Problems in the broadcast media

We’ve all seen the story about the explosion and shootings in Norway yesterday.  I’ve noticed something worrying in the reporting of the story by the BBC and SkyNews on their teletext service, yesterday and today.

Yesterday, the word “Moslem” was not used.  On page 6 of 7 of the SkyNews report a mention was made of the possibility that the attacks were by “al Qaeda”, but quickly qualified by a claim that perhaps it was by “far right” groups.

Today we learn that the attacker was a single man, a Norwegian, supposed to be linked to the “far right”.  The news reports also describe him as a “Christian fundamentalist”.  We’re also told that nothing like this “right wing violence” has ever happened before, which makes it curious that they referred to it as a possibility yesterday.

This is not good reporting. 

Firstly, it’s clear that those writing these reports fully expected Moslem terrorists to be responsible, and were trying not to say so.   That’s a bit dodgy, but we might allow them this, to refrain from speculation, and not stirring up hate against a group which has yet to be found guilty of this specific atrocity, on the basis that to do so is strictly and narrowly reporting the news.  But today, one day on, they don’t feel any hesitation in attributing exactly that to the Christians.  So objectivity there was none.  In short, they were deliberately not reporting the guilt of one party for political reasons. 

That means that we can’t trust their reporting of anything to do with Islam or Moslems.  It means — can it mean anything else? — that there is probably a lot more Moslem violence than we are allowed to hear about.   And we have to ask … what else are we not allowed to hear about?  What other things, other than Islam, are on the list of “may not be mentioned critically”? 

Once a political censorship is in place, and we can show that it is, then we must remind ourselves that we don’t know what is being said.  Our conception of what is normal tends to be formed or influenced by the news media, whether we like it or not.  It is what is NOT said that is important, sometimes.

Now this may seem like an over-reaction, and, in some ways, I hope that it is.  I doubt that every journalist is corrupt!  I don’t suppose that every newspaper has a censor at their office.  But censorship can be imposed in many ways other than a man in a uniform — societal intimidation is one — and anyway … how can we tell?  We can tell that we’re being misled.  The evidence has appeared.

Secondly, I read today that in the 1990’s, with “far right” activity at a high, and voters supporting them, all the Swedish newspapers on the same day published photographs on their front pages of all the members of the relevant political party.  It sounds quite Orwellian — no concerns about “diversity of control of the press” there! — but that is what the BBC reports today. 

But that raises more questions.  With that kind of Goebbels-like orchestrated intimidation directed at a small group by the political establishment, I found myself wondering whether the supposed bomber was really just a fall guy.  Is it possible that this really was an Islamic attack?    If it was, and if this happened … how would we know?  These are the questions you start to ask, once you know that you can’t trust the media.

Let’s not get lost in the political aspects of this.  The issue for me is one of freedom of information, and political censorship.   Whatever our political views, we don’t need this kind of interference with information, whoever does it.  We need more diversity and less censorship.  At the moment the pressure is all the other way.

It is, after all, Christians who have been fingered as responsible for this atrocity.  That means me, you know.  And I’m reasonably sure that I didn’t do it.

UPDATE: I’ve removed material which, interesting as it is, is extraneous to this post.

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