New Internationalist

Rax Interview with Media Lens

rax coverIn July, New Internationalist published The Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit. It is aimed primarily at teachers and students of Citizenship Studies in UK schools but in fact it can be used by anyone seeking to engage more actively in the world around them.The Toolkit is a landmark in textbook innovation, graphic style, approach to content and attitudes to learning. It also contains exclusive interviews with a range of voices, from popstars and politicians to young active citizens. Over the coming weeks we will be posting the full text of the Rax interviews.

media lensDavid Cromwell and David Edwards are the editors of a British media analysis website called Media Lens, founded in 2001. They encourage the critical study of current news, by comparing the way alternative media sources cover stories with the way they are covered in the mainstream media. In 2007, Media Lens was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award. The Rax team caught up with them in early 2010.

What issues do you think are most important for young people to address today?

Catastrophic climate change, endless war and conflict, and the propaganda system that boosts state and corporate power. Take climate change. The climate crisis is not a future risk; it is today’s reality. As Myles Allen, a leading British climate scientist, warned back in 2005: ‘The danger zone is not something we are going to reach in the middle of this century. We are in it now.’ Indeed, climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300 million people, according to former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. A 2009 study published by the Forum warned that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030.

Consider also the global ‘War on Terror’: we are to believe that it has something to do with introducing ‘democracy’ to Afghanistan and Iraq. This fits a historical pattern of deception that dates back to the days of the British empire and the founding of the United States of America. Public ignorance of the real intentions behind attacks on Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, or simple dismissal of sceptical public opinion, has been a constant feature of Western statecraft.

Thus, one of the unspoken assumptions of the Western world, at least among influential commentators, is that ‘we’ are great defenders of human rights, a free press and the benefits of market economics. Mistakes might be made along the way, perhaps even awful errors of judgement, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the prevailing view is that ‘we’ are essentially well-meaning, even benign. Certainly that’s what politicians, business leaders and the media – all part of a propaganda system boosting the aims of destructive power - would have us believe.

What does an organization like Media Lens provide for the young critical thinker that they can not access from mainstream media?

We do something very simple; we compare examples of journalism from the corporate media with reporting, analysis and commentary from ‘alternative sources’: human rights groups, environmental campaigners, peace activists, and so on. We aim to highlight what are often glaring gaps between the two. The corporate media, for obvious reasons, all too often reports from a vantage of power; while other sources, often more knowledgeable and genuinely authoritative, report from a grassroots perspective. By presenting such contrasting views of vital issues – climate, war, and so on -  we encourage the reader to pursue the links and references we provide; to make up their own minds; and, if they wish, to challenge the journalists and editors responsible for the distorted corporate media version of events. Our underlying aim is to boost the interlinked qualities of wisdom and compassion.

What advice could you give young campaigners wanting to use the skills of critical thinking and enquiry to get to a reliable body of statistics and points of view regarding an issue?

As we’ve indicated in the previous answer, it’s important to access a wide range of resources and perspectives. You need to be aware of the establishment view of any particular issue as propagated across newspapers, radio and television. To challenge this view, you could then see what some of the more well-known campaign groups say on the same issue – for example, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and so on.  

However, you should bear in mind that many such groups strive to be close to government and the media – seeking access to ministers, battling to influence parliamentary affairs, trying to grab the attention of sympathetic journalists. They often end up being unable or unwilling to really criticise power, and consequently become compromised and part of the system that needs to be changed. You need to seek out voices that are, as far as possible, unfettered by any notion of seeking influence in, or access to, the corridors of power.

For example, when Media Lens was challenging the destructive impact of US/UK-led sanctions on Iraq, it quickly became apparent that we could rely on the testimony of Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, in contrast to the propaganda from British ministers such as Robin Cook and Peter Hain. Halliday and von Sponeck were two senior UN diplomats who had resigned from their Baghdad-based posts running the supposed ‘humanitarian’ Oil-for-Food programme, because they could no longer stand to be part of a ‘genocidal’ sanctions regime that probably led to the deaths of over one million Iraqis between 1991-2003. For obvious conscientious reasons, then, they sacrificed their senior UN positions after decades of service to the ideal of universal human rights. That fact, coupled with their clarity, commitment and compassion, was a powerful challenge to the propaganda coming out of Washington and London.

How do you think that 21st-century digital technology is going to affect the democratic process in the UK and help young people’s campaigns for change?

Forecasting trends in social affairs is a tricky business, so it’s difficult to tell what will be the impact of 21st century digital technology on the democratic process and campaigns for change. Certainly there is huge potential for near-instant challenge of state-corporate propaganda by using the Internet. No longer do we have to wait weeks or even months to receive leaflets, magazines or books that expose the reality behind Western states’ latest ‘humanitarian intervention’ or a corporate bid to control whole swathes of industry while crushing dissent amongst their own workers of people in whose countries they operate.

The impact of online social networking – sites like Facebook, for instance – has already been seen in protests against bankers, fossil fuel dinosaurs and arms companies. As with any new technology, there is a potential for good and also a risk that it will be subverted for other ends. Unless people wake up to the latter possibility, the current window of opportunity may close as governments and media corporations take control of the Internet, limiting its use for grassroots campaigns that raise public awareness and challenge power. It would be a sad failure if the biggest impact on the democratic process was simply to be able to vote at home with one click of a mouse button, thus selecting a political candidate from a narrow range of options, all representing similar powerful interests in society. On the other hand, the internet makes it much easier for people to gain access to information and ideas challenging illusions rooted in the needs of power and profit.

What would your three top tips be for young people seeking to create a positive change in their world?

1. Think more deeply about the standard news framework. The main problem with corporate news is that it restricts the limits of thinkable thought. On the Six O’Clock News of March 20, 2006, diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall declared solemnly: ‘There’s still bitter disagreement over invading Iraq. Was it justified or a disastrous miscalculation?’ The assertion that the alternative to the pro-war justification was to argue that the war was merely a ‘disastrous miscalculation’ offered a deeply personal, and in fact outrageous, view. The anti-war movement has always argued that the war was +not+ just a ‘miscalculation’, but a deliberate and criminal war of aggression. Many people, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and specialists in international law, believe that the invasion of Iraq was an illegal war of aggression. Many argue, along with the prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War, that the launching of a war of aggression is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

2. Find a topic or course of action about which you feel real passion. Joseph Campbell, the US mythologist, insisted that the antidote to being immersed in either a personal and political wasteland is to reject what we are supposed to do and be, and instead discover what it is we really love to do and be - because this is when we are truly alive. He explained: ‘My general formula for my students is “Follow your bliss.” Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it… In doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalises, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.’

3. Try to cultivate an enhanced capacity for compassion; not only for people we love; but also, crucially, for people towards whom we may feel indifference or even hate. Cogent arguments, buttressed by accurate facts, figures and references, are necessary but not sufficient. Try to avoid a cold, arid, even angry campaigning mentality. That way lies frustration, burnout and worse. Instead, try to develop the realisation that working for the benefit of others is far more satisfying, and far more meaningful, than working solely for our own benefit. For instance, we wanted to be full-time writers, but learned that writing when motivated by money and status is no different to working in any old corporate office; the sense of boredom and deadness are the same. We try to bear in mind that the corporate media is the source of some of the greatest, most lethal illusions of our age. We feel that challenging those illusions is of real value in efforts to combat human and animal suffering.

