Introduction to information management and Media Censorship.
by Michael Ewin
You only know what you know by believing what information that comes your way. Who ever controls information controls thought and beliefs.
So….. how do you know that the information you come in contact with is: true or false, accurate or embellished, biased or slanted, misleading or has it even been fabricated for a purpose?
Do you believe all the TV advertisements you see on a TV screen? Hence ‘information’ might not be ‘information’ per se.
Chances are, you believe what you believe, because your recent information arrived via some mass media outlet like the BBC, CNN, or the ABC network?
However most of these media organizations in turn receive their information supplied via news agencies such as Reuters, AAP etc; or from tens of thousands of ‘Press Releases’ issued each and every day from Public Relations firms, lobbyists, corporations, government departments and agencies, activist organizations, conference organizers, publishers, press secretaries and a dozen other bodies who want publicity and exposure via large medias. At odd times private individuals also contact a media organization because they want publicity on some issue.
So following this pattern of ‘information sourcing’ I would like to know what information you have recently discovered on Internet sites, that the big media corporations like Al Jazeera, CNN, the BBC have not presented to you. The Mass Medias around the world are merging, and a recent large merger was between Warner films and Time Corporation. In Australia Murdock’s pay to view Cable TV networks even includes a community Television channel and in the near future will include five BBC channels.
Some media consumers accept that all information in corporate media is true and accurate. This is not an accurate perception.
A definition of propaganda is useful here. Propaganda is information and untruths engineered through a strategy to gain public support for a cause or agenda.
The Nazis arguably ran the most famous propaganda campaign in history, and a half century later documentaries are still being made and books authored on this subject.
According to author David Irving’s book on Joseph Goebbels: “The brilliant propaganda minister once said of the German people: ‘You can’t change the masses. They will always be the same: dumb, gluttonous and forgetful’. Contemptuous of their forgetfulness, he said anything he liked because he believed they were always unaware of what he had said before.”
The 1936 NUREMBER RALLY
“At the 1936 torchlight rally, after a torchlight procession, 150 anti aircraft search lights converged in a vast cupola in the sky above the multitude. Speer had designed a huge eagle over 100 feet in wingspan to crown the stands. Fanfares sounded and bands played the Fuhrer’s favorite March, the Badenweiler, as erect, grim faced, jackbooted he trod onto the podium. His personal standard was unfurled and suddenly, at a shrill command, 30,000 flags dipped in salute.
The entire ceremony centered around the Fuhrer’s podium, where the man of destiny stood alone with upraised arm. He then addressed the multitude over the loudspeakers……When he had finished, the flags were dipped again and half a million sang the national anthem, ‘Deutschland uber Alles’, and Goebbel’s Party Hymn ‘Horst Wessel Lied’. In the silence that then fell, he shrieked “Hail my men”, and the multitude beyed back “Hail my Fuhrer”. (The use of my instead of our gave each individual the feeling that it was his Fuhrer, to whom he belonged).
When did it all start?
“It was on February 28, 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire. Chancellor Adolph Hitler obtained an emergency decree from Paul von Hindenburg placing restrictions on personal liberty, including freedom of the press (shades of Bush’s Patriot Act days after the 911 attack). Thirteen days later, on March 13, 1933, the ‘MINISTRY FOR POPULAR ENLIGHTENMENT AND PROPOGANDA’ was founded under the direction of Dr. Joseph Goebbles, to control the press and all other means ofexpression – radio, film, art and literature” (not unlike a new Ministry called HOMELAND SECURITY in Bush’s America).
From Propaganda The Art of Persuasion: World War 2. By Anthony Rhodes. Chelsea House Publishers 1973 My italics inserted.
There was a tendency for many academics and professionals who do not work in media to underestimate the power and influence modern media had during the 20th century, however this has changed since the advent of the World Wide Web and the Internet.
Corporate media’s ideology and information matrix became the major molder of beliefs and opinions, by surpassing the former role of religious institutions, the schooling system, think tanks, writers and universities. Media (including the film industry) thus 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, we tend to underestimate the real power media has over our values, our cultures and our very lives.
