Monday 18th of October 2021

when our media writes history on the run and faces the robotic news...

sheep news

History is full of it. 

It is full of inaccuracies, fake news and adaptations like movie scripts to a stack of the continuous legendary novels of life. News is in the same boat. Hard to pick and choose what to “promote”. Can news be partisan? Is the pure truth really available as it is rarely self-contained and, especially in politics, news is rigged with strings attached and on the move. So manipulated news are unavoidably attached to the system of news dissemination. Presently, as for many years, the medium is the message. Or in a more accurate term, the medium controls the message. When I arrived in this fair country down-under many moons ago, people were reading newspapers on trains, buses: The Daily Mirror, The Telegraph and The Sun were the afternoon papers that one could buy from street vendors, often kids standing at intersections, waving the latest editions like the out-of-work windscreen cleaners wave their rubber scrapers and their bottle of soapy water... And as the song says “how little do we know”...

The morning paper was the Sydney Morning Herald. The press was the only source of news apart from the morning and evening news bulletins read with a white-plumb in the pommy mouth with a grave voice, on radio. It was serious stuff. By then most of the news was already 24 hours old, though the journos and editors tried their best to be as up-to-date as possible. In regard to political games, sources were often met in pubs and, in order to make the deadlines, plonk and beer were drunk from cartons and flagons hardly hidden in the drawers of journos desk. Cigarette smoke filled the news room. The one-finger journo punched old mechanical typewriters, speeding up towards the inevitable time the copy had to be sent to the hot metal room where skilled linotypists pumped the copy as accurately as possible. There, in the hot-lead-filled deadly atmosphere, the copy was set and lined up in columns that would be inked and first proofed in galleys on cheap paper to be sent back to the news room for checking. This was the last time before printing that the editors could change the copy. Hieroglyphic typographer symbols would be used to indicate changes to be made. Linotypists hated changes though they were paid to redo entire lines where the journo and the sub-editor had mucked up. Linotypists rarely made mistakes, even if some of them came from countries like Czechoslovakia. Try to spell that while sober! Relationships between all could become strained but the speed of action demanded skills that would astonish the millennium nappy classes of today. When there was no time to redo linotype casts, as the editor, now in the hot casting room, would realise a spelling had not been picked-up when “proofing”, a bloke with a hammer and a thin chisel would  punch a hole in the metal which would muddle the word or a letter not meant to be there. Assembled on the marbles, with the big type of the Ludlow and the advertising, the entire pages would be cast with a fast drying medium that would be bent in semi-circular fashion to cast the final lead page for the rotary press. Some papers had more than 200 pages, including advertising with photo retouching as well. That was a lot of work. By then, long gone had been the ability to “update” or correct the news, except for the next editions which were already in the pipeline. “Early” and “late” editions had changes. Erratum in the following editions were rare though. The system worked by employing a lot of people from news gathering, including telegrams and wire, to typesetting and the kid in the street selling the papers — and the copy-boys where journos, writers and photographers, started their apprenticeship. Advertising had already been organised by the representatives who lauded to prospective customers their papers’ immense readership, which was a precious commodity. This readership and advertising made the business of selling news, profitable. But it was hard work. Theses days readership and advertising are sill the bread and butter of news. But the medium has changed. Theoretically, this line of comment has as much chance of being read than The New York Times... and there are only two of us minding the fort.

Yes. Now the news comes in, fast and furiously sloppy and floppy on your digital phone... This is the topic of the Andrew Olle lecture by Joseph Kahn who delivered an address focusing on the role and future of the media, saying, “... the Trump presidency has challenged the news media in ways few of us could have imagined, but also reaffirmed the enduring value of deep reporting and great storytelling for readers everywhere.” (

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie said Mr Kahn, a former Beijing bureau chief and International Editor for the New York Times, offered valuable insights into how newsrooms are meeting the challenges of digital transformation.