Comments on Rax Interview with Media Lens

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

  1. #101 Tony S 19 Jan 11

    Thanks Daniel,

    ’I take your point that not everything in the Mirror was Pilgeresque.’

    Which view did/does the Mirror prioritise? The view that Iraq was invaded for noble reasons or that it was a rapacious war crime? How did the paper resolve the tension between these competing views?

  2. #102 rippon 19 Jan 11

    Daniel (#96),

    You say, ’ ... the subject of Srebrenica, on which you do now seem to concede Media Lens promotes falsehoods.’

    You are mistaken; but I suppose such a mistake is consistent with your overall behaviour: you are often not aware of what you yourself are writing (notably: actually commending ML whilst asserting that you are criticising them), so it’s understandable that you would not be aware what someone else is actually saying.

    I have never, including on this thread, said anything about Srebrenica, and I have never challenged anyone (e.g. ML, Oliver Kamm) on the facts of Srebrenica. This is primarily because I don’t have sufficient knowledge on that subject.

    More confused nonsense from you ...

    ’Why whip up readers to email corporate hacks and ask them why they're so corporate? Media Lens says it's mainly to educate the public (as opposed to the hacks).’

    ’Whipping up readers’ bears no resemblance to ML behaviour at all. ’Asking corporate hacks why they’re so corporate’ is practically never the content or intent of emails from ML or their readers. ML don’t say they do that to educate the public; they don’t give any reason because they don’t claim to do either of those things.

    Once again, when you actually are criticising ML (rather than commending them), your criticism is premised on your own fabrications about what they actually do - a straw man argument.

    More nonsense: ’they [ML] use emails to try and tease out more examples of journalistic subservience to power’
    No, they use emails to challenge journalists and editors on the veracity (e.g. facts, framing, narrative) and perspective (that of citizens or power-brokers?) of their articles. Whenever ML might consider the reasons for the poor responses, ’subservience to power’ is one suggestion; others include background (e.g. class, education) which results in journalists not even able to conceive of questions to pose that would challenge the establishment (e.g. ’where do so many international lawyers go wrong in coming to the conclusion that invading Iraq was illegal?’).

    More nonsense: ’its methods ... amount to saying it's better not to reach a large audience than to give the corporate media a figleaf’
    Wrong (again). The ML position is that all journalists (e.g. Monbiot, Milne, Fisk, Pilger) ought to be aware of the dangers, e.g. ’figleaf cover’, of working with mainstream media. ML has never suggested that it’s ’better’ not to reach a large audience. One reason they celebrate the internet and exploiters of that medium (e.g. Wikileaks) is precisely because they +do+ reach a large audience.

    More commendation for ML from you: ’It would be far more constructive to devote more effort to promoting alternative reporting outlets’
    ML does exactly that. I have consumed a great deal from alternative outlets whose existence I only learned about through ML, e.g. Russia Today, Democracy Now!, The Real News Network, ZNet,, SpinWatch.

    ’howling impotently at The Man’ - again, would be helpful if you could provide some examples of ML behaviour that fits that description, otherwise it simply looks like another one of your straw man arguments.

    Now, even if one accepts your argument that ML could be expending their efforts more constructively, then so what? No matter how deluded they might be, it’s their site; they can waste their time how they choose. You yourself say that ’the wheels come off’. (If they’re just a couple of sad men, seeking recognition and notoriety on the internet because mainstream media will not indulge them, then they’re not worthy of your, or indeed anyone’s, attention.) So that begs the question, why does ML concern you and Oliver Kamm so much? Why not just leave the fools to indulge their delusions? So this brings me back to my original question (to Oliver Kamm, who mentioned Eric Hoffer, whose classic book is about mass-movements): does ML concern its critics so much because those critics fear that it might be growing in influence, potentially even into a mass-movement?

  3. #103 Tom Ash 19 Jan 11

    Message from NI: can we keep the debate civil?

    This is another reminder to everyone to keep the debate civil, and focused on the points being made rather than any attacks on your opponents.

  4. #104 Stephen 19 Jan 11

    Is anyone having problems seeing comments past #100?

    Not sure if it's a problem with Google Chrome, but I can't see past comment #100 - anyone else experiencing this? Or know how to rectify it?

    Please contact me on [email protected] if so.


    Stephen O

  5. #105 Thoth 19 Jan 11

    The ’mysterious’ ’macky’ (to use emersberger-style insinuation quotes - see #67) sounds like another of the Medialens editors' sockpuppets - others include ’Woofles’ and ’Wichan’ (pseudonyms which the ML-Davids have used at and the Guardian, respectively).

    Even macky's use of the term ’mysterious’ is straight from the ML eds' lexicon of ’useful adjectives for politely insinuating vague stuff when we don't have much of an argument’.

    I wonder how ’macky’/Edwards/Cromwell would react if the equivalent of the above-listed (#71) malicious smears against Monbiot were directed at Chomsky by a Guardian journalist? No doubt he/they would email the Guardian to congratulate them for their ’politeness’ and ’respectful criticism’. ;)

  6. #106 ciderpunx 19 Jan 11

    Second page of comments should now be visible

    @Stephen and others

    You should now be able to see the second page of comments as expected. We haven'd had an article with this many comments since redesigning our site, and we've now squashed the bug. Apologies for the annoyance.

  7. #107 Thoth 19 Jan 11

    I think it's also significant that ’macky’ and David Cromwell suddenly appeared when the point about John Pilger was raised (#98).

    This is an extremely sensitive issue for the Medialens editors (who seem very reluctant to criticise Pilger - something that Monbiot has previously noted). Pilger is basically contradicting what the Medialens editors say with respect to the Independent and Mirror (see #90). And if the Medialens editors and their supporters were at all consistent, they would certainly be ’debating’ this ’disagreement’ with Pilger. (Medialens has just issued a criticial two-part alert attacking some academics for a study whose findings precisely echo what Pilger has said about the Independent, Mirror and Guardian.)

    Why is Pilger immune from Medialens's criticism? Why the double standards? For more on this question, see here:

  8. #108 Daniel Simpson 19 Jan 11

    Rippon, I'll pass on the escalating rhetoric. I was urging Media Lens to expand their audience many years ago, while lobbying for alternative approaches. The discussion went nowhere fast, perhaps for the reason it doesn't with working journalists. That doesn't ’prove’ they're doing the right thing, however, though they're free to do as they please of course, and you seem to have contradicted your earlier thoughts on saying as much. As for Srebrenica, if you don't want to read up, fine. But it doesn't exactly show interest in fact-based analysis.

    Tony, let's leave it there. You're clearly fitting facts around a policy of kneejerk propaganda modelism. If you doubt it, try these other front pages:

    Or if you think they're figleafs, write to Pilger.

