Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Fourth Estate Is Being Reduced To A Corporate Fifth Column

The demise of the NZPA is regrettable. As a social democrat, I believe it is naive to expect capitalist corporations or media “barons” like Rupert Murdoch to act in the public interest untainted by a political agenda. The corporate media consolidation is a corrosive social force. It robs people of their voice in public affairs and turns the debates about profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy. Spin will replace the independent attempt to get to the truth about how our country is being plundered. In short the fourth estate will become a fifth column.

With the decline of independent news sources and the government's retreating from funding state radio and television by default the fourth estate (one of the historic protections of our liberty), is now largely controlled by a few corporate boards whose mission is not our liberties and freedoms, but the profit and goals of the managing directors and shareholders. The drive to hold public and private power accountable will increasingly be reduced to a diminishing voice on the sideline as news is manufactured as a consumer commodity.

For democracy to work the people must be informed. The process of providing information to the people is therefore a source of great power. Our democracy has withered as the neutral or non-partisan journalist is being replaced by minions doing their employers bidding. As journalistic resources are reduced journalism no longer becomes the hard bitten digging for "the story" but the process of accepting pre-packaged position papers from competing interest groups. News is becoming the illusion of a popular contest where the reality sees the growth of state power and the strengthening of privilege.

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