Here some people in the news “industry", start to panic, especially at the Murdoch-run news empire. In the Daily Telegraph of 28/10/17, “Frightful Five” describes Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft as the new players on the news market. Technology has made the old model of the New York Times (and of the SMH — an older publication?) precarious, sitting on the edge of profitability and fighting for their own existence. The paper model has improved its production using computerisation of processes between copy and print, yet this is still not enough to sustain in the next few years. So the NYT is looking at video and podcast content but this is an already crowded market where the techno firms are kings. So it becomes a rather diluted output of news already manipulated by governments and tweets from Trump — and some related news agencies who specialise in dishing out information from where the others have no access to.  There again, some of these news agencies will slant the out-takes of the information to suit the sub-market which the NYT represents. 

Investigative journalism often starts with an angle and rarely lets go of the angle even should this angle be proven iffy. (see only the nuz). So in this info war, opinions are often presented as news and in the same media, various opinions might compete, though most of the time, these are designed to give the same side of the mirror, as not to rock the foundation of our present social network, in which capitalism is running the show.

This is where I introduce Lady Godiva as the Queen of pure news. Or the Emperor with No Clothes. Legendary characters or modified by further interpretations and embellishments. Godiva, Countess of Mercia (died between 1066 and 1086), in Old English Godgifu, was an English noblewoman who, according to a legend written 200 years later, rode naked – covered only in her long hair – through the streets of Coventry to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation that her husband imposed on his tenants. The name “Peeping Tom” for a voyeur originates from later versions of this legend in which a man named Thomas watched her ride and was struck blind or dead (by god? Lightning?). Should the media aka Uncle Rupe have been on the prowl then, the long hair would have been airbrushed out, if you know what I mean, but the news of the nakedness would have been plastered on the front page, with pictures to boot. News and voyeurism go hand in hand. 

Now, with “electronically disseminated news” the content does not go much further than the saucy life (or contrition-rectitude) of movie stars and the ever growing butt of KK. News of a tiff between Kim of North Korea and Trump possibly leading to WW3 would be reduced to a small item jammed between the legs of a starlet and advertising for a new brand of perfume especially packaged for another famous star, including Madonna. And at the flick of a finger you can scroll to the next pre-munched items at the speed of light. The smart phones are “smart”, you are not. We get bored by reality. On the trains and buses these days, 90 per cent of people are scrolling their little tablet. The others are asleep after a long day’s work with unpaid overtime, because of casual employment and me looking at the landscape passing by.

So the naked story of Godgifu appeared in 13th century Flores Historiarum, a manuscript of adaptation of various true story and legends, by Roger of Wendover. This was designed to set the tone of the acceptable social interactions (for those who could read, especially prude noble men if such creature existed). William Dugdale — not the third longest serving spoofed fake Prime Minister, Andrew Dugdale who dined with presidents and kings, hosted world summits and changed the lives of millions of his fellow Australians — said in 1656, that a window with representations of Leofric and Godiva was placed in Trinity Church, Coventry, about the time of Richard II. But you knew that.

By now Andrew Dugdale is retired; a not-so-clever statesman with time to ponder was "it" all worth it? His over-enthusiastic ghostwriter Ellen has an unhelpful insatiable appetite for the truth — whatever that is and his story becomes totally delusional. 

Sorry. I was distracted by the concept of fake history and news that seems to merge with press releases to create the world of information we live in which it is hard to make the difference between spoof and reality. 

The Flores Historiarum manuscript was also strongly opinionated to favour the English and it hated the Scots, especially Robert the Bruce who killed Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Lord of Lochaber, following an argument, and was thus excommunicated by the Pope — but then received absolution from Robert Wishart, the Bishop of Glasgow. 

Bruce quickly seized the throne and was crowned king of Scots on 25 March 1306. 

Robert was defeated by Edward I’s armies, forcing him to flee to the Hebrides and Ireland before returning in 1307 to defeat English troops at Loudoun Hill.

