Reporters rewrite press releases, churn the publicity industry's spin and are compliant to authority to ensure continued access. Their conception of press freedom is a freedom to lie and conception of the public interest is little no more than the sheer number of copies they can sell.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:17 PM | | Comments (5)


I like that analogy. The freedom of the press is the freedom to lie. Sums it up.
I dont think it will change because those that care will remain a minority. Infotainment is where its at. Wikileaks is a good example. Once they ran out of sensationalised truth the people got bored and stopped sending money.
The good thing still remains with the rag media is that you can still get your favourite one on saturday for 2 bucks and you only have to read the parts you beleive. The bits you dont like get the pages turned. Cheap entertainment.

I'm sorry that I seem to be going off in tangents frequently but this is sorta media related and definitely worth a giggle.
From Peter Martin:

"The two Perth accountants who costed the Coalition’s 2010 election policies breached professional standards and will be fined, a disciplinary tribunal has ruled.

The ruling is an embarrassment to the Coalition which claimed during the campaign the costing was “as good as you could get anywhere in the country, including in Treasury." In recent months it has threatened to use private accountants once again..........In fact the document was the result of a carefully-worded agreement between the accountants and the Coalition to produce work primarily "not of an audit nature".

He [Martin] has an article in the Age so it has received some attention but Fran and Michelle on ABC Brekky this morning skipped obver the issue with undue haste.

for the tabloid media the only reliable indicator is sales figures. This allows them to endorse corporate power, to attack the liberal state and to continue to shape the public interest to their own ends.

The rhetoric to defend Murdoch's media monopoly is press freedom.

Murdoch is too big to take on.

It is routine for the media's "journalists" to invent quotes and make up stories . those who refuse to accept the media's power are attacked and undermined.

Why would you want to defend that kind of press freedom?