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writing for godot

Reader Supported News is for the people

Written by Paul O'Hanlon   
Thursday, 29 June 2017 09:37

Reader Supported News is for the many not the few. It is not owned by multi-millionaires, warmongers, oligarchs or tax dodging tycoons. Sadly many, and I have to include myself, have not been making a proper financial contribution. At the same time, many of us are subsidising the rich people’s media by buying their newspapers, magazines and paying their TV and sports subscriptions. I myself came to the Internet later in life and grew up with hard copy papers. I like them and I’m not alone. Veteran Australian journalist and film maker John Pilger has said that he loves newspapers. Coming belatedly to the Internet he now has his own website where you can read his articles and view all of his 60 documentaries free of charge. He has written for many papers in his long career including the Daily Mirror and the Guardian as well as magazines like the New Statesman. His sympathetic reporting of oppressed people like the Palestinians, Native Americans, the Vietnamese during the 20th century’s longest war and the Aboriginal people in his own country has incurred the displeasure of the rich and powerful. When he was making his 2002 film `Palestine is Still the Issue` he was receiving death threats at the rate of one a day.

The late Danny Schechter the `News Dissector` made many documentaries like `WMD Weapons of Mass Deception`, `Plunder`, ` A Hero for All: Nelson Mandela's Farewell` and ` America's Surveillance State`. One of his many books is entitled `The More You Watch the Less You Know`. It is fascinating and ought to be required reading for all students of journalism. I can remember two memorable scenes in the book, one when he confronts former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and asks him on behalf of some students how he could justify his actions in Indo-China which led to 6 million deaths. Dr Kissinger was not amused, he snarled “Meester Schechter, it is easy to criticise those of us who must make tough decisions, I vil not be lectured by you or by anyvun! I have no apologies to make!” Notably, on another occasion when Danny encountered his editor and asked, “What about the first amendment, freedom of speech?” The astonishing reply to this reasonable argument was “F*** the first amendment!” Meester Schechter was flabbergasted. Danny does make a very important point in his book and that is if you want to write for the alternative media you must not be motivated by money. Though this is undoubtedly true, at the same time organisations like RSN and media watchdog sites like Media Lens have to be funded.

I was just looking through some of the mainstream (and other) media publications I have bought recently. In the week of June 11th to June 18th , I had bought my local Edinburgh Evening News (cost 78p or US$0.97) the Aberdeen Evening Express (cost £0.65p or US$0.83) the National newspaper which supports an Independent Scotland (cost £0.70 or US$0.99) the Sunday Herald which is the Sunday version of the Glasgow Herald costing £1.80 (US$2.29) the Socialist Worker costing £1.00 (US$1.27) the left wing Morning Star previously known as the Daily Worker costing £1.00 (US$1.27) satirical magazine Private Eye costing £1.80 (US$2.29) the street paper for the homeless The Big Issue costing £2.50 (US$3.18) and also the weekly television and radio guide `The Radio Times` costing £2.50p (US$3.18). So, for the week Sunday 11th June to Sunday 18th June 2017 the cost of all those periodicals tallies to £11.30 or US$14.35 per week. If we convert it to a calendar month it comes to £48.96 or US$62.18. Convert it to a year and it’s £587.56 or US$746.19. Buying 6 newspapers and 3 magazines in seven days, a glutton for corporate propaganda some might say. I would defend some of my purchases like the left-wing Morning Star among whose contributors have been Jeremy Corbyn who nearly became and still could become British Prime Minister. I could argue that the street paper `The Big Issue` helps homeless people and that the National newspaper favours Scottish Independence one of whose aims is to get rid of the 200 nuclear weapons currently stored at Faslane some 30 miles west of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Some 75% of Scots want them removed and that includes current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor as First Minister Alex Salmond. The weapons of mass destruction are not going anywhere soon it seems despite the wishes of the majority, is that democracy?

