Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Never, in my experience, has free journalism been as vulnerable to subversion on a grand, often unrecognisable scale. Giant public relations companies, employed by the state and other vested interests, now account for much of the editorial content of the media, however insidious their methods and indirect their message. This is another kind of “embedding”, known in military circles as “information dominance”, which in turn is part of “full spectrum dominance”. The objective is the merging of information control and the nominally free media.
How do we react to this? My own view is that the immediate future lies with the emerging samidzat, the word for the unofficial media during the late Soviet period. Given the current technology, the potential is huge. On the worldwide web, the best alternative websites are already read by an audience of millions. The courageous reporting of a new breed of “citizen reporters” from besieged Iraq has provided an antidote to the “embedded” coverage of the official media. In the United States, independent newspapers flourish alongside popular independent community-based radio stations, such as Pacifica and Amy Goodman's Democracy Now.