A media chicken cage

by Michael Ewin
April 19, 2008

You probably have seen TV images of battery chicken in cages that are force feed food. I have seen these images as well, but I have also visited chicken battery sheds when I helped an organic orchardist collect the chicken shit to use as fertiliser. What amazed me was the large number of dead chickens there are in their cages in the sheds. Each morning the chicken farmer had to remove the dead chooks.

Sometimes the dead chickens are used when new trees are being planted. The birds are thrown in the hole that the tree is to be planted in. I was told that it makes a good fertiliser when the tree grows up and the roots reached the decayed carcass. You never see dead chickens in TV footage filmed inside the battery sheds though.

One day I happened to watching the midday ABC TV news when I was writing this section item on April 17, 2008. There had been a lovely all night thunderstorm in Perth the previous night and I was inspired to make notes to enter into the computer the next day. It is a rare to have a grey overcast grey day in Perth, when the air is crisp, clear, clean and cold.

On this day watching this TV midday news, which was really the Midday “Money News Report” it suddenly struck me. The people who are watching the midday TV news are those retired people all around Australia who are mostly very concerned about their superannuation savings, and their financial future.

That particular ABC news TV bulletin opened the general news segment with money stories about (a) the Chinese wanting to buy West Australia’s Iron ore mines, (b) how the biggest mining company wanted to buy out their main competitor, (c) how the profits from one mining company this quarter were an all time record high (d) and lastly a man saying how Australia was going to be immune from the coming American recession because the Chinese economy would be booming for the next 5 years (yeah, dream on) so our Australian exports of mined recourses would not be affected. Of course this is the message that everyone wants to hear.

In this exact same news report we were shown the dramatic images from the camera of a Palestinian TV news cameraman. He was killed by an Israeli tank. We were told to look for the flash from the tank’s gun that killed him, he virtually filmed his own death. Then we saw from another angle the actual camera he was holding when he was killed, and of course the images of all his journalist friends wailing and screaming in shock. We also saw the children next to their push bikes who were killed by the same exploding shell. Of course we then had the “balanced” TV images from the Israeli’s perspective. Images from their cameraman who showed the Israeli soldiers in uniform entering the area the tank had shot at, and then blowing up a house where two “terrorists” or “freedom fighters” were supposed to be hiding. A very English accent used the word ‘vengeance’ in the script but the ABC did not say who produced the report, I assumed it was the BBC.

What is my point? That news about the money market was regarded as more important than this highly unusual, but conventional international new items.

So what does that particular news item have to do with chickens in battery cages who are being feed the same diet day and day after day?

Or indeed, what is the link with free range chickens who can wander about and graze on a wide number of natural foods on the ground or on human food leftovers that are feed to the chooks?

If you watch TV news, if you rely on the ABC for your news, then you are like the chickens in the battery cages. You are spoon fed your media food and the diet is extremely limited, very repetitive.


I think that it is time to finally create terms or phrases to describe these two totally different classes of media consumers.

If they get their news from the Internet and search for it, and make their decisions as to what information and perspective is important to them, then maybe we can now name them “The Grazing Internet Tribe”.

You cannot even compare an Internet user who researchers all over the Internet for their news, to a person who sits passively in a chair in front of a TV set and lets a news director paid for by the government tell themwhat is news.

So what shall we call these addicted TV viewers? What about “The One Eyed TV Tribe”.

These two tribes are very different. Compare Buddhists who follow the Dalai Lama to stock brokers in New York city who follow stock exchanges, or compare a drag racer “who goes no where faster” to the lone canoeist who slowly paddles a canoe across the Tasman.

The commercial TV stations do not produce real deep news, only sensational themed entertainment oriented content which is just visual trivia, not real news which effects a viewers life. This is why we always see images of plane crashes, petrol tankers burning in another country, or images of a horrific train crash in a remote region of the world we did not know existed.

Commercial TV news stations just want dramatic images, nothing more.

Don’t under estimate the real power of corporate media.

There is a tendency for most academics or professionals who do not work in media to underestimate the real power and influence modern media had during the 20th century, specifically before the advent of the Internet. Corporate media’s agendas and ideologies became the major molder of beliefs and opinions surpassing then replacing the former role of religious institutions, the schooling system, and universities. Media in fact, became the primary educating factor in all technological societies.

Nations could not even go to war without the support of a compliant media.

Today, as media has always been in our lives since our birth, I believe we tend to underestimate the real power media has over our values.

