Friday, November 16, 2007

Trust, News and Democracy

An important criterion for an effective, free democracy is the existence of an independent media, able to comment, inform and engage people in debate about issues in society. Two articles today illustrate how this ideal is difficult to achieve in practice, even within a nominally free and progressive democracy.

The first shows the editorial manipulation of an interview to create the story the media wanted, rather than the one it got. The second illustrates the overt manipulation of media for political purposes.

Sadly, these are not isolated examples. They reflect an ethos which suborns freedom and democracy in favour of an ideology wherein the end is used to justify the means: those manipulating and/or controlling the story are so sufficiently self-convinced by their own correctness and beliefs, that a sense of paranoia pervades all their actions and expressly non-democratic activities are justified as being in the name of democratic reform.

The examples above are a graphic reminder that personal ethics and collective morality are not slogans, nor sound bites, but a habit reflected in the daily practice of life.

As Ghandi taught:
  • We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives. Let our lives be open books for all to study.
  • You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
  • My life is my message.
Sometimes new items appear just at the right time. This article further underscores the point about a free media and the selectivity which the mainstream media often chooses to employ in determining what news gets reported. It also underscores how significant a role blogs have played in breaking the information monopoly mainstream media outlets used to enjoy.