    As for macky, I'll leave him to make up what he likes. I quit my job as a journalist because I was tired of being required to slag off Serbs. I explain why here:

    All the best,

  9. #109 Williamtheb 19 Jan 11

    This is political journalism reduced to the absurd surely? If one prosyletises for the notion that N.A.T.O ( or ’Nazi/American Terror Organisation’), is not an anachronism, whose continued existence is not reliant on the coincident decline in the health of The United Nations, such minutiae may seem important. If one does not one might refuse to collude with the pro-N.A.T.O agenda by legitimising the debate, as the MediaLens editors appear to have done.

  10. #110 rippon 19 Jan 11

    Christ, Daniel,

    So much gibberish. It's difficult to avoid the conlcusion that you're a pseudo-intellect attempting to disguise your silly incoherent nature of your writing with a some bigger-than-average words.

    It takes some effort to make sense of your drivel:

    ’I'll pass on the escalating rhetoric.’
    Pass it on to who?
    Maybe you meant, 'I'll +take+ a pass on the escalating rhetoric.'

    ’I was urging Media Lens to expand their audience many years ago.’
    Why? They don't have any members. It is neither your place nor anyone else's to +urge+ them to do anything. Why do you want to +urge+ them to improve - do they feel like brothers or mates to you?
    Do you urge any newspapers to improve their practices along lines you consider wise? ML offer their take on things. Your place is to take it or leave it. If you take it, then you should compliment, criticise or challenge their output (or do nothing). Where on earth do you get the idea that it's appropriate for you to say, 'Look guys, this is what you should be doing instead/in-addition.'

    ’lobbying for alternative approaches’? - lobbying ML, I presume. Another idiotic idea. How did you 'lobby' ML - by threatening to terminate your paypal donations if they didn't improve their practices?

    ’The discussion went nowhere fast.’
    Of course it did, because there's nothing to discuss. It's their site, they do as they please. You take it or leave it.

    When discussion between ML and journalists 'goes nowhere fast', the reasons have nothing in common with your weird sense of discussion.

    ’they're free to do as they please of course, and you seem to have contradicted your earlier thoughts on saying as much.’
    This is pure meaningless drivel. What ’earlier thoughts’ are you referring to and where's the 'contradiction'?

    My lack of commenting about Srebrenica shows nothing except wisdom - one should not comment on subjects where one's knowledge is poor or zero. But you display your typically scatterbrain thinking by suggesting that it +does+ show something.

    Earlier in the thread, I used to think that I might simply be +not getting+ what you say. But by now it's clear: you're simply a verbiage factory pouring out your meandering thoughts. The only clear comprehensible thing you have ever had to offer is a challenge to ML regarding the facts about Srebrenica and the integrity of some people, e.g. IBC, George Monbiot. That's absolutely proper: ML, like all writers, +ought+ to be challenged on what they say. But that tiny proportion of issues are so key to you that you feel driven to criticise the whole ML project. Your problem, though, is that your thinking is so muddled that your 'criticisms' often fail (e.g. because they're actually commendations). I suggest that you stick simply with your specific challenges, e.g. Srebrenica (where you might also need to start challenging the BBC too now, it seems); that way you can come across as less confused about what it is you really want to say.

    All the best to you too,

  11. #111 Nobody 19 Jan 11

    This is the problem with perfectionism: if someone isn't right all the time, they must be a manipulative [email protected] and not to be trusted.

    Ask yourselves why so many of you see such dark agendas, rather than ordinary human imperfectness, in all of these media goings on?

    Daniel, the first half of what you said had me agreeing with every bit. The second half goes off-beam somewhat. Your insights into the profession are far more precise and useful than those of Chomsky/Hermann and MediaLens, though theirs are valuable too, particularly as discussion points for the general public, students, etc.

    Oliver, calm down and grow up.

    Davids, own up to your imperfections once in a while instead of trying to become superhuman. And leave the Buddhism alone from time to time; it's a model, it's not reality, and you can only live in reality itself, so if you want to be alive you have to get into reality directly rather than sit in your 'observer-mind'.

  12. #112 rippon 19 Jan 11

    Nobody (strange choice of name if you want people to read what you say),

    As I've tried to do with Daniel, I will seek some elucidation of what it is that you're saying ...

    ’Ask yourselves why so many of you see such dark agendas ... ’

    Well, no one, on any side, is 'seeing' things (that aren't there):

    If ML is guilty of genocide denial, then that is a dark agenda by definition. It isn't the case that Oliver Kamm 'sees' genocide denial as a dark agenda; it +is+ a dark agenda, so he rightly (if that is what he really believes of ML) charges ML with it. (Whether the charge is credible is a separate question.)

    If Kamm and Simpson are making charges (e.g. Kamm: 'threats of violence from ML supporters') that cannot be substantiated, then that is 'dark agenda' behaviour: ML et al don't need to 'see' it that way; it simply is.

    ’Oliver, calm down and grow up.’
    This is a pointless petition if you give no indication of when/how he has been hot-headed and immature.

    ’Davids, own up to your imperfections once in a while instead of trying to become superhuman.’
    Like Daniel Simpson's criticisms, this criticism is premised on ascribing behaviour to ML that simply isn't occurring. Can you give any examples of how the Davids show pretence at being ’superhuman’?

    Again, like Daniel Simpson, this is largely just flowery language and/or pointless verbiage, with hardly any substance.

    ’And leave Buddhism alone from time to time ... ’
    Again, this bears no relation to reality. ML 'leave Buddhism alone' for +most+ of the time: they hardly mention it. ML (often) has something to say, so they say it, the only way they know how - +their+ way (occasionally that happens to involve the mention of Buddhism). I (and you) can choose (or not) to read what they say. Buddhism happens not to interest me much, so I tend to skim/skip the parts where they mention it; it is the +reader's+ job to ’leave the Buddhism alone’; it is quite arrogant to tell a speaker how they should couch their message (e.g. 'don't mention Buddhism').

    Indeed, your whole post has an air of arrogance about it, whilst admonishing others for that very quality. This is a very +real+ conflict between people who are just as, most probably more, mature than you. The conflict includes charges of: threats of violence, lies, smears, genocide denial, celebrating the massacre of others (’dancing on graves’ - Kamm). If anyone believes any of the charges that they make, then it is nonsensical to advise, as you do, that they 'calm down, grow up, and appreciate the merits of the other side'.

    Your arrogance is in suggesting that this conflict is insignificant and, if only people could be more like you, then they too could rise above it. If someone smeared you on the internet, then I'm sure you would be deeply offended by the suggestion that you should not get angry, and, instead, learn to understand the merits of that person's point of view (even if you are a 'Nobody').

  13. #113 macky 20 Jan 11

    Poor Daniel, he really is a real life Walter Mitty fantasist; because of course I make everything up, and this is the first time he has played the Tag-Team Srebrenica Denial Smear with playmate Kamm;,news-comment,news-politics,bbc-is-not-impartial-independent-nor-even-particularly-truthful

    Etc, etc if you be bothered to look-up many other examples.

    And in an attempt at refuting his anti-Serb agenda, he bizarrely refers to a piece he wrote where it reveals, that instead of quitting his job over “slaging off the Serbs” as he had just posted, we learn that “I resigned from The New York Times to run a music festival in Belgrade”, not quite the same thing really !

