25June2017

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Category: About Media Lens

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Who Are We?

At present, those working on Media Lens are:

David Cromwell: Editor   
editor@medialens.org
Born in Glasgow in 1962; studied natural philosophy and astronomy, then a PhD in solar physics; spell with Shell in the Netherlands, then a research position in oceanography in Southampton; left in 2010 to work full-time on Media Lens; author of Why Are We The Good Guys? (Zero Books, 2012); co-author, with David Edwards, of two Media Lens books: Guardians of Power(Pluto Books, 2006) and Newspeak In the 21st Century (Pluto Books, 2009); author of Private Planet (Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2001); co-editor, with Mark Levene, of Surviving Climate Change (Pluto Books, 2007).
david edwards

David Edwards: Editor 
editor@medialens.org

articles published in The Independent, The Times, Red Pepper, New Internationalist, Z Magazine, The Ecologist, Resurgence, The Big Issue; monthly ZNet commentator; author of Free To Be Human - Intellectual Self-Defence in an Age of Illusions (Green Books, 1995) published in the United States as Burning All Illusions (South End Press, 1996: www.southendpress.org), and The Compassionate Revolution - Radical Politics and Buddhism (1998, Green Books).
olly maw Olly Maw: Webmaster
webmaster@medialens.org | www.om-web.co.uk | www.subgiant.co.uk
ethically inspired web designer working as a freelancer and musician with the band subgiant.


Media Lens is grateful to all the individual donors who support us. We are entirely reliant on you; we have no other sources of funding.

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Category: About Media Lens

The Propaganda Model: An Overview

In their book 'Manufacturing Consent - The Political Economy of the Mass Media' (Pantheon, 1988), Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky set out their “propaganda model of media control”. In a subsequent article written in 1996, Edward Herman explains the genesis of the model:

“We had long been impressed with the regularity with which the media operate within restricted assumptions, depend heavily and uncritically on elite information sources, and participate in propaganda campaigns helpful to elite interests. In trying to explain why they do this we looked for structural factors as the only possible root of systematic behaviour and performance patterns.” (Edward Herman, ‘The propaganda model revisited,’ Monthly Review, July 1996)

In identifying these “structural factors”, Herman and Chomsky list five news “filters” through which “money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public”. (Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent - The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Pantheon, 1988, p.2):

1: the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms 

2: advertising as the primary income source of the mass media

3: the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power 

4: "flak" as a means of disciplining the media

5: "anticommunism" (more recently, “anti-terrorism”) as a national religion and control mechanism.

Herman adds some flesh to the bones:

“The crucial structural factors derive from the fact that the dominant media are firmly imbedded in the market system. They are profit-seeking businesses, owned by very wealthy people (or other companies); they are funded largely by advertisers who are also profit-seeking entities, and who want their ads to appear in a supportive selling environment. The media are also dependent on government and major business firms as information sources, and both efficiency and political considerations, and frequently overlapping interests, cause a certain degree of solidarity to prevail among the government, major media, and other corporate businesses.

“Government and large non-media business firms are also best positioned (and sufficiently wealthy) to be able to pressure the media with threats of withdrawal of advertising or TV licenses, libel suits, and other direct and indirect modes of attack. The media are also constrained by the dominant ideology, which heavily featured anticommunism before and during the Cold War era, and was mobilized often to prevent the media from criticizing attacks on small states labelled communist. 

“These factors are linked together, reflecting the multi-levelled capability of powerful business and government entities and collectives (e.g., the Business Roundtable; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; industry lobbies and front groups) to exert power over the flow of information.” (Herman, Monthly Review, op.cit.)

Notice that the propaganda model is not a conspiracy theory. Herman and Chomsky write:

“We do not use any kind of ‘conspiracy’ hypothesis to explain mass media performance. Our treatment is much closer to a ‘free market’ analysis, with the results largely an outcome of the workings of market forces.” (Herman and Chomsky, op. cit., p.xii)

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Category: About Media Lens

So, what is our fundamental philosophy?