But does Mass Media expose itself and reveal their secret power?
As a general rule large powerful media corporations do not.
Marshall McLuhan in the 1960’s was the first Western academic to draw the lay person’s attention to the Power of Media, http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/
In some ways his role has been continued by Professor Noam Chompsky and the high profile expatriate Australian journalist John Pilger.
Mass Media corporation executives, their editors, and CEO’s like to “down play” to their audiences (consumers), their actual power over them!
The man most successful at disguising his power of course is Rupert Murdock. However he stupidly admitted to his role as the ‘king maker’, by placing Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Ronald Ragan, and both the Bush’s on the throne when heavily promoting them prior to elections with his media empire. He boasted of doing that to one of his ex newspaper editors in a front cover feature in New Yorker magazine in 2006.
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 internet’s spread, and why the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been insistent in not allowing any one body to dominate it.
The Trilateral Commission.
Today there are a number of different bodies that run this planet.
We know about the World Bank, IMF, and the United Nations. The land that the United Nations building was constructed on in New York was a Rockefeller initiative, so the UN would not be located in Europe.
The United Nations activities and conferences are publicized in great detail through media outlets. However we do not often read about the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Tavistok Institute, and the Council of Foreign Relations. Those organizations have an obscure public face but also have double agendas, and information about them all can be found on-line. On top (or beneath) of these there are other older organizations who attempt to remain secret and hidden, and when researchers uncover these murky organizations activities, the carefully orchestrated concept of “conspiracy theories” is used to discredit or blur their existence.
When people such as Rupert Murdock are invited to become members of these elites, the public naturally then remains ignorant about certain sets of information. This is why the heads of major media corporations are always included in the invitation list of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland so that the agenda is never reported in any detail what so ever by the big media corporations
Some researchers regard the Trilateral Commission as an international organization more powerful than aspects of the United Nations.
It was the American oil and finance magnate David Rockefeller who founded the Trilateral Commission in 1973 dividing the world into only 3 regions: Europe, North America and Asia.
It’s 2005 membership numbered 435 members and had 16 members on the 3 regional committees. It reads like a ‘whose who’ of powerful people in the world who are either: – politicians, ex American presidents, leaders in world business being the CEO’s and board members of international corporations, directors of banks, chancellors of universities, and controllers of Think Tanks and privately funded research institutions. There are also lesser numbers of academics, heads of media corporations and publishers as members. I list some of individuals and corporations at the end should readers be interested. (1)
Protests and the Iraq Oil War
The Iraq Oil War has now lasted longer than the Hitler/Japan war, and current estimates are that it has cost over 3 trillion American dollars.
Can you remember the lead up to the Iraq Oil war and the role of mass media?
I vividly recall how the American and Australian media treated their consumers in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Indeed how a spin propaganda term had been created to describe “The Coalition of the Willing”, which was often satirised on placards at the anti-war rallies as “The Coalition of the Killing”.
There was media hysteria in support of the invasion, and an almost total ban on reporting the many anti war rallies and all opposition.
The rally on February 15th 2003, was the biggest the world has ever seen. It took place in over 20 countries and even included scientists in Antarctic bases forming the peace sign on the ice and then posting a photograph on the Internet. These global rallies, just a matter of weeks before the invasion, did become world news, because there were literally millions of people in the streets of central London, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Melbourne, Madrid etc. There were an accurate estimate of 20,000,000 people who gathered at over 250 cities, villages and towns around the world who told their governments not to go to war. I conducted considerable research into that historic event.
However all the other rallies before and after that big one were not covered in great detail by corporate and state owned medias. In fact the corporate media deliberately played down any protests at all, and often would not report them.