The agenda of the corporate media is so often one of conflict, the late William Randolph Hearst boasted that a one month hate campaign in his yellow press could bring the nation to the brink of war. “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” An American friend of mine and I were on a sanctions trip busting to Iraq in 2001 led by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. When asked by a local university student “Who owns the media in your country?” (meaning the US) my friend simply replied “Oh, the military industrial complex.” Thus, it is a given that the arms manufacturers who own so much of the media have a vested interest in war and all the horrors that it brings.

Think of how easily many Americans are misled by their government through the media, theoretically the freest on earth. They have been lied to repeatedly. The non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003 was the excuse for an unprovoked attack which led to the current sorry state of Iraq today. Fighting rages in Mosul and the people of Baghdad outside the fantasy world of the Green Zone only get about 3 hours electricity a day. The oil revenues meant for reconstruction have largely been stolen. Historically, remember the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam in 1964, a supposed provocation which never happened. It was used as a pretext by the LBJ administration to escalate the war on the Vietnamese people. Remember the blowing up of the USS ship `The Maine ` in Havana harbour in 1898. While attributed to Spain and serving as a catalyst for the Spanish-American war it was eventually found to be the result of an on-board accident when a coal fire ignited ordnance. At the time, Heart’s newspapers, which gave 8 and a half pages of coverage every day for weeks, enraged American public opinion with the war cry: "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!".

Those seeking out truth need an alternative source of information. While I read widely and watch many news and documentary programmes I have to confess that until I started using RSN I had never heard of distinguished American journalist Robert Parry. He is best known for his breaking of the Iran–Contra affair in the 1980’s. Is it not incredible that someone of his calibre is unknown to many people? Many leading dissidents and investigative reporters and thinkers like Noam Chomsky, Danny Schechter, John Pilger, Michael Moore, Phyllis Bennis, the late Paul Foot and Gore Vidal were largely shut out of the MSM (mainstream media) and became what were effectively `distant voices` of dissent who we are seldom allowed to hear. It’s Sunday 25th June as I write this, the past week I’ve been on the remote island of Fetlar which is part of the Shetland Islands, an archipelago of a hundred islands well to the north of Scotland. The 15 inhabited islands have a population of 22,000 and the capital and largest town is Lerwick with 7,500 souls. They once belonged to Denmark but after the marriage of James III of Scotland to Margaret of Denmark in 1469 the Danes, unable to pay the dowry of 60,000 florins, pawned Shetland to Scotland. Despite attempts to recover it has remained as part of Scotland. On Fetlar there are 60 people and only one shop. The only hard copy newspaper available on this island is the Shetland Times which comes out every Friday. Oil was discovered in Shetland in 1972 and some of the revenues have led to a higher standard of living here. Suppose Shetland had been in the Middle East or South-East Asia?

I can almost imagine the State Department, CIA and media concocting a fantastic story. The evil Fetlarians are developing weapons of mass destruction and are a threat to our national security. They don’t share our values, they talk all peculiar with their Shetland Dialect and they dress up in droll costumes at the annual Viking Fire Festival called Up Helly Aa. The President sombrely announces, “I have grave news, there is unmistakable evidence that the imprisoned island of Fetlar is being used as a base by North Korea to attack the United States.” They could bring Donald Rumsfeld (remember him?) out of retirement and he could repeat what he said in 2003 “Look, there’s no debate about it, they have weapons of mass destruction.” and “We know where they [Iraq's WMD then, Fetlar’s WMD now] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat…” Well, ridiculous though it seems now and did seem to many at the time that could be World War Three.

That’s why we need RSN! I’ve set up a monthly subscription – just a modest one of US$10.00 but if say, just a half or a quarter of RSN readers did the same then Reader Supported News could survive and succeed. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+1 # Depressionborn 2017-07-03 12:07
rsn demands agreement.
the problem is Americans, whatever else they may think, do not like to be told what to think.

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