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Table of content for this series can be found here.
Match 4: On The Payroll
For those who are old enough, once upon a time there was something called a newspaper. In the old days before internet, if you want to know what's going on around the world, you have to go to the news stands, pay some coin to buy a newspaper. It contains information printed on big size papers.
Newspaper is a consumer product. It is a business to make money. It is obvious, because journalists are people and they need to put food on the table. The editors need to put food on the table. The printers need to put food on the table. If they are putting their time and effort to come up with something, it is better to sell, and sell well. Therefore, what kind of information it contains, depends on what information the potential buyers are interested. Some interested in international politics, some interested in horse racing, etc. Normally, a newspaper contains a little bit of each.
Then time forwards to the digital age. Who still buy paper newspaper these days when it is available online? Even better, who pay for that whatever $2 a month to skip ad, or get access to articles that other news agents are providing for free?
Well, internet might have save the print cost, the paper cost, but editors and journalists still need to get paid to feed their family. So where do they find the money? This is where the governments provides funding, and billionaires went off to buy up the traditional news media.
Of course, they can go about saying that their editorial standard would never change. But really? Not many people so dumb to bite the hands that feed you. If they do, they won't live very long. The last editor might have some back bones. If he hasn't got forced out, then as soon as he retires, someone more pleasing to the big boss will be hired. It is the same with government funding. Who will be so dumb to expose major government corruption when it is the exact same government that funds your business? Certain government failings can be reported for the news agency to maintain some images of integrities. If they start looking like just nothing but a government mouth piece, then they lose audience. But the really scandalous stuff? No.
News agency is not a business set up to report unbiased fact. It also can't be helped in modern world, this narrative is controlled by government and very rich people who are paying the bill. For those of us who live in the west and more or less speak only English or maybe another European language, our understanding of the world outside us are sharped by these powerful forces. Who go visit Syria, Afghanistan, China, Korea, Russia, etc and talk to the locals? Who read the material in local language to get an idea what the locals think? Our understanding of the world often is highly influenced by selective information these news agencies, controlled by government and the rich, present to us.
The state propaganda becomes more evident, when the government wants to lead the nation to an unpopular or unwinnable war. Media reporting are highly bias, highly sensational. Fact is only being reported if it favours your side, and never mentioned if it favours the other side. Context, history and even geography are omitted. Your enemy's point of view is totally banned. Therefore, the government keeps pushing for more war spending, and benefit the military industrial complex.
We have seen how the anti-war discussion being shut down in the past during Iraq and Afghanistan, and we know how it ends. Ukraine is just a history repeat itself.