Is it News or Propaganda?

Propaganda. Image Source: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916, Flickr, Creative Commons

Propaganda.
Image Source: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916, Flickr, Creative Commons

Bonn, Germany (Pressenza) – The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum officially opened today in Bonn, Germany with several speakers mentioning the “disinformation” coming from such countries as Russia and Iran through their publicly-funded media channels, Russia Today and Press TV respectively, both of which are Pressenza partners.

The more we listened to these speeches, the more difficult it became to listen because it was clear that there is complete ignorance regarding “objectivity”? Why is it that well educated and experienced media professionals can be under such a strong illusion that they are objective?

Listening to their speeches you realise that they see other countries’ publicly-funded media as “propaganda” yet their own is “true” and “objective”. You realise that these people cannot see that they also have an opinion, that they also have a history, they have been “formed” by a system that consists of an education, a culture, and a set of established societal norms codified in laws and behavioural etiquette.

They can’t see that they haven’t chosen any of this. What they take to be objective truth is what has been placed there by a system which uses violence in all its forms and this system expresses itself also through their journalism.

Let’s take a few examples: Social protesters in Egypt in the Arab Spring are hailed as freedom-fighters seeking to throw off decades of oppression whereas social protestors in Plaza de Mayo in Spain, or Zuccoti Park in New York are naïve, ignorant and violent extremists trying to bring instability to the world.

When public demonstrations against capitalism, war, climate change, etc., are covered in the media, the majority of the time is dedicated to the delinquent who threw a chair through the window of a fast-food restaurant, while the creative, non-violent and humorous expression of hundreds of thousands of others is virtually ignored. Instead of focusing on what are the causes of the protest, the media covers how many police officers it took to arrest the violent ones.

Economic crisis in Greece is portrayed to be the result of lazy Greeks who only have themselves to blame, that political leaders trying to resist austerity are stupid, that they have no choice but to continue accepting cuts to basic public services and pensions and they have to continue to descend into extreme poverty. The “objective” media doesn’t show that there are economic alternatives to this miserable system that leaves 99% of the population in thrall to the 1%.

Propaganda is not only what you show on the news, it’s what you don’t show on the news.

In Pressenza we know that peace and nonviolence isn’t a very “sexy” branch of journalism. We know that we are not breaking the strength of the main-stream media yet, but at least we know that we HAVE a point of view, we are not objective. We accept it, we own it and we publish it.

What allows human beings (humanity) to develop is good; what prevents human beings from being able to develop (violence) is bad.

What we publish has to do with this and we do this for you, our readers, because we believe that there is a need for journalism where the human being is the central value. You can call it “propaganda” if you like but please don’t let anyone tell you that what others publish is objective truth. There’s no such thing.