In many countries especially in the western world, there is at the moment a discussion about Fake news or Luegenpresse. Especially in those European countries in which we have state-funded media. In Ireland RTE, in the UK BBC, and Germany ARD, ZDF, and their derivates, a lot of people do not see any sense any longer, due to the new media and the possibility for literally everybody to send out their information.
In the example in Germany, the system of payments which is a fee and not tax in the Federal republics legal lingo for legal reasons had such a high opt-out and low acceptance that they changed it to a household fee and this is in all but name a tax. Still, roughly 4.5million people do not pay it. There was even a highly reported case of a woman sent to jail and loosing because of this her job.
In Ireland, there was the last day a discussion of raising the fee for the tv license. Journal.ie, used this to do a vote and more than 91% of participants opted for losing RTE and having them fend for themselves. Some countries went to set-top boxes, and you get much like with any other pay tv service a card for which you have to pay except if you’re on social welfare, of old age or disabled.
The reasons are manifold why people do not accept this any longer. Some do not like the influence certain political parties, or religious groups have, the ruling parties in Ireland, the church and transatlantic circles in Germany, and the unionists in the UK are just some examples.
The same goes for the traditional private media, if you look here at the worldwide structures, there are besides some state-funded senders and organizations like Al Jazeera and Russia Today, only about 5-8 News agencies Bertelsmann, Murdoch’s Fox, in Europe the RTL group and Disney among them. There are some minor ones as well, but all of these have political agendas which are followed. However, this is nothing new nor has it become more intense in the last years. Propaganda is as old as the press, it has even been a considerable part in ancient Rome during the medieval ages and during the revolutionary times from 1500 onwards. We are just more capable of consuming more information and getting more unfiltered information and opinions.
So there is no need to subsidize the state-funded propaganda any longer, on the other hand, there is also no need for the traditional media any longer. A lot of members of these groups fight this, and they tend to tell the recipients they are dumb or influenced or for whatever other reason not capable of understanding why we would need them. There is also the mythos of the stupid mass. Which again is wrong. The average IQ is rising every year. Yes you have religious nutjobs, and you have people afraid of change, but the vast majority here is a lack of education, or rather influenced education (abstinence instead of sexual education comes to mind).
A lot of these journalists still think of themselves as a liberal; educated avantgarde, who is neutral and need to tell people how to think. This mythos was fueled by movies and pop culture, both Superman and Spiderman where journalists, fighting for the truth and right, both hiding their true identity, and many journalists see themselves in this tradition. And yes there are those, but the media organizations itself are not neutral they’re very much influenced by their owner’s agendas.
Like Spiderman and Superman had to deal with falsified information and their writings twisted, Spiderman more so by J. Jonah Jamison, they kept working for their employers, they did not fight back in a meaningful way, they were forced to do their bidding. And the same goes for all those employed modern journalists.
The danger we could fall for here is, however, building our little filter bubbles, we tend to follow what we like, and we tend to surround us with people and culture with which we agree. The same reason why liberal people flock to the cities and conservative people flock to the countryside, or in the US to Blue or Red states. We try to avoid conflict we try to avoid discussion, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone agrees with us?
So do I think we need to abolish and stop paying and subsidizing state propaganda? Yes, I do without exception. I believe State funded news agencies should send out political debates in parliament, publish changes in law and have an infrastructure for emergency communication ready, but nothing more. A state should serve its people, not vice versa.
I also think one needs to consciously follow people who do not agree and seek the discussion with their counterparts. But that should be up to the people themselves.