A non-partisan journal of the left.

Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Corporate Interest?

Thu 28th Jun 2012

Day by day, the majority of us awake to the sound of a TV or radio in order to get our quick fix of knowledge about the world around us. The multimedia world is a magnanimous expanding one, largely controlled by the likes of corporate giants such as Rupert Murdoch and his baby, News International.

The Sun is the most read newspaper in the UK and is responsible for over 7 million readers and (in part) their opinions. Surely with this kind of responsibility you could manipulate the result of the general elections and perhaps even create a scapegoat that people would happily use and abuse.

The media has the power to change our opinions, that is a fact. The media is mostly responsible for our opinions and, perhaps, how we act. If we consider the position that media has in society, we must consider the way in which the pen is a very powerful weapon. It is every person’s responsibility to help relay information to help keep the norms and values of our capitalist society within reach of those who deserve the ability to reach them. Those who seek to destroy the system will ultimately lose the ability to fulfil the goals, norms and values and end up receiving the indignation that all outsiders share. The media produces baddies and goodies, the goodies are the ones who stay shy of alternative lives and remain a player in the casino which is the stock market and the baddies are the ones who bad mouth the economic system.

Sociologist Stanley Cohen coined three terms during his study of the media and their conveying of the Mods and Rockers. Media Amplification: the process by which the media enlarges problems or stories in order to gain reasonable public attention, Moral Panic: the process by which the media create a problem that threatens social order to scare the public into supporting their biased nature and Folk Devils: persons who are subjected to becoming scapegoats for the mundane ills of society. Cohen used these terms to describe the media amplification to undermine the Mods and Rockers, the media did this in order to create a dislike for sub-cultures because of their ability to damage the so called moral fibres of mundane society.

The mass reporting of the increase in muggings during the late 1970’s can be argued as being an example of this inflammation of reality, the media used techniques in order to maintain social manipulation of the population by creating a situation that was never really that significant.

It is in fact fairly common for a newspaper to spin a story so cruel that it harms the social integration among communities in the UK. Immigrants tend to be the ‘choice of the month’ for most mainstream right-wing media institutions to use as scapegoats for the crimes of a right wing government. Another demonised group are those claiming government benefits often described as being good for nothing, lazy underclass abusers. While it is fair to say that these problems may have existed before the 'Media Amplification', whether or not they were actually significant is another question. It is unfortunate that this kind of question is usually phrased in the wrong way by the media and you ultimately end up with an answer so ignorant and far from the truth it would be better off not asking in order to prevent the further sharing of ignorance. In a capitalist society it is common for us to see this manipulation of information because of the advantages of keeping social control and the close relations between government officials and media moguls.

Therefore, is it really freedom of speech of the people that we see in this country or is it the freedom of corporate opinions inflicted upon the people? If we observe the actions of the population we can see a contrast between individual opinion and media-spun opinion. From personal experience, my understanding of media-spun opinions is that persons are able to explain what happened, and the opinion of the newspaper, but unable to explain why something happened. This countries government prides itself on its supposed liberty of choice and freedom of speech, claiming that we do not restrict any piece of information. In fact, it may well be the case that we are so far spun into a belief that the media, our knowledge guardians, will give us the right information and the truth. The media therefore serves to keep the working class undermined and uninformed to protect themselves from the working man finding out the truth that could destroy the structure of our tasteless consumerist society.

There are individuals in the media who post blogs, tweets or online articles. The motives are most likely to be personal or expansive, they may wish to display an opinion about a certain event which they feel has been unfairly under-represented in mainstream media, or, they feel they have questions to ask but no answers to give. In our society we tend to denounce blogs and small media institutions because of the conflict between them and the mainstream media. The question is do we put most of our faith in a mass media outlet because many people read or subscribe to it, or do we put our faith in an institution which provides the truth?
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