Sunday 9 January 2011

The News

Today's blog dare topic is about why I do/do not watch the local news.

I used to be a current affairs junkie. When I lived in Australia I would watch 4 Corners, Sixty Minutes, the Sunday Show as well as local news programmes. I read at least 3 newspapers a day. I don't know why, just my natural curiosity. Whilst I enjoyed my diet of news, I was always suspicious, I knew that the "news" that we get, is the "news" they want you to see and to read, true independent journalism is hard to find.

My news diet stopped abruptly. 9/11. The day of 9/11 was tough, I worked for a bank in a call centre, on that same day one of Australia's national airlines went bust, and our bank had a partnership with them for rewards on a credit card. All day calls came flooding through, people worried they had lost their points. It was then I realised that people are basically insensitive, self seeking individuals, and it worried me. It was very much "me me me". Its not as if points are a right, they are a gift! You've used the credit, you pay the bills, the points are a bonus. People have died. The free world, as we know it, has been turned upside down, and your mithering about some points for free flights.

After 9/11 I stopped reading the papers or watching the news. What upset me most of all was the way in which Islam was being misrepresented, and then the US war-mongering started, it was all too much, so I opted out. I stopped the news entirely. I stopped buying papers, I stopped watching news programmes.

Now I do have half an eye on the news. I will watch our evening news, and occasionally read the news on line. I no longer buy a paper, or watch current affairs programmes, unless there is an issue I am particularly following.

The last thing I actively sought out on this topic was "The War You Don't See", by John Pilger, which reinforced my distrust of the news agencies and governments. Particularly abhorent is the practice of "embedding" journalists with the military. How can you possibly retain your independence and perspective is tied up with those who are protecting you? How can you be truly critical? How can you, Mr/Ms Journalist, tell me what's really going on if you are embedded? You can't.

Like him or loathe him, Julian Assange, who was interviewed for this programme, is turning modern journalism on its head. By giving a voice and an outlet to "leakers" to people who seek to tell us what is really going on, he is turning the world, governments and journalistic integrity on its head.

I'm not sure that I set out to write a blog in defence of Wikileaks, and to be honest, I only have a very broad overview of it and how it all works, but I do know, that now more than ever, with the number of sources we have of news and information, truth and integrity and more important than ever.

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