Monday, January 24, 2005

Final edition for the press

/ press / pressured /
As the ex-Maoist daily Libération ceded a large part of its shares to the banker Edouard de Rothschild, Ignacio Ramonet talks about the crisis of the press, of journalism and of the media in general. A very informative article - and allow me to quote the scariest, possibly, part:

Recent statements by Serge Dassault confirm the worst fears. When he took over Le Figaro, he told his editors: “I would hope that, where possible, the newspaper will devote more thought to our commercial interests. In my view, there are sometimes news items that require a lot of caution. For instance, articles that talk about contracts being negotiated. There is some news that does more harm than good. The risk is that it threatens the commercial or industrial interests of our country”. What he meant by “our country” was his arms manufacturing company, Dassault-Aviation. Presumably it was also to protect his company that he censored the story about the fraudulent sale of Mirage aircraft to Taiwan, and the story about discussions between Jacques Chirac and Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the planned sale of Rafale aircraft to Algeria.

He set off alarm bells for journalists when he expanded on his reasons for deciding to buy L’Express and Le Figaro. A newspaper, he said, “makes it possible to convey a certain number of healthy ideas . . . Leftwing ideas are non-healthy ideas. Today we’re in a mess because of leftwing ideas that are still around”. We could put these remarks beside comments by Patrick Le Lay of French media giant TF1. Describing his company’s mission he said: “The job of TF1 is to help Coca-Cola to sell its product. What we sell to Coca-Cola is an availability of human brain-time”. Such statements express starkly the dangers inherent in the overlap of information and marketing. Obsessive commercialism directly contradicts the ethics of journalism.

Welcome to the information revolution.

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