To:    Guardian CiF
Re:   The opposing roles and dilemma of a "free" press and media
Date: Friday 18 June  07


In response to article by Polly Toynbee on how the "press is damaging our national psyche".

Link to article and thread at The Guardian.

When we emphasis the importance of a "free" press and media what most of us have in mind is the freedom (assuming we have or can gain access to the means) to select and disseminate news, information, views and ideas which, notwithstanding the severe limitation of means (now being slightly but significantly reduced by the Internet), is absolutely essential for a civilized society.

But a "free" press and media also means the freedom to exploit it to one's own (or one's company, party, etc.) advantage and "power", keeping in mind that money is the most important and versatile form of power, and that even without financial gain, simply being in a position to select news and the way it is presented, or to disseminate one's own views and opinions to large numbers of people, is a personally very satisfying and social-status-imparting occupation.

These two roles of the media are deliberately confounded by those primarily interested in its latter role, i.e. exploiting it to their own advantage and power, which is the role that dominates overwhelmingly, not least in the form of advertising, and is having such a pernicious and damaging influence on society and the direction in which it is heading.

The first role of a free media is essential to saving our civilization from the catastrophe towards which its second role is currently taking it.

If ever there were a dilemma in urgent need of a solution, this is it.


2nd Post

Having pointed to the dilemma created by the "free media's" two roles (one salutary the other largely pernicious) in my precious post, here are my suggestions towards solving it.

In order to create a media free from commercial exploitation, which I believe we must, we have to make it independent of commercial interests. But how?

By being prepared to pay the true price for it, instead of getting it for free or on the cheap thanks to commercial interests paying for it in order to exploit it and get back more money than they put in (mainly through advertising which is driving our grossly materialistic and thus inherently unsustainable economy and way of life). And by making control of the media far more transparent and grass-roots democratic (which is lacking at the BBC).

I know, that doesn't answer the question, but it does, I think, point to the direction in which the solution lies.