Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

Are we supposed to know the truth?

Information is a commercial item or – to say it better – it is an inexhaustible series of items. We, humans, need to know about what is happening so as to be able to run our business or simply to slake our curiosity. Information needs to be accurate and unbiased; it needs to be collected and forwarded. No one person can do it on his own. First newspapers maintained a number of correspondents here and there. No single newspaper was rich enough to have correspondents in all the interesting places in the world. They began exchanging information and paying for it. Ultimately it was the collective customer – the reader – who paid the price. At a time in the past someone had a brilliant idea (and had sufficient resources) to establish a news agency for the purpose of solely gathering information and selling it to news outlets. It worked.

News agencies have become numerous around the globe, but the most important include Agence France Presse, the Associated Press and Reuters. They all claim to be providers of objective, unbiased information, but that certainly is not the case; but first things first.

An agency needs to have a correspondent or an office somewhere in the world, someone who collects information and relays it to the agency. A correspondent works on the spot, makes contact with people important locally or witnesses to events in person (he needs someone to notify him of unfolding events), speaks the local language as he has learnt it or relies on interpreters, which in either case is a barrier to overcome; most importantly, a correspondent has his own political, moral and philosophical stance through which he filters the information that is fed to him; a correspondent is employed by an agency precisely because his views overlap with those of the agency’s bosses! The filter is then doubly strong.

The agency collects the information from its many correspondents (sometimes working in groups in established local offices). The agency’s staff is made up of people and CEOs who, too, have their specific beliefs and convictions (like the belief in man-made climate change, the many human genders or the evil emanating from Russia and China) through which they filter the information.

Apart from the political – philosophical – moral standards, there is yet another factor: information needs to be sold, so its wording is very important to attract attention, while pictorial news accompanying items of information need to make a deep and lasting impression. Agencies are businesses: they either earn money by selling information – and they sell information if it captures the minds of the people – or they draw money from governments, businesses or organizations, in which case the information that they spread must please those governments, businesses or organizations.

The same process occurs at the media outlets: the staff employed there and the CEOs running the outlet have their political persuasions and their specific world view with which they select the news and report the events with the specific selection of the vocabulary that best fits their purposes and they put a spin on whatever they report. They, too, need to please the people or the sponsors in order to earn money.

The agencies, the media outlets and their sponsors also seek to shape the minds of the receivers of information. Why do you think Russian oligarchs spent millions to have their own national television and radio broadcasting corporations? To provide common Russians with accurate and unbiased news? Please… 

The agencies and the media outlets are doubtless connected with governments and secret services as well as businesses: one of the “innocent” ways of earning money from those institutions is to run their adverts. Withdrawal on the part of a wealthy and generous patron from advertising with a media outlet translates into serious trouble for this outlet. 

In a nutshell: the staff and especially the management of news agencies and the staff and the management of media outlets have their political views and moral values along with their specific perception of good and evil. This is a filter through which they gather, select and present the news. News agencies and media outlets are also dependent on governments, secret services and sponsors (foundations run by billionaires!), or they are set up and owned by billionaires, so these factors impact the presentation of the information, the information that we receive.

How do we know that the information that we receive is biased and filtered? The answer is quite simple. If the news agencies and media outlets wanted to provide us with objective information, they would always let all the parties to the conflict that is reported have a say; they would follow the practice of always giving the floor to those who are presented as dictators, war criminals, violators of human rights, terrorists and the like. (Notice in passing the vocabulary that we have quoted in the preceding sentence, the vocabulary that is customarily used by the media, the vocabulary that in no uncertain terms gives away the media’s political likes and dislikes, in a word: the media’s bias.) 

What the media NEVER EVER do is to give the floor to those they call names (dictators, terrorists, aggressors, racists, enemies of humankind) and have those they call names present their case, and then print – broadcast – televise the argumentation of those they call names without cuts or disturbances or any other restrictions. That’s how the objective information ought to be presented, that’s the only way to form an opinion on the part of the reader or viewer, and that’s precisely how it does not work. Rather, a correspondent or a journalist selectively quotes a “dictator” or a “terrorist”, selectively pastes photos of the same “dictator” or “terrorist” with his distorted face and foists it on the readership or viewers as something objective! Not infrequently they do not even make bones about their bias as when they straightforwardly compare a leader to Hitler!

A conflict between the blues and the reds can be reported (and interpreted):

by a third party (the greens),

by the blues, or by

the reds

of which NEITHER approach is objective. The only way to get as close to the truth as humanly possible is to let BOTH parties to the conflict to have a say, a full say. That is the way conflicts are presented in the courts of law. It is not the judge who presents the argumentation of both the claimant and the plaintiff; it is not the prosecutor who presents the argumentation of both the claimant and the plaintiff, nor is it the solicitor; it is not the claimant who presents his own argumentation and that of the plaintiff, nor is it the plaintiff who present his own argumentation and that of the claimant. Each party attends to its own business of presenting its case for the judges to adjudicate.

Why don’t we have something like that in the world of the news, in the world of information, in the world of opinion shaping? The answer is obvious. We are not supposed to know the truth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

GEFIRA provides in-depth and comprehensive analysis of and valuable insight into current events that investors, financial planners and politicians need to know to anticipate the world of tomorrow; it is intended for professional and non-professional readers.

Yearly subscription: 10 issues for €225/$250
Renewal: €160/$175

The Gefira bulletin is available in ENGLISH, GERMAN and SPANISH.