Another example of bias and propaganda methods was the policy of introducing “Embedded Journalists” to cover the war. This was automatically accepted by most media corporations. An Embedded Journalist had to be licensed by the military if they wanted to report on the war from any action zone. If they did not agree and sign a contract then they had to sit in a special media centre constructed at a cost of $40 million, (designed by the well know Public Relations company) and located far away in another country in the Middle East and report on the war thousands of miles away from it, just regurgitating the daily military press releases.
War as daily news
I have worked in the ABC television studios as a producer trainee, and in TV news studios, and been a TV news stringer cameraman, so have an understanding of the way the ABC is politicized today. ASIO even has it’s people with-in key ABC positions, but that is not the subject in question here.
Big media corporations give a heavy bias and emphasis on war reporting around the world, as if war is normal and acceptable. War becomes the daily news item, but other subjects are deemed not to be news. Big media, actually programs media consumers with mental conditioning and the victors are arms manufactures and industries. Wars and arms manufacturers are all related, are they not?
From an Asia Times newspaper item dated Aug 19, 2004. World spending on the military estimated to be $950 billion for the year, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 it had fallen to only $780 billion by 1999.
Just exactly where does all the military spending budgets get spent each year? Have you ever thought about that?
The United States has over 7000 military bases and facilities around the world and on their home soil. Their annual military budget currently stands at $500 US billion dollars each and every year. The Chinese military budget is estimated at between $45 US and $60 US billion.
Spying, intelligence and surveillance is very much a growth industry now due to the vast array of new technologies like Echelon etc. According to ABC radio national Background Briefing June 2008 the 16 different US spy agencies budget for 2007 was $46.3 US billion.
A key ingredient of the old civilization is militarization, and the rule by fear or greed.
“Massive government expenditures on war and indiscriminate handouts to the populace eventually exhausted the treasury and debased the currency. Because the emperor had almost all the power, the citizens lost any sense of civic virtue and insisted the government take responsibility. Cynicism replaced patriotism and indolence replaced sacrifice. The wealthy withdrew more and more from public life, scheming news ways to avoid taxes and keep their sons from military service.”
Chapter 7 The Roman Empire Achievement. Page 146 Jim Garrison AMERICA AS EMPIRE. Berrett-Koehler publishers 2004
The Internet & Intellectual Freedom
When on the Internet, consumers need to be able to effectively evaluate what is reliable and accurate information, and what is not. What information was placed there just for purely commercial reasons, and what has been deliberately placed there as ‘Disinformation’. However some people today still believe that there is no such activity of ‘Disinformation’ even after the truth about the invasion of Iraq was exposed and proven.
Astute Internet consumers and researchers also need to look to see if there might be other agendas not immediately obvious to them at first.
In controversial subjects, many people posting information there might not be qualified; they might be representing other hidden interests. In some instances vested interests have a lot to loose if the truth about certain subjects becomes available through the internet. In fact, there has been a raging information war being played out there ever since the Internet became commonly available this century.
Today more than ever, we literally live in an information warfare zone without realizing it. Not soldiers fighting on a battlefield but media consumers being assailed by corporate media empires. Truth can be the causality.
In essence this has become a literal battle between (a) information consumers seeking a truth of a matter, with (b) those agencies placing disinformation to create confusion, and maintain a status quo of the existing created beliefs, and (c) individuals who are able to make money from the resulting confusion. Hollywood is widely used in this battle for human minds especially younger generations.
The public relations industry world wide is proof of this practice. The Public Relations (PR) industry works mostly through corporate and state owned medias, but has been known to create web sites designed to deliberately misinform. Mother Jones magazine in America likes to expose such businesses.
The debate about global warming and the role of the oil industry is probably the best known example of this practice. Many internet sites were established in the late 1990’s to discredit the science of the link between human activity, fossil fuels and global warming. In turn organizations like ExxposeExxon and the Centre for Media Democracy and their sister organization PR Watch set out to expose such practices. Desmog Blog is another.
With Western mass media (like the large nation wide TV networks), when information is in the hands of just a small number of sources or gateways, it becomes in some respects quite dangerous – for we have the illusion of Freedom of the Press and information but there can be clever censorship by omission.
