I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about school curriculum that somehow came around to the news. She mentioned that she doesn’t really pay any attention to news, and with an apologetic look, she said she doesn’t even listen to NPR. As if I would think less of her for that. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to say, “don’t bother.” Why? Because the big network news outlets are owned by a very few and controlled by their advertisers’ and owners’ interests. And because the so-called public NPR has a long list of corporate sponsors who have strong financial interests in suppressing information.
With Dow Chemical on that list, I don’t expect to see a whole lot of investigative reporting on the effects of pesticide use in agriculture is having on our health, and our planet. With GlaxoSmithKline on that list, I don’t expect to see a lot of investigative reports on pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or alternative medicine. With General Dynamics on the list, I don’t expect too much questioning of drone warfare. You get the idea.
I used to be a dedicated NPR listener. I never bothered to look into their funding, and like many people I know, I thought NPR was the definition of alternative media. I respected the reporters and commentators, I trusted the information. But as my questions grew, and theirs did not, I began to realize that, no matter how one feels about the political bias that exists in the mainstream media outlets, it is often the lack of reporting that is most ominous. Amidst all the left/right squabbling and loud corporate advertising, there is a deafening silence on crimes the US government and its mega and military corporation cronies are committing here and around the world. There is no accountability as the media carefully avoids biting the hands that feed it.
Margaret Kimberly says it well while discussing the media’s treatment of the situation in Syria.
The degree to which the American corporate media will cover up for American foreign policy atrocities knows no bounds. The country’s leading newspapers and broadcasters have supported every official lie from Lyndon Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin resolution in Vietnam to George W. Bush’s claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
A good example is how we were led to believe Iraq was involved in the attacks of 9/11, and subsequently led into the Iraq war. I found the media’s all-to-successful selling of the Iraq invasion disturbing in 2003. As this truthout.org article describes:
In the days and weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, corporate media – and even NPR and PBS – were abuzz with the talking points of the Bush Administration, echoing claims that Iraq had its hands on “yellow cake uranium” and that it had a massive arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction.”
Thanks to the media’s repeated claims that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were immediate threats to our nation, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, nearly three-quarters of Americans believed the lie promoted by Donald Rumsfeld that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the attacks of 9/11.
Even more disturbing to me is the lack of accountability for those lies, lies that have led to years of war and the loss of countless lives since 2003. They peddle the lies, and maybe sometimes they have to say, “oops,” but they are never held responsible for the results. They just distract us with gossip and move on to the next lie. And unfortunately, the lies and distractions work to manipulate the masses. In an article about the writings of Thomas Paine and how the media suppresses such ideas today, Stephen Lendman has this to say:
Today in the US, the major media are nothing short of a national thought-control police. They’re owned or controlled by dominant large corporations (the kind Noam Chomsky calls “private tyrannies”) grown increasingly concentrated over time and having a stranglehold over the kinds of information reaching the public. It’s given them and the interests they represent the power to destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy now on life support in large measure because of how effective they are.
Uruguayan author and historian Eduardo Galeano cites a large part of the problem saying: “I am astonished….by the ignorance of the (US) population, which knows almost nothing about….the world. It’s quite blind and deaf to anything….outside the frontiers of the US.” They know little inside it as well, and of course, that’s the whole idea to maintaining control. Misinform, distract, and control all ideas and thoughts reaching the public – it’s the key to “keeping the rabble in line.” If done well, it works better than all the might of the most powerful nation on earth.
He’s right. The power of persuasion through disinformation, misinformation, manipulation, distraction, is remarkably effective at keeping us in line. Here is an educational read about how media is used to ‘divide and conquer’ activist groups in which Steve Horn describes a long established method by governments and corporations to silence dissent:
[It is a]…three-step strategy to “deal with” these four activist subtypes. First, isolate the radicals. Second, “cultivate” the idealists and “educate” them into becoming realists. And finally, co-opt the realists into agreeing with industry.
Or, co-opt them into agreeing with the next war, the next miracle cure, the next great federal policy that will help us all… (That article is a two-part series, and both are worth the read.)
