International Festival of Whistleblowing Dissent and Accountability
...the treatment of Assange and Murray has sent a clear message to any journalist inspired by their courage and their commitment to hold establishment power to account: “You will pay a severe price. You will lose years of your life and mountains of money fighting to defend yourself. And ultimately we can and will lock you away.”
Before the Noughties, without a platform provided by a corporate media outlet, journalists had no way to reach an audience, let alone create one. We were entirely beholden to our editors, and they in turn were dependent on billionaire owners – or in a few cases like the BBC’s, a government – and on advertisers.
The fact that a few journalists and activists can so convincingly and easily tear apart the coverage of corporate media outlets reveals how little relationship that coverage often bears to reality.
Corporate media took none of this lying down, of course, even if it was slow to properly gauge the dangers.
Dissident journalists are a problem not only because they have broken free of the controls of the billionaire class and are often doing a better job of building audiences than their corporate counterparts. Worse, dissident journalists are also educating readers so that they are better equipped to understand what corporate journalism is: that it is ideological prostitution. It is reporting and commentary for hire, by an establishment class.
The backlash from the corporate media to this threat was not long coming. Criticism – narratively managed by corporate outlets – has sought to character-assassinate dissident journalists and browbeat the social media platforms that host them. Reality has been inverted. Too often it is the critical thinking of dissident journalists that is maligned as “fake news”, and it is the genuine pluralism social media corporations have inadvertently allowed that is repudiated as the erosion of democratic values.
The west’s elites will not give up the corrupt institutions that uphold their power without a fight. We would be foolish to think otherwise. But new technology has offered us new tools in our struggle and it has redrawn the battleground in ways that no one could have predicted even a decade ago.
The establishment are being forced into a game of whack-a-mole with us. Each time they bully or dismantle a platform we use, another one – like Substack – springs up to replace it. That is because there will always be journalists determined to find a way to peek behind the curtain to tell us what they found there. And there will always be audiences who want to learn what is behind the curtain. Supply and demand are on our side.
The constant acts of intimidation and violence by political and media elites to crush media pluralism in the name of “democratic values” will serve only to further expose the hypocrisy and bad faith of the corporate media and its hired hands.
We must keep struggling because the struggle itself is a form of victory.