Independent: The Big, Bad, Evil Con-Fabulators of Choice.

Part 5 of a series on Supersized Media, from

FAR from being a conspiracy, Noam Chomsky contends that the manufacture of consent (the fabrication of peoples ultimate right to choose) is the logical result of the “free-market”. He maintains that, “most biased choices in the media arise from the preselection of right-thinking people, internalised preconceptions, and the adaptation of personnel to the constraints of ownership, organisation, market, and political power.”

Our choices he maintains then are subject to editorial approval, our options, wishes, hopes and desires carefully manipulated and packaged with or without our express permission: “Censorship is largely self-censorship, by reporters and commentators who adjust to the realities of source and media organisational requirements, and by people at higher levels within media organisations who are chosen to implement, and have usually internalised, the constraints imposed by proprietary and other market and governmental centres of power”.

The more one concedes individual freedom, the more one realises the new relationship being constructed by the news media, is not about relating truth, but rather a new form of inquisition as entertainment, an auto de fe that keeps the public guessing. The questions being posed by today’s Shabir Shaik “journalistas” for instance, may as well be preprocessed, vetted, examined for sign of dissident behaviour, dissenting thought, ideological sway. The objective world of fact has given way to a game of charades — everybody and everything has a point of view, that can be extrapolated, beggared, and dusted for meaning.

The adjustment to the new universe of freedom of expression on the one hand, and rule by market forces on the other, takes some getting used to. American press groupings, for example, are by and large constrained by laws governing cross-ownership of media and balanced by a bill of rights enshrining freedom of expression; in South Africa experience proves otherwise. Suppression of news stories, outright censorship for whatever reason and the constant threat of a banning order, exposes the brutality of the system while bringing into stark contrast the hypocrisy of supersized media organisations like the Independent Group.

Where once the Apartheid state restricted writers and journalists, even going so far as exiling and then killing Ruth First, that function has been overtaken by a skewed editorial process which Chomsky so aptly describes, as “an observable pattern of indignant campaigns and suppressions, of shading and emphasis, and of selection of context, premises, and general agenda…” all of which fit into a new “de-regulated” environment in which the markets reign supreme, dictating both content and the context of our supposed “views.”

According to Chomsky, the chief specialist on the subject: “The trend toward greater integration of media into the market system has been accelerated by the loosening of rules limiting media concentration, cross-ownership, and control by non-media companies.” It is within this context of a loosening of strictures that Independent have carefully chosen to operate and in which they see themselves as the dominant player for the foreseeable future.

Part 5 of a series on Supersized Media, from