The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 10th March 2017

Managing the news

THE DEPARTMENT for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently lost a 13-month legal battle and has been forced to release secret documents illustrating the tactics they use to control and manipulate the media. The documents reveal that the DWP monitors and analyses both mainstream and social media to reduce and manage negative coverage. The documents show the DWP have managed to kill hundreds of stories by making sure that they are not reported on.

The DWP had refused to release the reports since the Disability News Service (DNS) originally requested them in September 2015, stating they were “commercially sensitive”.

Last weekend around 250,000 people from all over the country marched through London to protest at a new round of NHS cuts — but the BBC covered this only as a minor item in its London local news. Most of the other news agencies did a bit better but not much.

We are well aware now of the BBC bias against Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn — and the bourgeois media are giving out the message loud and strong that this country has no business having a left-wing leader of a major left-wing party, even though he has the support of hundreds of thousands of people.

The Israeli government has been caught out by a whistleblower paying agents to suppress news and information about the genocide they are inflicting on the Palestinian people — so that now many established news agencies, universities and political leaders are terrified even to mention the word Palestine for fear of being swamped with accusations of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and supporting terrorism.

Some leaders of the Remain camp are portraying all opposition to the European Union (EU) as racist and jingoist, whilst the EU continues to crush workers with austerity throughout the continent and especially in Greece.

In the United States, Donald Trump is threatening to restrict press criticism and is inventing non-existent terrorist atrocities to back his racist and Islamophobic agenda.

His opponents are riposting with lurid tales of Russian interference in getting Trump elected and trying to take over control of the USA. Both sides are using anti-Russian paranoia to justify NATO aggressions around the globe.

Fake news stories abound in the media, especially in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. How do we sort the truth from the lies? It is even harder when skilled manipulators weave some grains of truth into their fictions to make them more credible and they have a keen ear to what they think will resound with popular prejudices.

Nor does it help when many issues are complex and media managers on both sides are at best carefully editing what they admit to and at worst are downright lying — as with the controversies around Trump where both sides are lying.

We have to be vigilant. The working class in Britain — and most of the western world — cannot be deceived about the effects of the austerity cuts. They don’t need to read about the results of the cuts to the NHS, to benefits and to wages; they live it every day and if the media tells lies they stop believing the media. It is the middle class that gets fooled.

It is important to get out and about on the streets, to talk to people. When you are part of a huge march and rally that gets little or no press coverage you know that the media is lying to you.

On social media fake news is usually exposed fairly quickly but it is important to take note of the sources of reports, to compare different reports of the same events from different news agencies. There is an old saying that “the truth will out” and social media can speed that happening.

But there is a danger that too many people will completely lose faith in all the media and lack confidence that there is anything they can do to change things, focusing their attention instead on trash news about celebrities and sports.

That is where the elevation of Corbyn to the Labour leadership has helped to restore some confidence to workers.

And it is also where our newspaper is important for readers, printing news from other comrades in struggles around the world to help you sort out what is really going on.