The Media in our Democracy: Principals of Rogue Journalists

17 December 2018
In a developing democracy, it is important that we often take time to write about the media, particularly for those with interest in the intellectual culture, the part of which is easiest to study is the media. Interaction with media is almost inevitable, and quite consistent hence the ease in executing a systematic investigation. Simply by comparing yesterday’s version to today’s version- it is possible to reveal evidence about what’s played up and what isn’t and the way things are structured.

As the government in waiting, it will be impossible to avoid interaction with the various facets of the power structure. At a time where there is intense concentration of the media into a very few mega-corporational hands, it is in the interest of the party to make these interactions clearly adversarial and conflictual, reflecting our desire to destroy the power structure completely. It is significant for South Africans to recognise that technology- that which we lack our own- and ideology are also part of the network of power. One would think that from this they would draw the due conclusion that the technological system for the dissemination of ideology, the media, is an inherent part of the power structure and, therefore, an opponent in our revolution.

The media plays a specific role in the power structure, a role that, in a democratic state, becomes not only essential, but also central to the functioning of power. Today, we are plagued with a media of opinions. Paid journalists have resorted to a broad spectrum of opinions, precisely because opinions are basically substanceless. Opinions are ideas that have been drained of all vitality. Separated from life and from any actual basis, they have become harmless blathering that have ultimately undermined media reporting and journalism. It is clear that the media plays an obvious political role, which is to disseminate what the power structure would appreciate as democratic opinion.. Of course all media behave like this to some extent, and must be consciously resisted and “criticized” precisely to that extent. The purpose of the media is precisely to promote the languid thinking that keeps us passive in the face of a distant reality, always ready to choose between the options offered by the monopoly of media corporations, options that all end up subjecting the chooser to the power of the minority ruling class.

Through all of these- the powers that be can inject their ideology into our lives so that we think in their terms and have their ideals and culture. One of the most effective ways this is done is via mass media ie newspapers, magazines, films, TV, music etc: not only are they selling us products, they are pushing their prejudices, myths and stereotypes. Not to insinuate that people are too stupid to know what’s going on, but it’s a constant bombardment, sometimes subtle, sometimes totally blatant, when it comes to support for the ruling elite’s perspective of our daily lives.
The concerted fear mongering is from a particular sector of the media, the elite media, sometimes called the agenda-setting media because they are the ones with the big resources, they set the framework in which everyone else operates. The Times, News24, Mail & Guardian, Daily Maverick and their information manufacturers cloaked as investigative journalists. Their audience is mostly privileged people. The people who contribute to and read the Daily Maverick for example— people who are part of what is called the political class — they are actually involved in the political system in an ongoing fashion. They are basically managers of one sort or another. They can be political managers, business managers (like corporate executives), doctoral managers (like university professors)- as will be exemplified with the Principal of the University of Witwatersrand-, or other journalists who are involved in organising the way people think and look at things.

What are the elite media, the agenda-setting ones? Media24, Tiso Blackstar, Primedia, Enca for example. Well, first of all, they are major, very profitable, corporations. Furthermore, most of them are either linked to, or outright owned by, much bigger corporations, like Naspers. They are way up at the top of the power structure of the private economy which is a very tyrannical structure. These media corporations are basically tyrannies, hierarchic, controled from above. If you don’t like what they are doing you get out.
Because the media are a doctrinal system they interact closely with the universities. In their reporting, some of the journalists go over to the big universities like UCT or Wits and find an expert who will guide the in their writing, in some instances, they go to one of the foundations, like the Hellen Suzman Foundation and they will give them the words to say. These institutions are very similar to the media.

The University of Witwatersrand, for example, is not an independent institution. There may be independent people scattered around in the university, but that is true of the media as well. And it’s generally true of corporations. People within the University of Witwatersrand, who don’t adjust to the structure of the institution, who don’t accept it and internalize it will always be targeted by the Vice Chancellor, as seen in his historical consistent public attack on radical thought, most of which are published on the University website and The Daily Maverick. There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently. Our educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don’t do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, UCT and Wits are very much aimed at socialisation. If you go through a place like Wits, the socialisation that unfolds is geared towards how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on.

The Media may precisely be defined according to whether or not a given medium professes itself to be “objective” — in that it (1) reports objectively on reality, (2) it defines itself as part of an objective or natural condition of reality, and (3) it assumes reality can be reflected and represented as an object by an observer of that reality. The way to communicate the message of economic freedom is clearly to create our own means of communication. Meaning concentrating all social-media platforms to express radical ideas without putting them through the crunching apparatus of the media. This independent means of communication can be distinguished from the media in that it shall not masquerade and mediate opinions and images while claiming objectivity and dishing out pre-digested pablum to a passive audience. This communication shall be an attempt on the part of the economic emancipation movement to express ideas not only in the words but also in the method through which they are expressed.