The real threat to free speech and healthy public discussion and exchange"When journalists ignore abuses of the public language by people of influence and power, and reproduce without comment words that are intended to deceive and manipulate ... when this happens journalism ceases to be journalism and becomes a kind of propaganda." - Don Watson: 'Death sentence: The decay of public language'
"Respect for the truth and the right of the public to
truth is the first duty of the journalist."
- Code of conduct, International Federation of Journalists
More than anything else, it is the media corporations' irresponsibility in uncritically accepting constant deceitful practices by politicians, media commentators and reporters that serves to deny real meaning to the daily language of public debate. This in turn severely undermines public understanding and the overall health of 'democracy' itself, let alone the genuine exercise of 'free speech' around the world. It is easy to overlook the fact that the behavior of the media is fundamental to our well being. Because the reality is that, beyond the limits of our personal realms of activity, the major way we obtain information (and ultimately develop opinions) on our wider locality, state, nation ... and the world, is via these largely unregulated, communication channels. Despite their critical importance to society and the significant financial gains many make from their use of a public asset (the airwaves), the mainstream media are basically not required to live up to any significant codes of social responsibility and ethical behavior by any enforced and serious means.Such failures on their part ... and that of our politicians and governments ... should not be accepted with resignation or a 'sigh', but instead loudly and consistently challenged until the sheer weight of public pressure brings on a greater respect for the truth ... and more accurate and honest use of public language. In public life, above all actions must again come to speak more loudly than words. Candour and openness be more warmly welcomed than rhetoric and spin, or trickery and fraud. All the mind-numbing nonsense represented by ‘talking points’, 'poli-speak' and 'double-think' (a phenomenon worsened by the extremes of PR, polling and marketing) must be instantly treated with the public contempt it deserves. It is ironic that it took the pen of one of the most skilled and accomplished of 20th Century journalists, George Orwell, to predict the extent of manipulation, abuse and decay of the public language occurring today. During the past decade and more, the truth of his words seems more evident than ever. These disturbing aspects of '1984' may be arriving a little later rather than sooner, but nonetheless today's 'people's representatives' and their co-defendants, the 'people's media' must be brought to account by all concerned Americans - if so many of our most essentail and hard won, democratic freedoms (including genuine freedom and diversity of speech) are to survive. It is not by chance that the contentious push for fundamental global economic reform and systemic change has seemingly been targeting virtually everything (whether at home or abroad) ... except, the development of more responsible & inclusive media networks; a more effective and truly democratic political system; a more trustworthy voting system, an improved and more accountable system of justice, and an overall more honest approach to fostering greater freedom, financial security and democracy in the world. All the complicated and often ingenous talk of free and open trade, 'globalization' (and its predominantly narrow economic view of our planet), coupled with the otherwise 'trivializing role' of the modern media, also avoids any serious discussion of what seems to be a deeper human need to agree upon a universal set of ethical values and life principles(e.g. one based on the 'Universal Charter of Human Rights').A charter that - if actively pursued - would provide, in effect, a more noble means by which citizens, communities, nations ... and even journalists, congressmen & corporations ... can truly measure their behavior, self worth and achievements on Earth. Read more: ‘The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’? Quotable quotes on the US Media. Media Reform and Democracy
In the US - beyond even the political corruption itself - to restore the very
foundations of democracy, we must first attain a responsible media, a well