So this week was World Press Freedom Day. Were you celebrating? If you were you probably either own or work for a media corporation or, like so many people, you accept what the press tells you uncritically. Perhaps it simply passed you by as you were far too busy concentrating on the various elections taking place this week.

In this article I’m going to concentrate mainly on the U.K. press. For many on the left journalism has been discredited as a profession and that means, by definition, journalists are seen as agents of a right whose main job is misinformation and deception. But before I get into that, and I know most people on the left tend to take a dim view of what we have come to call, the mainstream media, it is worth sparing a thought for journalists around the World who far from being agents of their governments face harassment, imprisonment or death simply for doing their job.

Julian Assange

Of particular note in this respect is, of course, Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder currently being held in Belmarsh. We’ll return to Julian in a moment. But I want to start by just asking you to take a moment to think about the 49 journalists killed this year. They include TV reporter Adeeb al-Janani killed in an attack on Aden airport, on January 2, 2021 and Spaniards David Beriain and Roberto Fraile killed in Burkina Faso last week. It is easy for us to see journalists as “the enemy” and often they are in a political sense, but it’s equally important we don’t forget that viewing the World from the comfort of the U.K. can blind us to the very real dangers faced by journalists in other parts of the World. Not every journalist is hostile to the values we cherish – justice, equality, truth, community, and many face extreme danger to expose the injustices that governments seek to hide.

That said, the press, particularly the national press in the U.K., has, like the BBC which feeds off it, a very partial view of the World. The absolute failure of the media to defend Julian Assange, and in some cases worse to spend time they should have spent campaigning for his freedom vilifying him, may well go down as the biggest failure, of a profession to protect even its own self-interest, of all time. The coverage of his trial was minimal, to say the least, and commentary, such as there was, tended to avoid entirely the wider implications of his incarceration.

In case you need reminding Julian was the founder of Wikileaks which according to its website: “specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. It has so far published more than 10 million documents and associated analyses.” In other words, Wikileaks brings into the open documents that governments would prefer you did not see. Doing this of course, means that Wikileaks is not popular with governments around the World who rather like keeping their dirty laundry out of the public eye.


Wikileaks was founded in 2006 but it was not until 2010 that the US Government began legal action against it. This followed the trial of Chelsea Manning who received a 35 year sentence for leaking documents detailing US abuses in Iraq. Ms Manning served 7 years and was released in 2017. Amnesty International note the following:

Prosecuting beyond the information leak to WikiLeaks constitutes ‘overcharging’: rather than punishing Chelsea just for the leaking offences she had already admitted to, the prosecution brought wider ideological charges against her. In doing so, the prosecution said they intended to send a harsh warning to other potential whistleblowers – an action that could prevent information about human rights abuses and wrongdoing being revealed by military personnel in future.”

In other words, Chelsea Manning’s sentence was intended to ensure that military wrongdoing would not find its way into the public domain in future.

The United States indicted Julian Assange in 2012 on charges of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack into a Government computer. He was then hounded through Europe eventually seeking sanctuary in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. In 2019 after Ecuador removed him from the embassy he was arrested in London where he has been held in Belmarsh Prison for the past two years. Despite the US losing their attempt to extradite him earlier this year he remains in prison whilst they prepare an appeal.

Now, if they believed in press freedom, as they often assert, you would probably think that journalists around the globe would have rallied around Julian Assange. Sadly, their belief in press freedom seems to stop at their ability to print or say whatever they like free from criticism. Whilst a few journalists have championed his cause seeing his indictment as an attempt to stifle investigative journalism, the more common journalistic response has been indifference. There are a couple of possible explanations for this. It could be that journalists genuinely believe that Wikileaks should be hounded out of existence for it represents a threat to the lives of the laughably named intelligence community. It could be that the majority of journalists are so far removed from anything that might reasonably be called investigative journalism that this story and its implications simply has no meaning for them. Or, it could be that journalists, particularly in the mainstream media, are so far embedded within the pockets of the rich and powerful that they see their role as defending their interests not investigating them.

Elite journalists

According to the Sutton Trust’s analysis journalists in the U.K. are 6 times more likely to be private school educated than the general population with 43% being educated at private schools (compared to around 7% generally). Amongst newspaper columnists who, as the Sutton Trust notes are in “a unique position to shape the political agenda, as they are able to share their views on the political issues of the day on widely read and shared platforms”, some 44% are private school educated. The fact is that whilst journalists are not exclusively from a particular strata of the population, many are. Whilst they do not necessarily share a World view it is clear that there is a dominant view of the World which is supported by the national print media, the broadcast media and many of those who pursue a career in politics.

When journalists such as the BBC’s Huw Edwards mount a defence of the media it is that “critics imagine a world in which thousands of BBC journalists – of all backgrounds, nationalities, outlooks – work to a specific political agenda ‘dictated’ by ‘a few powerful individuals’ as one commentator insisted recently on social media.” I’m not sure most people do imagine that is the case. The reality is that corporate socialisation is rather more insidious. As Noam Chomsky famously said to Andrew Marr who was aghast that he was seen as anything other than an objective reporter: “I don’t say that you’re self-censoring – I’m sure you believe everything you are saying; but what I’m saying is, if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you are sitting.

