“Billionaires control our ‘democracy’” was the first of the Real Media campaign’s themes in a week of action against billionaire-owned press, called Anti-Daily Mail week. The mock headline was one of many Mail-style front covers made by the group, telling stories the paper would report if it was not owned by a right-wing billionaire.
Tuesday concentrated on how corporate press acts effectively as PR for big oil and fracking industries. Campaign group Talk Fracking organised actions in universities in Scotland and the rUK about Frackademics, a concise and cutting report about how the fracking industry has bought up science. Also, activists from Grow Heathrow dressed as polar bears to visit the Headquarters of architects Foster and Partners that build runways worldwide. The bears’ message was more air travel is ‘plane stupid’.
Halfway through the week on budget day, Real Media’s campaign shifted onto how austerity works for the 1%. We have the “Greatest Wealth Gap and it’s getting worse”, was the banner headline. The inequality theme coincided with the Blockupy action in Frankfurt – a European mass action against the ECB and its takeover of democracy. Also, Debt Resistance UK was out in the City of London, with the message that it is time for the 1% to pay for the crises they created. They visited Goldman Sachs.
“The corporate media is committing a fraud on the public, by not telling monumentally important stories such as the HSBC fraud and fracking leaks.” says Kam Sandhu, spokesperson for the Real Media campaign.
Every day the Real Media campaign is amplifying stories that go untold by the corporate press. On Monday it drew attention to Nafeez Ahmed’s piece: ‘Death, drugs and HSBC’. In this the investigative reporter exposes a whistle-blower’s account of systemic fraud at HSBC, which is ignored by both the political and media establishment.
On Tuesday, the campaign focused on the chemical leaks coming from IGas fracking site, at Barton Moss near Manchester. The story has been told by the Salford Star, Mancunian Spring and Desmog news platforms. But like the systemic fraud of HSBC, it is unmentioned by the corporate press.
“When 5 billionaires have a monopoly on the information going out to the public, it is logical that they would not publish stories that unsettle the economic system they are gaining from. Instead, regardless of the devastation it causes to society, this billionaire press often acts to distract us”, Sandhu adds.
“Despite the fact we have alerted these ‘mainstream’ media organisations about the public interest stories we have amplified this week, they remain absent from the corporate press and the BBC.”
Newspapers stand accused of deflecting blame onto vulnerable groups, creating hatred against different minorities. Also, if you read through the majority of papers and you find a lot of news about celebrities who are risen onto pedal stools, only to be smacked back down to earth.
The corporate media enables a system that works for the 1% around the world. Austerity is rarely systematically criticised and only making inequality worse. Through the monopoly of media ownership and the way academia is dependent on corporate money it pushes the idea that we must continue with ever more dirty fossil fuels that will make our planet uninhabitable.
Ex-Telegraph journalist Peter Oborne revealed recently how the paper would not critically investigate HSBC. The reason was due to the bank’s large advertising account. But also papers considered progressive, such as the Guardian, take massive amounts of sponsorship from this bank.
The anti-Daily Mail week continues, on Thursday asserting that we face the largest ever privatisation of our public services and this is being ignored by the billionaire press. Friday’s theme is war and terror, and how the British military complex gains from backing both sides. Saturday will highlight the attack on people’s rights, pushed by a culture of project fear in the mainstream press.
This week of action is stage two of a broader strategy. It began three weeks ago in Manchester, with a conference of independent and critical journalists.
Next week, Occupy Rupert Murdoch will mark a week of action outside the media mogul’s London Headquarters, starting with issuing an arrest warrant for Mr Murdoch. In early April, Real Media will launch a new website that aggregates different news sites.
“The Real Media website’s heart will be an aggregator of news from independent sources. We have many brilliant writers, bloggers and news organisations out there, challenging the narrative of our distorted press and reporting on the true impact of subjects such as austerity.” Sandhu says.
“Real Media will act as platform to find news from sources that are not interrupted, doctored, stifled by the interests of a rich few. Information is the fundamental tool. These billionaires would not dedicate so much of their time to slanting our media if it was not. Real Media is an opportunity to continue the shift in conscience that we’ve seen since the financial crash, which is evident in the global movements for democracy, not least the Scottish referendum.”