A truly free press should not have interference from external sources. That is the criteria needed because if information is presented factually, without bias then, in theory, any ulterior motives cannot possibly be achieved.  A free press should also be one that represents all people. Of all ethnic background, class, religion and whatever else

Reporters Without Borders condemns a ban on media reports that conflict with official accounts of armed attacks and operations by Jihadi militants. The ban …

Does Britain have a free press? For some, even the question will be ridiculous. When you compare Britain to Egypt, for example, where journalists are arrested and newspapers opposing the government are shut down. In that way, it can seem we have a free press. You could argue that to an extent we have a diverse representation, with our national left center and right wing newspapers.

 

If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion.’

Literary Censorship in England’ -George Orwell

 

In many ways though, Britain does not have a free press. There are no overt operations to silence journalists, what we have is far more secretive.  In the past, the media has chosen not to report select disastrous events, ones in which the country has a stake. The 1975-1976 Invasion of East Timor saw hundreds of thousands of lives lost. Britain supported its aggressors by providing arms and successfully kept the invasion out of its headlines. This Orwellian control is present today.  In 2014, Britain slipped 5 places down the global rankings for freedom of press, due to the Government’s censorship order on The Guardians Snowden files.

Noam Chomsky, in 1996 outlined that the Mass Media  “brainwashes under freedom”  by use of censorship and systematically suppressing facts. When facts are presented, the information and context is distorted. Chomsky’s Propaganda Model ‘predicts that corporate-owned news media will consistently produce news content that serves the interests of established power.’

It’s all about ownership.

So called media moguls have a huge stake in the British media. Just three companies (News UK, DMGT and Trinity Mirror) control nearly 70% of national newspaper circulation. It’s no surprise that newspapers are relatively right wing, when these wealthy business owners have a huge grasp.

What does the future look like?

As much as it pains me to say, I believe it’s not possible to have a completely free press. Although credible journalists will say that their aim is to always shine a light on the truth, there will always be an element of bias, often controlled by the powerful wealthy business men and politicians.

In some ways there has been some progress. Social media has been an important factor in giving us access to both sides of a story, from people who are directly affected. Further, Twitter gives us access to news that doesn’t make the headlines. Perhaps a truly free press is obtainable, without the British media.

 

Aroob Sajjad

 

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