We accept the Buddhist contention that while greed, hatred and ignorance distort reason; compassion empowers it. Our aim is to increase rational awareness, critical thought and compassion.

Our goal is not at all to attack, insult or anger individual journalists, but to highlight significant examples of systemic media distortion that are the cause of immense suffering. For example: the failure to communicate the true death toll of the war in Iraq; the hypocrisy and destructiveness of media reporting on climate change; the failure to expose the real consequences of corporate psychopathology for modern society, sanity and culture.

Our hope is that by so doing we can challenge harmful delusions. In the age of global warming and globalised exploitation these delusions threaten an extraordinary, and perhaps terminal, disaster. We hope that this website will help to turn bystanders into compassionate actors. As historian Howard Zinn wrote:

"Society has varying and conflicting interests; what is called objectivity is the disguise of one of these interests - that of neutrality. But neutrality is a fiction in an unneutral world. There are victims, there are executioners, and there are bystanders... and the 'objectivity' of the bystander calls for inaction while other heads fall."

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Category: About Media Lens

What is Media Lens?

Since 2001, we have been describing how mainstream newspapers and broadcasters operate as a propaganda system for the elite interests that dominate modern society. The costs of their disinformation in terms of human and animal suffering, and environmental breakdown, are incalculable. We show how news and commentary are ‘filtered’ by the media’s profit-orientation, by its dependence on advertisers, parent companies, wealthy owners and official news sources..

We check the media’s version of events against credible facts and opinion provided by journalists, academics and specialist researchers. We then publish both versions, together with our commentary, in free Media Alerts and invite readers to deliver their verdict both to us and to mainstream journalists through the email addresses provided in our ’Suggested Action’ at the end of each alert. We urge correspondents to adopt a polite, rational and respectful tone at all times – we strongly oppose all abuse and personal attack. We also publish Cogitations, exploring related personal and philosophical themes. 

In 2007, Media Lens was awarded the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Prize

John Pilger has commented:

“The creators and editors of Medialens, David Edwards and David Cromwell, have had such influence in a short time that, by holding to account those who, it is said, write history’s draft, they may well have changed the course of modern historiography. They have certainly torn up the ‘ethical blank cheque’, which Richard Drayton referred to, and have exposed as morally corrupt ‘the right to bomb, to maim, to imprison without trial...’. Without Media Lens during the attack on and occupation of Iraq, the full gravity of that debacle might have been consigned to oblivion, and to bad history.” (John Pilger, foreword, David Edwards and David Cromwell, Guardians Of Power - The Myth Of The Liberal Media, Pluto Press, 2006, p.x)

 In 2001, the BBC’s then political editor, Andrew Marr, described Media Lens as “pernicious and anti-journalistic”. (Email to Media Lens, October 7, 2001)

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor of the Observer, on Media Lens:

“It is a closed and distorting little world that selects and twists its facts to suit its arguments, a curious willy-waving exercise... Think a train spotters' club run by Uncle Joe Stalin.” (Peter Beaumont, ‘Microscope on Medialens,’ The Observer, June 18, 2006)

 We have written two co-authored books: 

Guardians Of Power - The Myth of the Liberal Media (Pluto Press, 2006)

Newspeak - In The 21st Century (Pluto Press, 2009)

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Category: About Media Lens

What is Our Objective?

Our aim is to raise awareness of the systemic failure of the corporate media to report the world honestly and accurately. We encourage readers to challenge the journalists, editors and media managers who set news agendas that traditionally reflect elite interests. Any improved performance resulting from this public pressure, while important, is always likely to be marginal. So we also hope to encourage the creation of non-corporate media - good examples are Democracy Now!, The Real News Network and ZNet - that offer genuine alternatives to the corporate mainstream.

Fundamentally, our goal is to reduce human and animal suffering wherever it occurs.


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