    The referred to piece also reveals something else that I didn’t make up, namely his Serb baiting alter-ego, the infamous “Raoul Djukanovic”. That he deliberately chose a Yugoslav name, to stoke up, and to fool people all over the internet into believing that he spoke with an insiders knowledge, is indicative of what a sly & shallow person Mr Simpson really is.

  14. #114 Stephen_O 20 Jan 11

    Another question for Oliver Kamm

    Oliver Kamm invited Cromwell & Edwards to sue and provided details of his legal representative. Which made me think - Cromwell & Edwards have accused Kamm of ’inventing’. As Mr Kamm tells anyone who will listen, he is a ’working journalist’ (which is a foolish term for a journalist who is paid). To say that a ’working journalist’ invents is surely libellous. I say this not to cause trouble for Media Lens, but instead to ask Mr Kamm why he doesn't sue them for this comment? After all, as a ’working journalist’ it could be considered quite damaging to be cited publicly as ’inventing’. Mr Kamm also has personal and professional resources that Media Lens simply do not possess.

    So, Mr Kamm, why don't you engage the services of your legal representative and take action?

  15. #115 joabbess 20 Jan 11

    Daniel Simpson is clear as a bell, and human


    You write, ’...Daniel Simpson is a sly, and more credible opponent for [MediaLens] than the clearly demented Kamm, as he comes across as so reasonable in the deluge of polite words that he so carefully crafts, but actually say very little...’

    I find it unhelpful that you cannot recognise Daniel Simpson's clarity and patience in explaining his points.

  16. #116 macky 20 Jan 11

    So sorry about that Jo, but at least I recognise his other “qualities”; perhaps you should ask yourself why you must often find yourself feeling perplexed by other peoples impressions of Daniel “Raoul” Simpson.

    Oh, and thanks for confirmation that Simpson is human, but I would advise seeking medical attention if you keep hearing bells whereas others hear only a deafening cacophony of weasel worded twaddle.

  17. #117 jamie 23 Jan 11

    This has made extraordinary reading and I think it may be a record of comments for New Internationalist. I am certainly not such a consummate media analyst as the many up here and will leave the ins and outs of Medialens to those of you who are.

    I'm here just to pipe up a little about the context of this page... a school textbook that is currently being used in schools right across the UK. One which has received fairly spectacular positive reviews from the likes of TES, from teachers and students UK wide and, bizarrely, from public figures such as Jarvis Cocker, Gavin Turk and Thom York.

    Medialens are extremely busy people yet they took the time to give us an interview for the book, they were exceptionally supportive and helpful and I am deeply grateful to them.

    Whatever the above detractors have to say is really of little consequence to the context. The fact is, young people using our textbook had no idea that an alternative media existed and now they do, and they are very grateful for that fact. In the Toolkit we draw attention to many other sources of non-mainstream media and of course, draw attention to sources of media analysis such as Medialens. We have not done this at the cost of missing out on the more traditional sources of media, we have just added a choice that wasn't there originally.

    If you look at the Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit, you will see that we were very careful not to be partisan but let's face it, most young people are rarely given the tools to question the 'received' mainstream take on issues.

    I assume all of you are in your forties and fifties and naturally, all of you feel that you are able to analyse and then shape your own opinions. These skills are not readily available in secondary schools. The fact that Medialens gave us the time to provide such a compelling interview is already having powerful results in the way young people engage with the world around them and, more poignantly, how they come to understand the world around them.

    A nation of young people who grow up never questioning anything is a nation set for some pretty cruel realisations (More often than not, when it's too late) however, we aimed to facilitate young people with the tools to question assumptions, to see issues from many different points of view, to understand bias, manipulation and the abuse of statistics. How to be consummate critical thinkers.

    The fact that Medialens are now one of many new tools for the digital natives of today to understand their world is something we are proud of. And once again, we thank the for helping us and support their work completely.

    Those of you who are supporters of medialens or who are simply supporters of the work to create an informed and empowered generation of young people, I recommend that you support the continuance of the subject 'Citizenship' remaining as part of the national curriculum. A good start would be to join Democratic Life:

    Wishing all free thinkers the best and calling on you to help keep the next generation as free thinkers too.


  18. #118 Stephen_O 24 Jan 11

    Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit

    Critical thinking is absolutely crucial for anyone but, perhaps, especially for developing minds. I absolutely remember being a young man watching coverage of the run up to the Iraq war and thinking that there must be +something+ to it. After all, the UK doesn't just invade countries... does it?

    In the words of Stiff Little Fingers ’Don't believe them, don't believe them, question everything you're told’.

    For any young people reading this, Oliver Kamm provided a wonderful example of establishment thinking - and attempts at stifling oppostion.

  19. #119 Oliver Kamm 24 Jan 11

    Jamie, it's an essential part of education to question and think critically. But denial of historical evidence is something else, as science teachers contending with biblical creationists would be able to tell you. Unfortunately, however affable you may have found Cromwell and Edwards, the belong in the category of deniers. You'll notice that at no point have they answered the question I put more than a hundred comments ago, namely the number of victims of the Srebrenica genocide. We know for a fact, with even greater certainty than we know about the Holocaust (as the human remains have been found), that more than 8,000 Bosniaks were killed. Yet Cromwell and Edwards maintain that Edward Herman is ’perfectly entitled’ to deny this. That puts Media Lens in the same camp as Holocaust deniers. I'm sorry to say something ugly, but that sort of propaganda isn't a genteel debating point or a matter of opinion.

  20. #120 Stephen_O 24 Jan 11

    Yet another question for Oliver Kamm

    Like the Duracell bunny, Oliver Kamm has boundless energy for repetition but is ultimately pointless and irritating.

    In November 2009, Kamm reiterated his usual gambit about Media Lens being a “reliable conduit for genocide denial”, along with some other claims. To this, Media Lens retorted “Kamm is inventing”. Kamm, as he said earlier in this comments thread, has a legal representative. The question arises, why doesn’t Kamm, a (presumably) wealthy man with existing legal representation, take action over this comment? As I have said previously, a “working journalist” being accused of “inventing” is a serious matter. Using Kamm’s rationale, this suggests that he is worried that the resulting decision would not be to his liking.

    So, Oliver, why not put your legal representation where your metaphorical mouth is?

  21. #121 Tony Shenton 25 Jan 11

    Mr Kamm knows full well the question that he's put to Cromwell and Edwards is pime example of the 'Have you stopped beating your wife?' fallacy.

    It's obvious why he wants to distract readers from the important points they've made about the media in the interview.

  22. #122 joabbess 25 Jan 11

    What and who influences the Media ?

    When talking to friends, acquaintances and relatives about the Media, I try to throw them the question ’what (or who) influences the Media ?’ and see how far they can see into the machine with the knowledge that they have already.

    I often then ask about how the UK got drawn into a ’war’ against Iraq, and see if they can identify particular points of propaganda, the classic one being the demonisation of Saddam Hussein. Did you see him in his ’trial’ on telly ? Did he look to you like he was evil and inhuman ? Were any of the Iraqi children killed during the invasion and subsequent occupation evil or inhuman or violently opposed to ’our way of life’ ? What is an ’insurgent’ ? Who is an enemy ?

