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Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to ‘Freedom of Speech’ Claims
Dick Smith’ controversial letter to Mr Williams

Dick Smith Population

Mr Williams, CEO of News Limited in Australia says we do not need to worry about the domination of the Murdoch press because we now have digital media”! Let’s see if it works.

Kim Williams AM
CEO and Managing Director
News Limited
2 Holt St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Via Email

Dear Kim

I believe your personal campaign against proposed government media reforms is hypocritical as it is your organisation that is largely responsible for this reaction by our politicians.

You claim, “We are in danger of limiting the full reign of freedom of speech which we cherish and keeps our democracy on its toes.” This is, to put it plainly, claptrap. Your organisation constantly limits freedom of speech and even censors paid announcements when it is in your commercial interests to do so.

You say we shouldn’t worry about your organisation’s dominance of the media as a diversity of opinion can now be had through digital media. Could you be referring to this type of opinion from a popular online site:

“The news industry is failing us; owned by self-interested corporate media barons who put profit before principle. Today’s news is more interested in generating sensationalism and controversy than fulfilling its historic mission of educating the public and our democracies are in danger as a result.”

Never have truer words been said, but where can we read them in print?

Personally, I would prefer that the government’s planned media reforms were not necessary, but I can see why they are being proposed. Many Australian politicians and leaders have told me they are scared of the power of your organisation, and so they should be.

I believe your threats of High Court action are a smokescreen to deflect criticism from the real issue: your organisation’s biased and intimidating reporting. You have one agenda only – the pursuit of ever-increasing profits for your shareholders. You have absolutely no interest in anything other than this and you should admit it, not make false claims implying your prime concerns are freedom of the press and democracy.
(23 July 2012)

Journatic worker takes ‘This American Life’ inside outsourced journalism

Anna Tarkov, Poynter
Not long after he started working for Journatic, Ryan Smith felt there was something not quite right about what the company was doing. The Chicago freelance journalist started working for Journatic, which provides outsourced journalism work for newspapers, in January of 2011, and he was glad to have steady work, even if it paid $10 an hour with no benefits.

At first, Smith worked primarily for Journatic’s sister company That’s when he noticed information was often pulled from LinkedIn, writing was outsourced to foreign countries like the Philippines,and bylines were sometimes fake.

But Blockshopper was small, Smith thought. Then things started changing. After moving to Journatic proper, Smith started seeing names like The Houston Chronicle and Newsday on his copy-editing assignments. Because he knew that Journatic produced its content at a very low cost, it made him fear for the newspapers they serviced. “I felt like the company I was working for was accelerating the death of the newspaper, luring many members of the industry into their own demise with the promise of short-term savings,” Smith said via email this week.

He decided to do something about his concerns. At the end of 2011, he contacted Michael Miner, the Chicago Reader’s media reporter, to discuss his qualms about what Journatic was doing. Miner in turn contacted Journatic, which tipped off the higher-ups that someone was leaking information to the press as it was completing a deal with the Chicago Tribune to produce its suburban coverage. Journatic was not pleased.

Smith said that Peter Behle, Journatic’s executive editor, sent an email to Journatic employees instructing them not to talk to the media and offering to pay $50 in “hush money” to anyone who reported getting a request
(3 July 2012)

The Switch: Act Two. Forgive us our Press Passes
Sarah Koenig, This American Life
Producer Sarah Koenig reports on a company called Journatic, that is producing local journalism in a brand new way. Or is it really journalism? (23 1/2 minutes)

People pretending to be people they’re not: sometimes it’s harmless, sometimes it’s harmful and sometimes it’s hard to tell. From world-famous artists to mail-order brides to a practice that could change the face of American journalism.
(29 June 2012)
Suggested by Asher Miller of PCI.

Aggressive Cluelessness: Then and Now

Thomas S. Harrington, Common Dreams
… This so-called Christian “Reconquest”[in Spain]– which was declared complete by royal authorities by the very same year that Queen Isabel sponsored Columbus’s first westward journey–left a profound stamp upon Peninsular life.

First, it enthroned military force as the prime “reason” of the state.

Second, and perhaps more important in the long run, it insured that the two country’s civic, and from there, and educational spheres would always operate under the force of religious dogma.

In practical terms, this meant a renewed emphasis on medieval scholasticism in Iberian schools and universities.

If one were to ask a teacher from that Golden Age of Iberian history, let’s say a professor at the prestigious University of Salamanca, to define scholasticism, he would probably tell you that it is a system of education rooted in the idea of learning through argumentation and dispute.

And, to a certain extent, he would be right.

What he would probably not say, or at least emphasize, however, is the fact that that those arguments and disputes would take place within a framework defined by a number of pre-ordained truths, the most important being that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (as opposed to those of Christ himself) were the world’s most important font of existential knowledge.

In other words, one was free to argue quite vigorously as long as this central “truth” and its many accompanying and/or underlying assumptions were not subjected to any serious form of cross-examination.

Nations and empires undergirded by a sense of religious certainty can do extraordinary things in the short run, especially–as was the case of Spain and Portugal for much of the 16th century–when great historical fortune is on their side.

The true test of a nation’s or a social project’s greatness comes, however, when those favorable historical conditions are altered.

It is at those moments when we see whether the guardians and promoters of the prevailing orthodoxy have been “ecologically” wise enough to cultivate, or at least tolerate, a healthy degree of intelligent dissent within the body politic, or have, on the contrary, fallen prey to their totalitarian impulses and have cleansed critics of the dominant paradigm from the country’s civic and educational institutions.

The story of Iberia’s long and often unseemly decline is the story of a failure to adapt to changing circumstances, especially those engendered by the advent of the Protestant Reformation and its ideological stepchildren: free inquiry and industrial capitalism.

However, the failure to rise to these challenges was not the result, as it is sometimes portrayed, of a sudden dearth of intelligent or vigorous people in the society.

Rather, it was because Iberia’s many highly intelligent and vigorous people were forced into an educational system–rooted in scholasticism and possessed of great, if highly misplaced, confidence in the universality and endless durability of its own suppositions—that implicitly (and often quite explicitly) demanded that they refrain from asking large questions of a systemic or paradigmatic nature.

I am reminded of all this as I observe the comportment of our policy-making elites during the current economic crisis.

For more than three decades, big money, working hand in hand with the big media it controls, has sought to elevate free market economics—understood here as the idea that economies work best for the citizenry when government involvement in them is at its lowest possible level—to the category of an unassailable truth in the public mind.

And, as anyone who has seen Inside Job knows, their efforts did not stop there. During the same period they used their financial largesse to a) pack university departments of economics with believers in their one true faith and b) buy off, through rich consulting contracts and impressive sounding sinecures, many of the already established academics who might otherwise be inclined to show that a government retreat from regulation is not actually as good for the public as the the one-percenters and their paid mouthpieces in the media constantly claim it is.

As a result, an entire realm of economic knowledge and experience having to do with the state management of both micro and macro-economic policy, cannot be talked about in “serious” company, or in any widely-known venue of our mass media
(24 July 2012)