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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/15/20

Why The 'Journalists' Don't Like Julian

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Republished from The American Herald Tribune

Journalism on Trial
Journalism on Trial
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Why is it that so many journalists have turned their backs on Julian Assange? Why do so many abuse him instead of defending him? He is, after all, a world historic figure who will be remembered centuries from now in the same way we remember Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Thomas Paine. Thanks to technology, Assange has been able to do far more than they could ever imagine in advancing the 'right to know' component of human rights. He has broken more real news than all the journalists who sneer at him put together, so resentment could be one explanation. They say Assange is 'not a journalist' when what they mean is that he is not a journalist like them.

The keywords here are mediation and control. 'What lies behind the headlines' has another meaning beyond what is really going on in politics. 'What lies behind the headlines' is also what goes on in newsrooms before you read your morning paper or watch the evening news bulletin.

News is a product, like anything that comes off the factory floor. The raw material comes in, is processed, refined and polished before being placed on the sales shelf called 'news.' Millions of pieces of news flow into editorial rooms every day. What you read or watch is only the tiniest fraction of this flood.

What you read or see is what someone is choosing for you, what someone thinks is 'news' compared to all the other items that never see the light of day, what someone thinks you should know as opposed to what you might like to know.

News in the mainstream is mediated from start to finish. The reporter produces the raw product. Whether it is a car crash or civil war, someone else will always see it differently but his or her particular version is the raw material submitted for processing. Editors at the daily news conference decide if it deserves a place and where it should be placed, on page one, three or five, at the top of the page or lower done, under a one column or three column heading, at the top of the nightly news bulletin or closer to the bottom.

The editor has the final say. He or she is the link between the board and the advertisers and has to deal with the pressure that might come from their direction when the story is a sensitive one. Thus, depending on the relationship between editor and the board/proprietor, an important story might not be published at all or might be shriveled to the point where it no longer seems important.

The decision made, an editor gets to work, cutting, reshaping, honing and polishing the story, maybe moving paragraphs around if he or she thinks they are not in the right order, until the product is ready to attract the attention of the reader/viewer, much as the male jackdaw lines the nest with silver paper to attract the attention of the female. There can be differences of opinion between the reporter and the editor along the way but in essence they are egotistical, not over truth or untruth or the public's right to know, but over how the story should be written and presented.

There is no unmediated news in the mainstream media. It is the news as decided by reporters and editors, from the choice of story to report in the first place to the end of the production line. There could be thousands of other news items you the reader or viewer might think are worthier of space and time that never see the light of day.

What is happening around the world, therefore, is only what is reported as happening, before being processed to meet editorial requirements. If it is not reported it might as well not have happened, beyond the impact within the immediate circle of where it did happen. Thus the media can make something happen or unhappen, according to the choices made in editorial rooms.

Control relates to control as exerted vertically, from the board or proprietor down to the editor and then to the very bottom of the editorial chain. Apart from the car crash, the rape or the robbery, there is a line that has to be protected when it comes to important political stories or stories that affect advertisers and the particular media outlet's commercial interests. There is always some flexibility, depending on how tightly controlled the editorial line is from the top, but the general political/social profile of the organization always has to be protected.

If 'news' is to be defined as something we don't know, we could spend our entire lives reading books (and might be better off for it). Much of the 'news' that is printed falls into the same category of what we don't know but whether we really need or want to know it is another question.

The endless goings-on of the Kardashian family might be a good example. The definition of news has swung in the direction of 'celebrity gossip' and the celebrities have responded by providing editors with all the 'news' they might want to print, but 'news' that many of 'us' (readers and viewers) would regard as trash. Of course, for the media to remain viable, the product has to sell and amidst all the Kardashian bottoms, that is the bottom line.

So mediation and control are two reasons the journalists abuse Assange. Given the massive volume of material Wikipedia receives, he or his team have to exert some control and make decisions about how much they can upload within their technical capacity but what they do post is unmediated. There are no cuts, no editing no polishing: the news comes to you in its raw state and you the reader can decide what to make of it, instead of someone telling you what to make of it.

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Jeremy Salt Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East. His publications include "The Unmaking of the Middle East. A (more...)
 

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4 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments  Post Comment


Patricia 0rmsby

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That should be "Wikileaks" I think.

When people tell me Julian is not a journalist, I correct them: You mean he's not a stenographer.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 17, 2020 at 12:39:18 AM

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Jeremy, very good article. Your article is about "Why 'Journalists' don't like Julian." But in large part, it is also about what you are allowed to read and see in the media; it is about who controls what you read and see. The quotes below are certainly pertinent to what the reader is allowed to read and see.