Does Mass Media expose itself, this fact, it’s real power?

No, in general it does not. It claims to be a champion of freedom never addressing the censorship by omission question.

It is interesting to note that Advertising Age’s web site is one of the most widely used and read internet media sites on the internet, with 46 million monthly readers/viewers which is an interesting contrast to You Tube with 65million viewers. According to Internet monitoring service Quantcast, You Tube with thousands of individuals placing their own material there ranks third behind Google with 125 million views per month which is number one.

Marshall McCluham in the 1960’s was the first Western academic to draw the lay person’s attention to the real power of Mass Media in our lives, while today that role has been attained in some ways by the expatriate Australian journalist John Pilger. In England John Monbiot works with-in the media system to challenge it, as does Naomi Klein.

Mass Media corporation executives, their CEO’s, and Managing Editors like to “down play” to their audiences, their power over them!

The man most successful at disguising his global power of course is Rupert Murdock. However he stupidly admitted to his role as ‘king maker’, by placing Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Ronald Ragan, and both the Bush’s on their thrones. This he admitted to one of his ex newspaper editors in an exclusive interview that featured as a front cover feature in New Yorker magazine in 2006. Another example. When America, England and Australia invaded Iraq in 2003, Murdock’s media empire in those three nations aggressively promoted and supported the war, totally ignoring the widespread dissent.

Those who like to rule the world need to rule public opinion and the flow of information that is available.

This is why the Internet has been of concern to certain elite’s since the inception, and why the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been a thorn in their side by not allowing any one body or elite to dominate it. Modern China is the exception where the state employs between 40,000 and 60,000 “monitors” (the numbers differ) who monitor what people say on the Internet and through Google and other search engine companies, edit on line content.

The role of the Internet

There are still large numbers of people who do not access the internet for information.

When the internet first started to become available to users other than academics and scientists, the term ‘Information Poor and Information Rich’ came into existence and was widely used but it seems to have gone out of fashion. However, after 14 years of wide spread internet expansion, and as mass media corporations merged into ever smaller numbers of media conglomerates, and the information power and management of people like Rupert Murdock grew, it became essential for media consumers to research and access the internet for their own information. i.e. to by-pass consensus reality and mass corporate medias.

In the early 21c there are many people today, especially regular internet users or bloggers, who no longer trust big corporate media, or even the once trusted BBC. Though independent to some degree of government and large corporate interests, there are still some controversial subject areas that the BBC will not examine in great depth on a regular basis. For example, UFO researchers in a dozen countries know how corporate media treats their serious research. Another example: the re-emergence of the 10th planet once more into our solar system after a 3660 year absence. More on that later.

A current contemporary example is the DOWDING STREET MEMOS from 2002 relating to the Iraq invasion.

These memos concerned the plans for the invasion of Iraq, and how some high ranking American military people flew across the Atlantic Ocean and went to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other high ranking English government people. The year prior to the invasion they discussed three different and optional invasion plans for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The notes/memos of that meeting were eventually leaked to various press outlets, and outlined how both the Americans and British knew that there were no nuclear weapons in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but that the facts would have to be fitted around the event i.e. “the facts would need to be created so the invasion could go ahead next year”.

Google Dowding Street Memos. They now have their own Wikipedia entry and even a web site outlining the whole story. For some years the story was buried, and here in Australia it was never ever reported by the ABC.

There is policy on such matters, though of course media proprietors and editors claim there is not. I do have emails from the head of ABC Corporate Affairs with a very feeble explanation for such omissions.

Sometimes a controversial story is released late at night in a low ratings time slot or on a slow news Monday. Then the editors can claim “that it has been covered”. This is known as “burying the story”. But it never becomes a major story which gets exposed over and over and over again. To bury a story is very easy.

Project Censored is conducted at the Sonoma State University. Each year students, community experts and faculty staff examine tens of thousands of news stories by journalists working in the American national press, as well as International and Alternative press. This ultimately results in an annual list of the 25 most unreported and censored stories by Corporate media for that year. See www.projectcensored.org

These examples are a prelude to show the link between corporate media and the control of information regarding the events leading up to 2012.

The editors and owners still run the line of ‘The Freedom of the Press’, but the cover up of the 911 Truth Movement is proof that there is a policy not to promote or even expose certain very controversial subjects. Few people in Australia today even realize that a third building (The 47 story WT7 Building) was demolished on that fate full day September 11, 2001.