    I find this analysis by Anne Morelli very helpful in trying to work out how news may have been massaged for our consumption :-

    Just to say, I wholeheartedly reject the use of violence for any purpose so I cannot align myself to her political position completely :-

  23. #123 Joe Emersberger 25 Jan 11

    From a Medialens alert linked to in this discussion a few times now:

    ’...a leading European human rights lawyer, told us: ’If this Kamm chap can't provide any evidence for his claim, it really is a most damnable libel.’ (Korff to Media Lens, November 19, 2009) And of course we have never made any such claim regarding Srebrenica. On the contrary, as discussed, we have repeatedly affirmed that there +was+ a massacre.

    In a series of exchanges on the Times Higher Education website we asked Kamm to provide a quote from us in support of his allegation. Unusually for him, he failed to reply.’

    Kamm owes Medialens an apology of course. Much more importantly, He owes millions of Iraqi refugees an apology for the war he has gone out of his way to facilitate as a propagandist. He owes the people who died as a result of the war - and their families - who number in the hundreds of thousands - an apology as well. However, it is obvious that deceny from Kamm is extremely unlikely.

  24. #124 Williamtheb 25 Jan 11

    Apologies, previously unable to login and post this (first appeared ’ML’ message-board)

    Despite the impatience and frutration that should have been evident from my earlier post I should expand on my argument (for what it's worth).
    Firstly, why cannot one readily understand what the point of this continuing dispute may be? I suspect that the blame may be in both camps.
    It was no coincidence that I pointed out the continuing absurdity of copy creating Anti-Zionism within the ’liberal media’ when I first began to post on The MediaLens. Adherence to some unwritten code which states; ’attacking the Pro-NATO agenda plays too far into the court of ’The Zionist International’’ only highlights the degree of adherence to the political ideology of the ’old Labour’ left/radical left that remains within the credo of many a modern ’liberal’ journalist.
    The Srebrenica massacre was created by the ’Pro-NATO’ agenda. How is this too radical a concept for The MediaLens editors to expound? I do not know. One may sympathise with the Bosnian Serbs but such is only a geo-political judgement not a disciminatory one. Was Neurenburgh the right thing to do? Did the death of murderers serve world peace or not? Many would argue that allowing the perpetrators to live out their lives in the shadow of their crimes may have been a wiser solution. The process of justice was in any-case obstructed by the Machiavellian pragmatism displayed by The Allies at the time in their swift aquisition of NAZI scientists who were assimilated into The Allies' national populations regardless of their war-time criminality.The precedent that Nuremberg set is NOT ONE we should allow to remain.
    Nevertheless one would imagine that those responsible for the war-crimes on both sides in Yuogoslavia should be held to account for them, however the illegal intervention of NATO in the conflict invaldiates any such accountability. This process (should it continue to take place within an ’isolated bubble’), will never be anything but a negative influence on the cause of international justice. If ’international justice’ is to have any meaning at all those who deliberately engineered the conditions for the Yugoslavian conflict should also be brought to book.

  25. #125 Oliver Kamm 26 Jan 11

    Mr O'Neill, Media Lens have in fact published far worse things about me than that, and have hurriedly removed them from their site on realising the extent of their legal liability (which, BTW, doesn't disappear just because it's removed from a site). One of their greater fiascos was to publish a long piece from Edward Herman and David Peterson that vanished (to the authors' disgust) on Cromwell and Edwards's belatedly realising that they'd repeated statements about my friend Ed Vulliamy of the Guardian that had already been judged in the High Court to be libellous and had cost a magazine hundreds of thousands of pounds. The answer to your question is that neither Ed nor I pursue small pressure groups or bloggers through the courts. The ML regular Neil Clark (whom Cromwell and Edwards revealingly count a ’Balkans specialist’, which tells you something of their knowledge of the Balkans) attempted to sue me for libel in 2006, when I exposed him for giving false information about source material and refused to back down, and my lawyers had the case struck out as an abuse of process. Yet even then, I did not go after Clark for my own legal costs, because I don't pursue little people through the courts, even when their behaviour warrants it. That should answer your question.

    Mr Shenton, the number of victims of the Srebrenica massacre is an empirical issue, not a question-begging proposition. Cromwell and Edwards can't give the answer because they're committed to the propaganda of Herman, who denies the massacre of 8,000 Bosniaks as well as the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. That's the same as Holocaust denial - same methods and same arguments. Those journalists they approach by deception (note the instruction on their media alerts that letters should be blind-copied to them- an exhortation to dishonesty, just as you failed to disclose to Chomsky that you intended to publish his letter) ought to know that Media Lens stands for that sort of thing.

    Mr Emersberger, we've been through this. It's a measure of ML's haplessness, incidentally, that they can't tell the difference, or doesn't think it matters, between a human rights lawyer and a libel lawyer, and it's also a measure of their and your indifference to free speech that you keep making these threats, which have no effect on me. I will defend my right to fair comment, and no libel court would take issue with my depiction of Media Lens's propaganda, which denies the massacre of 8,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica. Note that Cromwell and Edwards absolutely refuse to acknowledge this. They can't, because they deny the war crimes of the Serbs even when the body parts of the victims have been found and identified. That is morally unconscionable, and it ought to be brought up whenever Media Lens starts its harassment of journalists.

  26. #126 Tony S 26 Jan 11

    ’Media Lens have in fact published far worse things about me than that, and have hurriedly removed them from their site on realising the extent of their legal liability (which, BTW, doesn't disappear just because it's removed from a site).’

    Mr Kamm, do you remember when you approved a racist comment on your blog by one of your supporters about Edward Herman? Sadly, It would probably still be there if I hadn't complained!

  27. #127 Stephen_O 26 Jan 11

    Oliver Kamm and legal action

    Mr Kamm, you clearly see Media Lens as important. The amount of time and energy that you devote to smearing them is indicative of this - only Chomsky seems to take up more of your time online. You'll forgive me for thinking that your reasons for not taking action are only due to ML being ’little people’.

    On a different note, and being well aware that this is irrelevant and not a little bit immature, it amused me greatly that a man of your diminutive stature who appears to wear shoe lifts a la Phil Spector, should refer to anyone as ’little people’.

  28. #128 Toby 26 Jan 11

    Stephen, the moderators of the site have asked if people could focus on the points being made, keep the debate civil and refrain from personal attacks. Perhaps you could bear this in mind next time you make a post - would hate to see you get banned.

  29. #129 Stephen_O 26 Jan 11


    Mr Moles, my comments were measured and relevant.

    ’Before an Empire's eyes
    The traitor claims his price.
    What need of further lies?’

  30. #130 Oliver Kamm 26 Jan 11

    Mr Shenton, I have no such recollection because racist comments are among the very few sentiments that are banned outright under the policies of my blog. Your own banning (one of, I think, only three people to whom a ban applied) was for the different reason that you posted under successive aliases and then lied about doing so. I err very, very far on the side of allowing even highly abusive comments, especially those that are directed against me (as Rippon Gupta has recalled in this thread), and on balance - but only on balance - thought that I'd gone too far in allowing one particular comment about Herman. I don't indulge in any such remarks myself about Herman and his admirers Cromwell and Edwards: it's enough to point out that they're comparable to David Irving, except that Irving does know his source material and is a capable linguist.

