Rupert Murdoch versus democracy

So, yeah. Murdoch’s been given the go-ahead on his buyout. It was Vince Cable’s decision until he said on record that he was ‘declaring war’ on Murdoch, then it was passed on to Jeremy Hunt who has summarily waved through the deal.

Murdoch’s made a bit of a concession, that he’ll only maintain ownership 39% of Sky News (as distinct from BSkyB), making sure that the news service is as balanced and impartial as it is at the moment. Huh. Kinda conceding that his ownership would indeed affect it’s impartiality?

 

Hang on, step back a bit. What’s the problem? Murdoch’s a good businessman. He makes his money by people’s advocating the services he facilitates, like voting in confidence with your wallet. Y’know, there must be a good reason why he’s got so much power. It’s the way it is for a reason.

The most cogent, simplest and elegant argument voiced (amongst, I must say, many truly rigorous analyses and incisive dissections) went along the lines of:

“Bollocks.”

Promising greater media freedom, Murdoch has instigated greater media homogenisation and reinvented media as an assortment of corporations and accountants, not investigators and truth-tellers. He buys political favours to suit his corporate interests. Instead of investing in quality journalism, we see profits being prioritised and streamlining resulting in more deskwork, second-hand facts. Corporate and celebrity PR trumps quality journalism. We’re seeing investigative journalism being cut away by the pound because it’s expensive. Murdoch and his legacy are cropping journalism at the expense of the truth.

 

And now we’re seeing greater marginalisation of competition broadcasters.

 

How do you encourage private healthcare? Fail to provide the necessary resources in public healthcare.

How do you encourage private education? Fail to provide the necessary resources in public education.

How do you encourage private broadcasting? Fail to provide the necessary resources in public broadcasting.

I hate to be repetitive, but the pattern is clear.

 

And it’s not as though David Cameron met with the Murdoch Dynasty before even being voted into office (however tenuously).

 

The conceptual relationship between news and democracy is hugely important. There is a common misconception, perpetuated by I’ll-bet-you’ll-never-guess-who, advocating that the notion of a free market in news media is interchangeable with the notion of freedom of the press. The discourse is at the stage where it’s difficult to argue that anything but the market can deliver freedom for journalists. And this is a dualism that we need to break down.

We know what Murdoch’s advocating. What he’s always advocated. He wants the power to do and say what he wants. If he wasn’t the biggest media mogul in the world, that would be fine. But he’s not just a successful businessman – never believe that – he’s also in absolute and unequivocal control over one of the most influential networks of information exchange.

That’s a social responsibility, right there, if ever I heard one. Our news media is as influential as our education system, especially amongst particular age brackets.

We still have 15 days before the deal goes through completely. Have a look at Avaaz’s latest petition. Keep on shouting until your throat is sore. This is important stuff. Some of the most important stuff.

It all depends, ultimately, on whether you think that the truth is less important than what sells.

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