By XHABIR DERALLA
The war in Ukraine has shown the value, but also the full weight of the journalistic work, of the media. Professional journalists have stood out in the strongest of contrasts, who risk their own lives to get to the facts and to announce them to the world. In a world that is under continuous attack of the increasingly better organized and ever more violent far right, the media are the last refuge for the facts. And the first place where powerful politicians and tradespeople with influence put their claws.
Journalists and their editorial offices are the first targets of any attack, regardless of whether it’s about politics or about war. They are the battlefield of the hybrid war against democracy and human rights that is led by dictators such as Putin and a dozen like him, scattered around the world, smaller, bigger, hidden or overt. Political, military, economic and environmental crises have given space to the media, but have also turned them just as much into a target of attacks and control. Because:
“He who controls information, controls the world” (Dr. Stephen Franklin in “Babylon 5”).
Or, even better:
“He who controls the media, controls the mind” (Jim Morrison).
Media are the modern Golgotha where facts are crucified.
Propagandists with a journalist badge are the carnifexes that hammer the nails onto progressive intellectuals, politicians, activists and their colleagues in journalism. Technological advancement has brought unlimited possibilities for timely information. Events can be followed in real time. No one can hide from the cameras.
At the same time, technological advancement has also provided unlimited possibilities for spreading of propaganda and disinformation. As events can be followed in real time, so can facts be manipulated in real time.
Hence, the world has come to the time of post-truth, when emotions decide about the “truth” of the facts.
This is an era of 24-hour news “entertainment”, when the line between facts and propaganda often doesn’t exist, and all that is wrapped in “objective” and “unbiased” news in which “balance” is established between stakeholders, that is, sources.
The false balance in media reporting has become the main launching platform for propagandists who in this unfortunate expression have found excellent ground for relativizing the facts and reality. Accordingly, we have come to the absurd.
“Balanced” media give five minutes to victims, but also five minutes to offenders. That’s fair reporting. With the difference being that the victims usually can’t even speak out, as they are intimidated, injured or – dead.
Media that create and distribute disinformation and propaganda are incomparably more visible and more present. They have more money, often even “black”, don’t comply to professional and ethical standards and – have no responsibility. Among other things, that is the reason why they are also quicker and infiltrate everywhere.
On the other side are those that oblige themselves to ethical and professional standards, don’t hide in the shadow of anonymity and are characterized by a clear editorial policy, with responsibility and principal. In order for them to produce media content according to all those principles, they need more funds and more time. And they don’t have enough of either of them.
Propagandists from their trenches and basements are mobilizing small armies of trolls who tirelessly hate and threaten on the social networks.
Their noise suffocates the facts. Even more frightening, the hate speech, threats and frequent attacks discourage journalists, hence they often give up the fight for professional and responsible journalism. It seems that the media are pressed from both sides – from the centers of power and from the enraged and increasingly less literate public. In fact, the source is the same, no matter how much it doesn’t seem so.
The first task of propaganda is to sway people in their search for facts. Once they succeed in that, they can easily baffle their search for values and shake their trust in institutions, science, justice. Reshape their reality.
For the propaganda, it’s quite enough to “prove” that there is no one truth, that there are always at least two truths. That “they are all the same”. And that there is always a “but”.
Wrong. Totally wrong. There are no two truths and not all are the same. There is no “but”. An aggressor is an aggressor, a killer is a killer, a rapist is a rapist, a victim is a victim. The facts are simple. Realizing them can be difficult. And then their interpretation. But the rapist, killer, aggressor is not the same as their victims. Never. Little Tanya from Mariupol cannot be blamed for any other war in the past, present or future. There are no truths about her. Only one is the truth. She died of thirst, beside her mother’s dead body, under the ruins of her home that was bombed by the Russian aggressors.
The idea for “at least two truths” is a propaganda trick of those who want to relativize criminal acts. Facts are facts. Propaganda is propaganda.
We can start from here. Or finish.
Translation: N. Cvetkovska