Bruce also defeated his Scots enemies, destroying their strongholds, and in 1309 held his first parliament. A series of military victories won him control of Scotland, and in Bannockburn, 1314, Robert defeated a much larger English army under Edward II of England, confirming the re-establishment of the independent Scottish kingdom. These days they ask the limp populace to vote about independence or not...

Economic factors join the fray and, had Brexit happened before the vote, the result would have been a different kettle of fish.

Meanwhile, Edward II refused to renounce his claim on Scotland. In 1320, the Scottish nobility submitted the Declaration of Arbroath to Pope John XXII, declaring Robert as their rightful monarch and asserting Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom. In 1324, the Pope recognised Robert I as king of an independent Scotland. In 1326, the Franco-Scottish alliance was renewed in the Treaty of Corbeil. In 1327, the English deposed Edward II in favour of his son, Edward III, and peace was concluded between Scotland and England with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, by which Edward III renounced all claims to sovereignty over Scotland. We know the rest...

And now to Trump and fake news... We would hope that the media would become a bit more alert to political machinations, but in its support for Hillary, the New York Times lost the plot and, as far as I can assess, failed to understand the role played by Uncle Rupe in the election of the Dumb One. 

Apparently, The New York Times was the first media to exclusively release the connection between Russia and Trump, to tarnish the Dumb One, but so far no-one has been able to prove that Russia, and definitively not Putin, interfered with the Dumb One election. Uncle Rupe-the-Ocker-from-Downunder had all to do with it... So it seems that “investigative journalism” is becoming a fast game to maintain a “brand” rather that inform you of the Truth, the remains of which are always found in the dungeon of legends, too late and completely desiccated. As Casey said (or not):

we can tell we have fulfilled the goal of the CIA when everything the American people believe is false.” News media included. The war on Saddam was a master lesson 101 in this form of deceit, when our near entire media was blinded by fake governmental information and distracted by sidekicks doing a samba. And they reelected the lying bastard...

Here, we knew better then in 2001, but we did not have a platform nor a soap-box from which to shout the truth as we saw it unfold with the killing of people in the process of a useless war going back to the time of the crusades in its intent...

Gus Leonisly

Your local international media expert, since 1952.


massaging the medium...

"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or convey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.


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See also:

the power of uncle rupe... and the fascist murdoch media...

the mouthpiece of Britain’s oxbridge-educated Liberal elite

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist based in Russia.:

Formerly a socialist-leaning newspaper from provincial Manchester, today’s Guardian is the London-based mouthpiece of Britain’s Oxbridge-educated Liberal elite. After reading its website for a week, I’m wondering if this is the best all that expensive education can produce?

However, its detractors have a different point of view. Spewing bile at“Guardianistas” and the “Grauniad” itself, they brand it an issues-led rag which nobody actually reads. They correctly point out that the Guardian ‘boasts’ the lowest daily sale of any UK national newspaper. This stood at 156,756 copies in January of this year. By contrast, the conservative Daily Mail still flogs 1,511,357 a day, on average. The Mail also trumps the Guardian online, when it comes to popularity.

Guardian online, which also uses content from its Sunday sibling The Observer, was launched in 1999 and used to be known as “Guardian Unlimited.” The name, which sounded like a 90’s pop song, was quietly dropped. Today the site is a strange hybrid of genuinely excellent sports coverage, often overblown features that pander to liberal obsessions, a one-note comment section and the odd bit of breaking news.

After a week, you quickly learn the Guardian’s worldview: Donald Trump, straight men, Christmas, and Brexit are all considered to be really bad. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin and Russia are opprobrious, malevolent and reprehensible. Good things include unfettered immigration, mixed-sex toilets, and Tony Blair.

Divided loyalties

At the same time, the Guardian seems to oppose the British royal family, but still endlessly writes about their travails. It appears to be open to changing its stance on the future of the monarchy provided a future King comes out as gay. Or if Prince Harry starts a trend of Windsors marrying people of color. Or both.

