samedi, janvier 07, 2006

George Orwell

The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban.... The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trouser in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

Préface censurée d'Animal Farm par George Orwell (1943), mentionnée ici, tirée de Progressive Political Fiction, Tony Christini, 6 décembre 2006. Orwell a ses continuateurs en Fairness And Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), dont la section spéciale Issue Area: Narrow Range of Debate est plus que roborative. De l'autre côté de l'atlantique, MediaLens fait un travail admirable, j'ai bien hâte au livre 'Guardians of Power: The myth of the liberal media':

UKWatch: The focus of your book is the liberal media. Why have you chosen this target rather than the right-wing media which many would consider far worse.

MediaLens: [...] Phil Lesley, author of a handbook on public relations and communications, advises corporations:

“People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear doubt. The weight of impressions on the public must be balanced so people will have doubts and lack motivation to take action. Accordingly, means are needed to get balancing information into the stream from sources that the public will find credible. There is no need for a clear-cut ‘victory’. ... Nurturing public doubts by demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of the opponents usually is all that is necessary.”

This is the main function of ‘professional’ news reporting. The main function of the ‘liberal’ arm of professional journalism is indicated by Australian media analyst Alex Carey:

“There is evidence from a major wartime study that, for the best results, one side only of an issue or argument should be presented to poorly educated people. Two-sided presentations, however, are more effective in influencing better educated people and those initially opposed to the desired view.” (Alex Carey, p.159)

The liberal media tell both sides of the story – kind of. They emphasise the state-corporate version of the truth, particularly in news reporting. This is then ‘balanced’ by commentary that presents superficial or trivial counter-arguments that do not seriously challenge the official view. So, for example, on the issue of Iraqi WMD, the official view – that Iraq was a threat that had to be disarmed, by force of necessary – was countered with a superficial, trivial view – that this may well be true, but any action should be endorsed by the UN. The real counter-argument – that Iraq was clearly not a threat and that any attack on Iraq, with or without UN approval, would be the supreme war crime – the launching of a war of aggression – was almost nowhere to be seen. The result is what Edward Herman describes as “normalising the unthinkable”. The liberal audience – the section of the population that might be expected to be most compassionate, most fiercely opposed to government crimes – was subject to endless liberal propaganda persuading them of the basic reasonableness and respectability of the US-UK government position. This consistently has the effect of pacifying and neutralising the most concerned and motivated section of society - people drawn to progressive, liberal ideas. By contrast, the right-wing press preaches to the converted, people who are happy with the status quo and keen for it not to be challenged.

D. Edwards et D. Cromwell interviewés par UK Watch via -1 Z Mag

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