    Mr O'Neill, your inference is entirely false, and replicates the self-regarding comment by Cromwell and Edwards in their book Newspeak. If Media Lens were important, then I wouldn't need to spend time pointing out what they stand for. It's because they operate by subterfuge - urging blind-copying, failing to disclose that they are a pressure group, and publishing private correspondence without permission - that I take the opportunity to point out to my fellow journalists who they are and what they stand for, because my colleagues are unlikely to have heard of them and might mistake them for genuine inquirers. I don't have an absolutist objection to libel laws, but I've never had cause to use them, and would be highly unlikely to use them against such people as bloggers or obscure pressure groups. My libel lawyers are there to defend me from threats, and have a record of total success in that regard. I remain suitably complacent about the consequences to me of pointing out that Media Lens is a conduit for genocide denial and antisemitism, and a promoter of material that in method and argument is indistinguishable from Holocaust denial.

  31. #131 Stephen_O 26 Jan 11

    Mr Kamm, back in the good old days before your blog went under the paywall, like a post post-modern Banksy, you would 'tag' Media Lens ’supporters’ with a cute little quote about ML being ’a reliable conduit for genocide’, usually adding the person's full name. Interestingly, this was the only way I was able to contact some other ’Media Lensers’. In doing this, your extreme interest in ML was undoubtedly noticed by others.

    Your analysis of what ML stands for is rejected by everyone except for Daniel Simpson. You are the only person to say you have received death threats. Your commentary about ML bearing responsibility for the behaviour of a tiny minority of correspondents has been discredited, not least by your standards. Bizarrely, you have started using the fact that ML ask to be blind-copied into E-mails as ’evidence’ of subterfuge and dishonesty. This is fantastical stuff.

    To summarise, you spend a lot of your time focusing on ML. You have described ML as ’Chomskyite’ and your obsession with Noam Chomsky is well known. Perhaps ML is a matter of such burning urgency for you because Professor Chomsky has dismissed your criticism of him easily and with elegance and you view ML as Chomsky-by-proxy?

    To paraphrase Albert Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You accuse ML of genocide denial, using literally the same methods and arguments you have used publicly on many other occasions, Daniel Simpson agrees with you and ML point to where the discussion has been had many times before.

    For 2011, perhaps you could try a new tactic?

  32. #132 Keith Granger 26 Jan 11

    Well well well

    Haha, ’little people’ - brilliant Mr Kamm, brilliant! :-D

    (Is that the phrase used by the BP guy over the oil spill off the US coast?)

  33. #133 Oliver Kamm 27 Jan 11

    The term I've used about Media Lens is, as far as I remember, not ’Chomskyite’ but ’sub-Chomskyite’. Prof Chomsky does understand and insist on the conventions of civilised debate, which are systematically ignored by Cromwell and Edwards. I've referred them many times to Chomsky's well-known and publicly stated objections to the practice of publishing private correspondence. I entirely agree with him, yet Media Lens treats Chomsky with the contempt of publishing emails from him without securing his permission or even telling him.

    That's wrong when done to Chomsky and it's wrong when done to journalists. When Cromwell wrote to Bronwen Maddox at The Times, he gave no indication of even being from a pressure group (contrary to what Wilby said, Cromwell wrote from a private email address), and his publishing Bronwen's good-faith reply elicited a stream of abusive and threatening emails from ML supporters including threats of violence, which Cromwell and Edwards have since lied about. My role in this saga is merely to let my fellow professionals know who these people are, the dishonest methods they emply, the nature of their sources (which in the subjects I'm competent to comment on could hardly be less distinguished, such as Howard Zinn and Neil Clark, whom I exposed for direct fakery), and the principles they stand for. An organisation that believes anyone can be ’perfectly entitled’ to deny genocide because it's politically convenient ought to be called for what it is.

  34. #134 David Cromwell 27 Jan 11

    Hi Oliver

    We notice that when your smears hit a brick wall you disappear for a while and then bounce back making exactly the same claims. Presumably you're hoping people will fail to notice your failure to respond.

    On October 18, 2009, on the Times Online website, you wrote of us regarding the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica: ‘they dance on a mass grave that they claim isn't there because [Edward] Herman told them so’.

    We asked you to supply a quote by us in support of your accusation. Why didn’t you reply? Where is the quote that prompted you to make that claim?

    You write of ‘the harassment - including threats of violence, which Cromwell and Edwards then lied about in their book Newspeak - directed by ML supporters against my friend Bronwen Maddox.)’

    In 2008, Alastair Brett, then legal manager of News International’s Times Newspapers, claimed that then Times journalist Bronwen Maddox had received ‘vexatious and threatening’ emails from Media Lens readers, which constituted ‘harassment’. But Brett made no mention that these emails included 'threats of violence' and none were ever sent to us.

    Former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby investigated the claims and wrote about them in the Guardian:

    ‘Maddox tells me she received ‘dozens of emails, many abusive or threatening’ and ‘they [Media Lens] stir up some very nasty people’. However, the only example specifically quoted by her or Brett was from a man who claims to be ‘the second coming of Jesus Christ’. ‘You have until 4 pm Monday to respond ... or I will deem you to be fired,' he warned Maddox. He has emailed dozens of press and TV journalists and Media Lens itself in similarly alarming terms.’

    If The Times had examples of emails threatening violence to Maddox, why did it not make them available to Wilby, and to us, when it was threatening legal action in 2008?

    We discussed the issue of publishing private emails from corporate journalists with Noam Chomsky. With typical honesty, he said he was unsure but agreed that we had a point. He certainly doesn’t agree with you. We've discussed our argument here:

    DE and DC

  35. #135 Daniel Simpson 27 Jan 11

    RE: comment 134


    You ’claim’ it ’isn't there’ by posting Ed Herman's work on your website, then defending it.

    He says the massacre death toll of 8,000 Muslims (80 percent of whose corpses have been exhumed and DNA-matched, with the rest still ’co-mingled remains’) [1] is ’incompatible with the basic arithmetic of Srebrenica numbers before and after July 1995’. [2]

    His source for this untrue claim is a 1995 press release. [3] He ignores all the subsequent evidence that refutes his misreading of it, including all the body parts found in mass graves. These have been mounting up for more than a decade, along with testimony on how they were murdered and buried (none of which Noam Chomsky disputes, as you should know, having lobbied The Guardian on the subject). [4]

    Nevertheless, Herman wrote in 2007 that the ’8,000 figure for the missing, now executed, males of Srebrenica has never been revised from its initial very problematic level. It has remained firm and unchallengeable, despite the fact that nothing close to confirming evidence has been forthcoming.’ [5]

    It plainly has been. He just ignores it, because his ’facts were being fixed around the policy’ [6] of denial. Whatever his justification, it's propaganda to whitewash a war crime. Yet rather than state unequivocally that Herman is wrong, you say he's ’perfectly entitled’ [7] to make things up.

    Unless you want to be ’smeared’ by having these facts pointed out, I suggest you study the evidence, and disown Herman's fabrications, instead of posting them without comment, as in the past.