You might recall a short while ago as Covid raged Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis opened the show with a customary monologue. But, this time she was angry at the government’s inactivity over Senior Advisor Dominic Cummings blatant flouting of the lockdown rules. In it she said: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The whole country can see that, and it is shocked that the government cannot. The longer ministers, and Prime Minister, tell us he worked within them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be. He was the man, remember, who always ‘got’ the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of ‘elite’ on those who disagreed. He should understand that public mood now. One of fury, contempt, and anguish. He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools. And has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them. The Prime Minister knows all this, but despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls, and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it.

BBC apologists

Surely, it could be argued, if a presenter on the BBC’s flagship show could be so critical of a senior advisor this is irrefutable proof that the BBC is impartial? But, if that were true what happened next would not have. Maitlis was removed as presenter the next night (although she claims this was her decision – yeah, right!) and the BBC immediately issued an apology for allowing journalism to get in the way of their role as government propagandists or in their own words: “we feel that we should have done more to make clear the introduction was a summary of the questions we would examine, with all the accompanying evidence, in the rest of the programme. As it was, we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality.“ Fair enough, you might think, here’s the BBC asserting its impartiality. But, the BBC rarely issues apologies when it gets things wrong about the left. They routinely engaged in amplifying lies about Jeremy Corbyn and never felt the need to reprimand a presenter. So, what was going on?

Jonathan Cook, in an excellent article on this issue, sums up the issue succinctly: “The usefulness of the Maitlis “row” is not in weighing whether she was impartial or partial on this occasion, or conversely whether her BBC bosses were enforcing impartiality rules or being partial. Rather, it helps to shed light on whether the BBC and its journalists ever actually aspire to be impartial, and whether impartiality is even possible.” Cook brilliantly shows how the carefully cultivated image of journalists as ‘holding power to account’ is fundamentally flawed. Journalists, he points out, and as one of the better examples of the genre we can assume he knows, are driven by their own career goals in much the same way other professions are. The ‘currency’ of journalism is access. In the case of political journalism it is access to senior politicians, particularly those in government.

It is not just access to government that drives journalism but also ensuring that they reflect a worldview acceptable to their proprietors and advertisers. In the case of the BBC, of course, officially there are no proprietors. But, naturally a government with close links to big business will also reflect the worldview of the same small elite. As Cook says: “The room for ideological manoeuvre enjoyed by newspaper journalists is a narrow window on issues either that the billionaires and advertisers do not care strongly about or that they disagree among themselves about. This is what journalists are typically referring to when they speak of “freedom of the press”.

For Cook, the Maitlis affair is an example of how journalists are taught how to behave. The message for those coming through the ranks was quite clear. If somebody as high profile as Maitlis can be publicly reprimanded then if you want to get on tread very carefully indeed. The entire business of the mass media is to ensure that political debate is conducted within a very tightly controlled set of parameters. But, you knew that already. I think it’s safe to assume if you are reading my blog and have got this far in this article you are searching for alternate voices. The problem for those of us on the left is that, with a few honourable exceptions, we did not go to the right schools or have the family connections to become, let’s say, a Spectator or Telegraph journalist despite lacking any journalistic training.

Alternative media

We do not have access to the huge amounts of money needed to subsidise a National newspaper. There is a view that newspapers are effectively the playthings of a handful of billionaires. As OpenDemocracy have detailed the majority of Britain’s National press is owned by 6 billionaires. More importantly, advertising revenue makes up nearly 50% of their revenue leading to a situation such as that described by Peter Oborne: “From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged…Its account, I have been told by an extremely well informed insider, was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is ‘the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend.‘”

There is a left-wing media. Many people support The Morning Star,  The Canary and Double Down News, and, of course, this blog. The Canary is possibly one of the biggest success stories. Started on a budget of £500 by 2016 it could claim 7,532,000 page views, according to By comparison, The Guardian  had 387,701,000, whilst the BBC topped the pile with a staggering 1,986,494,000. What is clear is that, despite The Canary, the news is dominated by the mainstream. That is why freedom of the press remains freedom of the establishment to do more than tell you what to think, but can through a variety of techniques tell you, well not you exactly because by being here you are rejecting it, but the wider population what to think about.

This is dangerous. It’s dangerous for our democracy, it’s dangerous for pioneers like Julian Assange who the mainstream abandon because he provides a mirror on themselves that they do not want to look at and it is dangerous, most of all, for those who uncritically accept whatever they are told because nowhere are they told that questioning the dominant narrative is an appropriate response to real lives that are more like existing than living.

Another great site by the Dangerous Globe

Another great site by the Dangerous Globe

A free to use, comprehensive and independent search engine which is about to become your favourite.

TheReal.News is a search engine that has had the spin removed. We use sites that we have studied for some time and monitored for integrity and we don’t use sites that we have seen which either spin or lie their way to the front page. Everybody is biased in some way or they aren’t breathing, but Bias and Bollocks are not the same thing.

People that tell the truth are quite easy to find because they cite references and sources to back up what they say. The opposite is also true.

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Dave Middleton
I'm Dave Middleton. I am a member of the Labour Party (until they catch up with me) and like to think of myself as left-wing. My Twitter account is @DavMidd Please do feel free to email me about this blog at
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2 years ago

Another well written article. Precise and to the point, no holds barred. Great, we need more blogs like yours.