Incidentally, an interesting and reliable site with no advertising that carries a vast amount of excellent information never found in corporate media is www.educate-yourself.org (it has a hyphen).This is only the small tip of a very big ice berg.
China today is the best known example where Internet censorship is being openly applied. The Chinese government has stated they have 60,000 workers who are monitoring Internet use with-in China itself and offshore communications. Both Google and Murdock’s News Corporation have signed agreements with the Chinese government accepting conditions imposed upon them, conditions which do not apply elsewhere in the world.
In Western societies mass media has audiences of very large numbers of people (millions) who are not really well informed over a wide range of subjects, but these same media consumers believe they are.
Mass Media is never ever a good and reliable source of information on controversial subjects. Multinational Corporations closely control the agenda of what is reported, and what is not reported.
The advertising and public relations industry supply the revenue stream that media corporations profits rely on. Their clients are more the corporations and shareholders, than those who consume their media.
It is not rocket science to understand that they are never going to conduct an investigation into themselves and expose their links to corporate and big industry interests. Of course they never turn the spotlight on themselves!
In fact mainstream corporate media will often ridicule or satirise alternative viewpoints, rather than examine them openly with open balanced investigative journalism. This is left to very small niche magazines like Mother Jones News, the Nation, Utne Reader, The Monthly and so on, known collectively as Alternate Media.
Znet, Alternet, Common Dreams are just a few of the many internet news sites that cover topics corporate media does not cover and report.
I have processed over 300 media organizations that have web sites, comparing statistics of the viewing numbers at each site, and other demographic information like gender, age and income. I also wanted to classify these media into the following groupings and compare them. If you are interested in the world of media management and control of information via well information gateways the following might be on interest.
There are literally millions of web sites in the world now so to have a high ranking (i.e. viewing numbers per month) is a real achievement.
My categories being :
(1) Old Established Media – Time Magazine, #163 with 1.4 million hits per month. CBS, #39, 6.2 million in USA views per month. CBS NEWS, #200, globally 21.6 million. BBC, #145, 7.3 million in the USA. Newsweek, # 78, 24million. ABC Australia, #1,418, USA 1.5m. views. Reuters, #289 with 4.9million. The Independent UK. #1226, 1.7m USA views. Rolling Stone #2.334, 1million. The New Yorker and two dozen similar paper or electronic media that now have an internet presence:
(2) New Internet Media – * Huffington Post #165 15million.*Slate #548, 3m.*Alternet, Crikey, *Common Dreams #3,139. 1.04Million
(3) Left Leaning Old Media – The Guardian, #721, 2.5m. The Nation, Mother Jones;
(4) Niche Quality Media – Utne Reader, Orion Magazine, Wired, # 567,7.9 million. Scientific American # 2,205. 1.7 global. New Scientist #2,641with 940,000. Vanity Fair 3,622. 680,000. (5) Entertainment Media – Variety # 2,053, 1.1 m. Entertainment Weekly, #381, 3.1 million. Hollywood Reporter
(6) Financial Media – Business Week # 805, 2.3m.Wall Street Journal, Forbes, #409, 3.8 m. Bloomberg #204
(7) Ethic Media – Jewish, Spanish, Chinese etc
(8) Underground Media – Info Wars, Nexus Magazine, Atlantis Rising, New Dawn Magazine and my last category is
(9) Green Media – Earth Times #5,544. 446,000. EN News, Grist, Energy Bulletin, G Magazine.
One point I make is that both media researchers and writers gain a strong impression by looking at the front page of a magazine, newspaper or of a web site
I trust this information indicates that I have a reasonable understanding of the information processes that are in place in the world today. I commenced a media career in 1960 in office 4 doors away from Phillip Adams, and worked side by side with Harold Mitchell, now the biggest media buyer in Australia. Both of these men get their voice regularly heard through the ABC. It appears that the ABC has their list of the chosen people who they regularly feature. Of course this appearance list excludes certain radical or unorthodox views they do not like to present. The same applies to documentary funding.