    It might not literally be true that you ’dance on a mass grave’, in the sense that no one has a photo of you doing so. But the metaphor is no less apt than your statement that journalists ’really do have blood on their hands.’ [8]

    I presume you defer to Herman because you admire him. [9] So much for fact-based analysis; I thought you were supposed to be free thinkers.

    Best wishes,












  36. #136 Stephen_O 27 Jan 11

    Oliver Kamm & Daniel Simpson

    Mr Kamm, thanks for correcting; ’sub-Chomskyite’ is correct. Hopefully this heralds a new era of attention to detail from you. In private correspondence and on this thread you appear to have been getting quite sloppy lately.

    Mr Simpson, your comments are almost beyond parody. The corporate media, to borrow a phrase, by commission and omission, helped to publicise totally incorrect material and directly influence public opinion about the necessity for war. A climate was created where an invasion took place and hundreds of thousands were killed. To be party to that is to metaphorically have blood on your hands. The corporate media reaches tens of millions. Media Lens have a much smaller audience. Perhaps more free publicity from your pal Oliver Kamm can remedy this.

  37. #137 Daniel Simpson 27 Jan 11


    Reaching a smaller audience doesn't give Media Lens licence to distort. They say they seek to correct for this tendency in the corporate media, not to replicate it. Why don't you challenge them for doing so?

    Of course many more people have been killed in Iraq since 2003 than in the Balkans throughout the 1990s. But this has no bearing on the point, which is that neither statement is +literally+ true.

    The rest of what I posted speaks for itself. Follow up the references if you doubt that.


  38. #138 Stephen_O 27 Jan 11

    Mr Simpson, we were talking about metaphors. To dance on someone's grave, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, means to celebrate someone's demise. I don't think anyone could seriously accuse Media Lens of doing this (Oliver Kamm will, but no-one takes him seriously). To have blood on your hands means to ’be responsible for someone's death; to be guilty of causing someone's death’. The corporate media clearly bear some responsibility for peddling lies and, as I said, creating an environment where an invasion was carried out. To compare the two is churlish.

    Out of interest, if ML did disassociate themselves with what Hermon said, would you stop appearing on every thread that they did, backing up Oliver Kamm?

    Likewise, Mr Kamm, if ML disassociated themselves, would you stop your campaign of public vilification? Or would you press on with your supine and unintentionally amusing claims of dishonesty and subterfuge via the BCC function?


  39. #139 Daniel Simpson 27 Jan 11

    Thanks Stephen.

    I have no connection whatever with Oliver Kamm, other than a common interest in this subject, on which I used to report from eastern Bosnia.

    I'm asking Media Lens to stick to well-sourced facts, as I've been doing whenever they don't, because I think that matters. Most of the time, they take more care to be accurate, which was what interested me in their work when I discovered it (via ZNet) more than a decade back:

    When they don't overstate their case, I find it persuasive. It's a shame to undermine it as they do sometimes.


  40. #140 Oliver Kamm 27 Jan 11

    Mr Cromwell & Mr Edwards, so far from ’hoping people will fail to notice’ my not responding to you, I stated that fact explicitly, along with the reasons for it, in this thread. You can go back and check this, and then I'd be obliged if you'd remember it.

    I have in the past done you the courtesy of discussing at length your views on a historiographical subject chosen by you, namely the Pacific War, when you unwisely lambasted a journalist who turned out to be much better informed than you:

    That was enough. It's extraordinary that you consider you're entitled to be treated attentively, or conversed with at all, when you declare that someone is ’perfectly entitled’ to deny the documented facts, including the identified body parts, of the greatest atrocity in Europe since WW2. Not with any reputable person, you're not. I restrict my role, when Media Lens comes to my attention, of explaining to my profession who you are, how you behave and what you stand for. If you have a problem with that, then I've already told you what recourse you have.

  41. #141 Stephen_O 27 Jan 11

    Welcome back, Mr Kamm. Another question for you.

    Mr Kamm, you described The Lancet medical journal as a ’campaigning political magazine’. You are, as you constantly refer to yourself, a ’working journalist’. You use your position as leader writer for The Times to espouse your support for wars that cause widespread death and destruction. Using your own analogy, does this make The Times a pro-war, campaigning political publication?

  42. #142 Rhisiart Gwilym 28 Jan 11

    A few of you are still feeding the troll, I see. Get it straight about Comical Olly --

    He's either a malicious liar, or a psychopath, or some horrible combination. What he's not, at any price, is an honest commentator who should be taken seriously.

    Having watched his deeply dishonest modus operandi for a while, I publish statements from time to time, such as the paragraph above, to alert people to his dishonesty and utter untrustworthiness.

    I always invite both Olly and Times Newspapers to sue me for defamation, if they dare. (Oh, if only! ) Neither the ridiculous Olly, nor his employers ever respond to this invitation. That's how seriously they take this direct challenging of their integrity.

    Olly is a prize smear artist. He continues to smear the Medialens Editors compulsively, despite being repeatedly called on his lies and distortions, and having his accusations trashed over and over again.

    I say again: This is not a man to take seriously; a liar, or a psychopath, or some nasty combination; dedicated, it seems, to attempting to do damage to people who are actually trying with genuine integrity to tell truth about important but contentious matters of public interest.

    Don't feed this ludicrous troll!

  43. #143 immoral stalk 30 Jan 11

    Kamm Corrected

    Kamm 38: ’I stand open to correction on this, but I believe that Milosevic's campaign of ethnic expulsion was thus the most comprehensive and extreme anywhere in Europe since WW2.’

    The Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII were much larger in number and were permenant. The refugee crisis in Kosovo 1999 was due to all ethinc groups fleeing a warzone rather than ethnic expulsion. Hardly ’comprehensive and extreme’.

  44. #144 Daniel Simpson 31 Jan 11

    Re: comment 117

    Thanks Jamie. I'm all for encouraging free thinking, and I think the toolkit's an excellent idea. How about another for citizen journalists? Whether it's aimed at schools or readers of New Internationalist, I'd be happy to help if I can.

    As for the discussions above, I've tried to clarify my comments in this posting:

    It's as long as a two-part Media Lens alert... But it includes some links to useful resources, and more ideas on solutions, along with an outline proposal to redefine news agendas.

    All the best,

  45. #145 rippon 01 Feb 11

    Daniel Simpson: ’I'd be happy to help if I can.’

    Not likely, Daniel. Your verbal diarrhoea is singularly +unhelpful+.

    Bear in mind that NI's toolkit is aimed at school children. I'm a very mature patient adult, but even I can't sustain the stamina required for wading through your sh!t. You produce so much sh!t yourself that you can't seriously expect readers (worse, teenage readers), on top of that, to follow the countless links that you fatuously sprinkle your verbiage with.

    - your pseudo-intellect nature revealing itself again: the countless links show that you read a great deal, but what is the point of being so 'well-read' if you can't draw on that to produce a clear cogent argument?

    A previous poster had you to a tee: real-life Walter Mitty.

    Now, I have seen first-hand what it's like in a class full of teenagers, so I can tell you: in the highly unlikely event that anyone would attempt to use you as a classroom resource, well then you're lucky that it would just be printed materials rather than you yourself going into classrooms to present. At least with printed materials, the glaze-eyed students could bin it or doodle on it or roll it into balls for throwing at each other. If it were actually you, you'd be ripped to shreds because teenagers have no patience for people who presume to teach them but are actually transparent narcissists.

