The Last Post
The primary purpose of this short blog post is to inform my current subscribers that the subject matter of the blog is about to change, and so you may wish to unsubscribe. Full details are below …
It seems scarcely possible that more than three years have passed since my most recent article on the topic of ‘How the media manipulate the news’. Yet here we are in 2017 watching the President of the United States telling the world’s press more or less exactly what I wrote about in 2014!
So what has happened during those three years …? We have seen a massive rise in the number of people in western democracies who no longer trust traditional news outlets, preferring instead to believe what they read and hear about via social media. We have witnessed, as a consequence, electoral results that have confounded conventional wisdom. And the phrase ‘fake news’ (a handy way of dismissing or ignoring items of truth that one doesn’t wish to acknowledge) has entered the vocabulary, along with the curiously oxymoronic ‘alternative facts’.
For me, what is taking place now resonates with what happened in the Roman Empire, when Cicero refined the art of rhetoric to amass popular support. The only thing that has really changed is the medium – twitter instead of chatter – but the message is broadly the same: you can’t trust the old order, so let’s clean out the Augean stables (translated: ‘drain the Washington swamp’).
Whatever you think of the Trump presidency (and Brexit, and Macron), the western media are largely responsible for promoting the rise of populism by undermining their own credibility. When even professed stalwarts of factual news like the BBC (‘full, fair and independent’) sends a helicopter to film the police raid on Cliff Richard’s house, and then refuses to admit it might have made a mistake, you know that a wind of change is blowing.
So where do we go from here? I’m not sure. When it is possible to find umpteen sources of material online to support and reinforce your own, preciously held world view (whether that be creationism, racism, sexism or one of many other ‘isms’), and you are being encouraged by the most powerful man in the world not to believe what you read about, see and hear from other sources, the situation can only deteriorate. There is no longer any need for my blog, as originally conceived: the comment and opinion writers in the media are (belatedly) doing that job now!
So thank you to my current subscribers for staying with me, but it is time to turn my attention to something different ….
[From November 2017 this blog will be used to promote a series of eBooks that have been designed for birdwatchers. It will advise subscribers of upcoming new eBooks in the series and updates to existing titles. Hence, if you don’t wish to receive notifications of these blog posts, please unsubscribe now: and thank you again for reading!]