From your article:

The keywords here are mediation and control. 'What lies behind the headlines' has another meaning beyond what is really going on in politics. 'What lies behind the headlines' is also what goes on in newsrooms before you read your morning paper or watch the evening news bulletin.

What is happening around the world, therefore, is only what is reported as happening, before being processed to meet editorial requirements. If it is not reported it might as well not have happened, beyond the impact within the immediate circle of where it did happen. Thus the media can make something happen or unhappen, according to the choices made in editorial rooms.

Control relates to control as exerted vertically, from the board or proprietor down to the editor and then to the very bottom of the editorial chain.

Another reason for journalists disliking Assange is that in one way or another, they are not free to write what they want. They belong to institutions, 'belonging' defined as owned by them. They depend on them for their salaries and their careers. Basically they are correct when they say 'No-one tells me what to write.' No one has to tell them because they already know what to write if they want to keep their jobs, wherever they happen to work.

Self-censorship is central to the practice of journalism in the mainstream. No-one with an eye on their best interests is going to write something they know editors will throw in their face, not because it is badly written but because it goes against the editorial line. They might be lucky enough to agree with the editorial line anyway but if they don't they have to adjust, or look for a future in journalism elsewhere.

Some quotes I gathered back in 2008:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar weekly salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes." John Swinton, a toast before the New York Press Club in 1953. Called by his peers "The Dean of his Profession", was the former Chief of Staff for the New York Times.

"The world you believe exists, does not exist. We live in a form of The Matrix, not unlike the world portrayed in (the) movie. .... high government officials and international bankers are the elite who control all you see and hear as did the aliens portrayed in the movie. The news is a farce. As is the case with the financial institutions which are concentrated in the hands of the few, long ago the media was bought and paid for, ..... What you read and what you see on a daily basis is largely manufactured. You are being lied to, each and every day." - Christopher Mark, "Grand Deception: The Theft of America and the World," Part I

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." -- Edward Bernays, in his book "Propaganda"

"We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected the promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the WORLD if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world-government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the National auto determination practiced in past centuries"--David Rockefeller in an address to a Trilateral Commission meeting in June of 1991

"The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media." William Colby, former director of the CIA (1973-1976). As quoted in "Derailing Democracy: The America the Media Don't Want You to See (2000)", by Dave McGowan

When asked in a 1976 interview whether the CIA had ever told its media agents what to write, William Colby replied, "Oh, sure, all the time." "Understanding the Global News" by Jaap van Ginneken, p 97.

"We in the press like to say we're honest brokers of information and it's just not true. The press does have an agenda." Bernard Goldberg, as quoted by Harry Stein in the June 13-19, 1992 TV Guide.

"In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding, and powder interest, and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press....They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. "An agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers." - U.S. Congressman Oscar Callaway, THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD FEBRUARY 9, 1917 - PAGE 2947 & PAGE 2948.

"Instead of three competing television networks called NBC, CBS, and ABC, what we really have is the Rockefeller Broadcasting Company, the Rockefeller Broadcasting System, and the Rockefeller Broadcasting Consortium." -Gary Allen, "The Rockefeller File," 1976

"We know in the not too distant future, a half dozen corporations are going to control the media. We took this step (merger) to ensure we were one of them"--Time Warner spokesperson.

"There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear." - Ted Turner founder of CNN, Reuters, April 25, 2003

"I know the secret of making the average American believe anything I want him to. Just let me control television." - Hal Becker, media ''expert'' and management consultant, the Futures Group think tank, in an interview in 1981

"Now it will be easy to carry on the fight, for we can call on all the resources of the State. Radio and press are at our disposal. We shall stage a masterpiece of propaganda." - Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, in in his diary, February 3, 1933

" Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play." - Joseph Goebbels, Time Magazine, Mar 27,1933

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 17, 2020 at 1:33:57 AM

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Nels Wight

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Great Scott, that's a lot for my pot. What a response, how do you do it?

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 17, 2020 at 12:26:25 PM

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Why is it that so many journalists have turned their backs on Julian Assange?

Mostly because they are no longer journalists. Their education and ethical obligation to the profession have been perverted. Some so called journalists are not even aware of what they have allowed themselves to become while the more insightful ones have been frightfully chilled, and are just going along with the program. After all when they drop them dollars on you to make you look and act another way than you were...there goes the soul...just floating away and condensing into the stench that is gagging the world.

Submitted on Friday, Sep 18, 2020 at 6:14:41 AM

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