    There is much about your long tedious self-indulgent blog entry (that you have linked above) that is pure tripe (or worse, dishonest about ML), but I'll draw attention (again) to one peculiar aspect of your thinking:

    You say, ’Instead of mounting two-man operations, why don’t the likes of Media Lens [blah blah blah]?’
    This really is a very curious train of thought - to wonder why someone doesn't pursue what seems to you an obviously better direction. They (the ML editors) are both very mature, highly educated people who each have decades of life-experience in reflecting-on and choosing activity that best suits them. When you pose the bizarre question of why they don't instead do something that you perceive as a good idea, it begs the obvious question: why don't +you+ do those things yourself (instead of wondering about others)? After all, you yourself, or you + your mates (Shone and Lippman, I think their names are), constitute similar manpower to ML. You could just shut-the-f*ck-up for a change, forget about ML, and then simply devote all your energy to creating what you ’want’ them to aspire to - another bizarre idea: 'wanting' someone else to possess an aspiration of your choosing instead of simply having that aspiration for yourself. As I've said previously: why do you ’want’ this? Do you feel that ML are your brothers or sons or something - that you would +care+ what their aspirations in life are?

    The bottom line, though, is that, no matter how deluded and distorting you may think ML is, at least there's a lot going on over there. The message board is a very busy place, whereas there's almost nothing happening on your blog (apart from your endless waffle); they have published two books (so far), but there seems to be nothing under 'Daniel Simpson' on Amazon; they regularly publish juicy alerts that many people subscribe to, whereas you have to pop up on others' (e.g. NI's) blogs to get attention.

    (Similalry with Oliver Kamm: his Times blog is now a dead zone; and all I can find for him on Amazon is some pamphlet-length book that seeks to defend the Iraq holocaust.)

    There's quite a sweet irony in the way you choose to end:
    ’ ... to make those changes ... In my case, that means learning to be humbler, to fight without fighting the source of inspiration. And so, ... I ... resolve to start constructively anew’ [by ’finding yourself’ through yoga]. The irony is that you poke fun at the ’the Bodhisattvas of Media Lens’ and then have the gall to come out with this embarrassing tripe.

    Forget about writing, Daniel (this will cure your verbal diaorrhoea condition). Revert to your previous lifestyle, which was equally 'productive', but without the delusions:
    ’By 2004, I had more time than I knew what to do with. I was unemployed and depressed, achieving little more most days than smoking cannabis’

  46. #146 jamie 03 Feb 11

    Thanks Daniel Simpson for the offer of help and for the link. The Toolkit does have several lead ins to citizen journalism, facilitating all the skills needed for young people to become one themselves. And this is already happening. We are being contacted by young citizen journalists who have used the Toolkit as a way in to this activity.

    Other than Medialens, we have also included interviews with one of the founders of Indymedia and one of the founders of Undercurrents, all put in counterbalance with the mainstream media field. We also have interviews with Jon Harris, one of the leading film editors in the country (Snatch, X Men and 127 hours) as well as film maker and campaigner Franny Armstrong (10:10, McLibel and Age of Stupid). This has helped facilitate young people with the ability to be erudite citizenship journalists, practically engaged in how to film and cover events that matter to them. There are already several front pages in local papers that have come about through people using the Toolkit already.

    The first step to helping the Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit would be to buy it! We are up against a near monopoly on school textbooks by three transnational publishing corps. Nobody has created a textbook like this before and certainly nobody has approached the kind of material we have approached. I have taught for 23 years and I know what works in the classroom. When young people have their hands on the book, they are invariably completely absorbed and inspired. But we need to get the Toolkit in the hands of as many young people as we can, outside of school as well as inside school.

    And it is not only for young people. The Toolkit is currently being used by a Scottish mother saving rural schools, she appeared on BBC Scotland last week and has been front page news several times in Scottish papers. She contacts us regularly to update us, always pointing out that the Toolkit has been her singular tool to achieving what she has so far achieved (The Scottish education secretary is now on her side too). The Toolkit is also being used by two different community groups of young people in Great Yarmouth, campaigning to save their youth club (In which they succeeded) and to campaign for a dedicated 'free running' site in their local park (They have already met with their local MP and had the OK for this project). My point is, the Toolkit applies to all forms of active citizenship and if anyone reading this can think of people who may benefit from the Toolkit, please send the link around:

    Mr Simpson, your link serves as an excellent counter piece to the ML section in the Toolkit, as we encourage young people to always see an issue from as many different points of view as possible. And do not assume that this set of comments has not now become a resource for them as well!

    What is a little stunning is the fact that there is much bun fighting going on up here! Even downright insulting behaviour! I feel that some of you ought to be put on detention and I should ring your responsible adult to call them in for a chat ;-)

    Nevertheless, that will make for excellent reading for those students who access this comment stream and thanks to everyone who has posted up here. It shows very clearly the walls that critical thinking can reach and how personality/ego is deeply enmeshed in 'opinion' at times. For many young people, having an edified opinion, backed up by firm critical thinking, is a major achievement but now, they can become aware of what happens to people who have got to that place but have differing conclusions! Pretty nasty stuff can occur! But lively, passionate, meaningful none the less.

    We want a generation of informed, empowered and enabled young voices. In our opinion, their generation is the most important to be 'switched on' despite the fact that there is much within society to switch them off. Recent youth led campaigning, particularly of the wired generation, is making the news worldwide, from Cairo to Paris, to the streets of major cities in the UK. For the Rax ideal, things are looking good!

    It is essential to recognise that young people reaching their teens now are digital natives, they are able to absorb and disseminate information in a far more fluid and lightening fast way than us 'digital immigrants'. It is their natural aptitude. However, this kind of dialogue that this comments page represents is a fine example of how things need to be considered deeply first, that there is no swiftly reached 'right' or 'wrong' answer and that personality or ego definitely come into play! You have opened up a lot of doors for young people. Thank you kindly!

    Thank you kindly.

    Jamie Kelsey

  47. #147 Toby 20 Feb 11

    I wondered if Mr. Kamm had any comment to make (as the founder of a hedge fund and financial services group) about research that shows that investors are selected from people in the population with defective brains, since people with a complete lack of empathy perform better as investors?

  48. #158 Wekki 10 Dec 11

    As Oliver Kamm said around comment 100 with such a false apology, what a train wreck of a comment thread!
    What endless posturing, as if the merit of journalism was little more than the reputation of journalists.
    @NI this is why publications close comment threads. Some forums have experimented with automated troll controlling heuristics that ban certain overused words...'smear' 'Srebenica'... to keep conversations interesting.

  49. #159 No10 14 Jan 12

    This discussion is OFF TOPIC - what about the content of this article?

  50. #161 Tymnb 08 Feb 12

    Rax Interview with Media Lens -- New Internationalist

    Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thank you Nonetheless I am experiencing concern with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting equivalent rss drawback? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

...previous comments  

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Popular tags

All tags

The Books Blog

The Books Blog