Filtering the news


‘If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before 24 hours my occupation would be gone. The business of a journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press... Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.’

_*John Swinton* of the_ New York Times _toasting his profession before the New York Press Club in 1953, quoted by [](

1st Filter – Business interests of owner companies

‘You’ve certainly led one of the most extraordinary lives of the 20th century and it’s been entirely of your own making. Can you accept the accolade that you are probably the most remarkable Australian in about 200 years?’

_*Terry McCrann* interviewing *Rupert Murdoch* in the Rupert Murdoch-owned_ Adelaide Sunday Mail.

2nd filter - Selling audiences to advertisers

‘The Coca-Cola company requires that all insertions are placed adjacent to editoral that is consistent with each brand’s marketing strategy... We consider the following subjects to be inappropriate: hard news, sex, diet, political issues, environmental issues... If an appropriate positioning option is not available, we reserve the right to omit our ad from that issue.’

_Memo from *Coca Cola’s* ad agency to magazines._

3rd Filter - Sourcing information from agents of power

‘The most cited economic experts in the international press are from free-market think-tank the Institute for International Economics.’

‘PR Newswire. _The leading source of news from corporations worldwide for media.’_

Mark Laity, former BBC war correspondent, got so close to his sources that he now works for NATO.

PR Newswire _publicity._

4th Filter - Flak, pressure on journalists, and threats of legal action

Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired by Fox TV in Florida over an investigative report on Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone in milk. The General Manager of Fox told them: ‘We paid $3 billion for these television stations, we'll decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is.’


‘The most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the “best” sources.’

_*Walter Karp* of_ Harpers _magazine._

5th Filter - Ideological belief in free markets

‘Buy Nothing Day is in opposition to the current economic policy in the United States.’

_US news channel_ CBS _rejecting_ Adbuster’s _‘Buy Nothing Day’ commercial which called for a 24-hour shopping moratorium._

New Internationalist issue 333 magazine cover This article is from the April 2001 issue of New Internationalist.
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