Now, I’m a fairly open-minded and tolerant fellow, but a couple of days into this experiment, I was on the verge of switching to the Daily Express or Breitbart for a bit of balance because the Guardian is equally biased, from the opposite end of the spectrum, as those widely derided outlets. And its messaging is just as relentless.

Try some of these headlines, from the opinion section, for size:

“End all immigration controls - they’re a sign we value money more than people”

“Would a gay monarch cure the church of its homophobia”

“If Meghan Markle represents the “mixed-race” community, what about me?” (a lot of Guardian articles start from the theme of 'what about me?')

“Can Harry and Meghan make Britain whole again”

And this example. Where neo-liberalism is explained by blaming long-dead people, who'd never heard of Margaret Thatcher:

“How Neolithic farming sowed the seeds of modern inequality 10,000 years ago.”

Followed by a piece passing the buck for climate change to a continent which largely came to the industrial revolution more than a hundred years after England.

“The West can’t fix the climate crisis. Asia will have to do it.”

But this is only the political stuff. When we move onto “identity” issues it gets even worse:

“The “arm vagina” - Hollywood’s latest form of female self-flagellation”

“To those who oppose gender-neutral toilets: they’re better for everybody”

“My daughter needs plastic surgery - how can I tell her”

“Emma Cline’s plagiarism suit - just another story of a man acting terribly” (because it’s"the latest example of men thinking women owe them it all")

“My problem with Viagra? It feeds men’s obsession with macho performance.”

And my personal favorite: “Of course pets need Christmas presents - but why get swanky with them.” Presumably, because expensive gifts may distract Fido and Fluffy from understanding the true meaning of Christmas.

Talking down

Remember the above is only a selection from one week, but consuming this sort of nonsense day in, day out for a few years, has to have a serious effect on mental well-being. An acquaintance of mine in Ireland used to describe the Guardian as "the paper for people a little bit wrong in the head," but it’s hard to know whether they were born that way or excessive exposure to the "Graun" caused the malaise.

The Guardian doesn’t restrict itself to social and political issues, though. It also tries to lecture its readers on more trivial matters, like how to eat beans on toast. Because these numpties would insist on an etiquette or way to "correctly" eat the peasant’s food.

Only the @guardian would insist on an etiquette or "way to correctly" eat the peasant's

— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) December 11, 2017

Toward the end of my week, I was searching for an article that perfectly displayed the Guardian’s relentless bias. And then the bleeding hearts of King’s Cross dropped a gift into my lap, by publishing a hilariously one-sided story from my regular beat, which is Russia.

The Moscow correspondent had visited Siberia to follow Russian protest leader, anti-corruption campaigner and Western-media darling Alexei Navalny on his tour of the country. And his, predictably, gushing profile was based on the writer’s conversations with Navalny's young supporters in the town of Kemerovo.

The standpoint chronicles how the “opposition politician’s campaign gathers steam.” Which, given Navalny is only polling at 2 percent in Russia, is like editorializing from a parallel universe. The text falsely presents him as a liberal, while ignoring his hardline ultra-nationalist views. Which fits with the Guardian’s long-standing habit of presenting all of Putin’s opponents as saints, no matter their real backgrounds. A fetish which sees bandit capitalists and corrupt ex-officials, who have done a runner with their filthy lucre, rebranded as modern-day Sakharovs.

Furthermore, when describing a meeting staged by “Ksenia Pakhomova, a bright-eyed, garrulous 23-year-old” the author admits how “all but one of the eight attendees was under 18.” Which is the legal age for voting in Russia. Now, forgive me for using common sense, but what sort of editor regards feedback from kids who can’t even cast ballots as a legitimate way of analyzing the political situation in any country? And can you imagine the ridicule RT would receive if it used kids from a secondary school in Yorkshire, who are concerned about the environment, to suggest the UK Green Party's campaign was"gathering steam."

This is the Guardian specializing in the triumph of cynicism while accusing Russian media of spreading “fake news” and railing against those it says “deny the possibility of objectivity.” Touche!

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