There are so many examples of lies, distortions, omissions, in the history of our media, I don’t have time to get into them all. Just do some reading, Wikipedia’s page on Operation Mockingbird is a good place to start, if you’ve never heard of that before. And check out this video of a speech by Sharyl Attkisson. The truth is, we the people no longer matter to the media, like our corrupt government, they no longer listen to us. As Sibel Edmonds says in this video:
The mainstream media, they have made people, us, we the people, irrelevant, we are not even in the equation…”
Even the highly regarded, trusted, ‘public’ media is not as public as we have long believed. Just take a look at the pie chart showing NPR’s funding. Sure, ‘Individuals’ make up the largest slice, but if you combine the other slices, slices that have more power than individuals, they far outnumber and overpower the voices of the individuals. And what of NPR’s public sources for its reporting? This article about a 1993 study of just how ‘public’ public radio is points out:
Journalists by themselves accounted for 7 percent of all NPR sources. For a public radio service intended to provide an independent alternative to corporate-owned and commercially driven mainstream media, NPR is surprisingly reliant on mainstream journalists. At least 83 percent of journalists appearing on NPR in June 2003 were employed by commercial U.S. media outlets, many at outlets famous for influencing newsroom agendas throughout the country (16 from the New York Times alone, and another seven from the Washington Post). Only five sources came from independent news outlets like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the National Catholic Reporter.
So, what are we to do? How can we regain our voices, and take back the control of our news and information? Well, I mentioned at the beginning of the year a new media project that I am excited about, and I’m happy to introduce it properly now. Its called Newsbud, a brand new, exciting alternative to the corporate sponsored lies and propaganda.
Solely people-funded media means no corporate advertisement gunk. It means no marketing gimmicks imbedded in the information presented. It means no strings attached to billionaire sugar daddies– be it Soros, Koch, Rockefellers or Carnegies. It means a media outlet only accountable to you-to we the people. This means integrity. It means ethical and agenda-free journalism. It means making we the people relevant, and taking the 0.0001% out of the equation, thus making them irrelevant. And most importantly, it means that it is up to you and me, up to us the people, to do what it takes to create NEWSBUD-Where Media Integrity Matters.
It’s financed by the viewers, and readers, supported by the viewers and readers, so it is basically YOU, all of you, who are going to decide if we live or if we die.”
We are going to focus on things that really matter, we are going to continue to honor whistleblowers, and expose government corruption, and conflicts of interest, and outright fraud.
It is an opportunity to talk about how those corruptions and conflicts of interest effect us, the people of this country, and the world, on the ground, in our daily lives. War, poverty, education, medicine, equality, our food, all of these things effect us every day, and we need the true facts about them.
Also, Newsbud presents an opportunity to high light positive changes people are making. Large or small. And to find ways to help support those positive changes. This is something that is truly important to me as I seek ways to make changes within my own community and the world.
Newsbud will give the audience a voice too, to have some say in what is covered. Just think about the possibilities! Together, we can nullify the corporate media, we can make them of no value or consequence. We can make ourselves, we the people, relevant again in the media.
Newsbud will be launching a crowd-funding operation on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016, in order to generate the funds needed to get started. [Update! New Kickstarter campaign is launching on Sunday, May 8th, 2016!] It will be an all-or-nothing campaign, either the money is raised and Newsbud will become a reality, or, if it falls short of the goal, the money that is raised will be returned in full to those who contribute. Its an ambitious plan, and we need help. Please join in the conversation, spread the word, lets make this a reality!
If you want to learn more about Newsbud, please go to this information page about it on Boiling Frogs Post, and please sign up for the email list. Your personal information will not be shared, at all, and you will receive updates and more information as the crowd funding campaign approaches. Click the link below to go directly to the email sign up page.
Bom-Bom, rock the nation
Take over television and radio station
Bom-Bom the truth shall come
Give the corporation some complication!
-Michael Franti, “Rock The Nation.”
Update: July 21, 2016 Newsbud is live, and all Newsbud content can be found at Boiling Frogs Post while the Newsbud website is under construction. Come check it out!
June 1, 2016: Update, the initial Newsbud Kickstarter campaign received a lot of support, but did not make it to the goal for a year’s worth of start-up and operating funds. But, this is too important to give up on! So, we’ve got a new plan, and we’ve launched a new Kickstarter campaign, please check it out here, pledge support if you can, and help us spread the word. We have 20 days left.