Well over a million Canadians will have read The National Post or The Globe and Mail this past weekend. Socially conscious readers may have noticed that a major event, the World Social Forum (WSF), went unreported by our national dailies on both Friday, the opening day of the forum, and Saturday, the heaviest circulation day for the papers.
Maybe it is the case that there is nothing about the WSF that is deemed fit to print. Perhaps if asked, Globe and Post editors would citeirreconcilable differences between the interests they represent and those represented by the WSF. Herein would be found an admission, however: a cocktail of bias, partisanship and ideology. For if they were to admit a reason or motive for lack of coverage, they would be contradicting their liberal and objective raison d'etre.
How else are readers to construe the silence of our only two national newspapers but as a concerted act of censorship? The lone sentence that was published in this context came, rather fittingly, from the National Post's arch-conservative columnist Diane Francis. As she discussed the World Economic Forum (WEF, taking place January 21-25, in Davos, Switzerland), Francis made a passing and derisive comment about the WSF:
That same week, the world's impoverished or more accurately, those who represent them on expense accounts, will be gathering at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India, to trash and demonize globalization as well as those in Davos.
The WEF, whose membership includes CEOs from the world's 1,000 largest corporations, has a history, dating back to 1970, of influencing the direction of economic and, consequently, social policy, worldwide. Identifying the alarming consequences of public policy so influenced, world civil society leaders created the WSF as a counter to the WEF four years ago.
Francis announces that she, rather than join the demonizers, is going to Switzerland, where she can rub elbows with the world's elite. Through her column, Francis manages to distance her paper from the leftist Globe and Mail. Indeed, where The Globe and Mail managed to maintain strict silence with respect to their censorship efforts, Francis and the National Post justified their own censoring by proclaiming their allegiance to corporations and capital.
This censorship and accompanying justification for it can actually be seen as encouraging for those tuned in to the real world. In part, this becomes clear when we assess how Francis distorts the intentions of the WSF in order to bolster her apologetics.
Consider the following: the WSF purports to represent the underprivileged, the oppressed, and, according to Francis, the world's impoverished. Their own Charter of Principles states:The alternatives proposed at the World Social Forum stand in opposition to a process of globalization commanded by the large multinational corporations and by the governments and international institutions at the service of those corporations' interests, with the complicity of national governments.
So, if the WSF is trashing and demonizing anything, it is that which gives rise to continued oppression, impoverishment, lack of human rights, illegal wars and the like. Much of the increasing gap between the world's wealthy and the world's poor is directly attributable to corporate-style globalization and its corresponding policies, according to civil society researchers and activists.
In effect then, Francis is providing us with a false justification, due to her distortion on the one hand, of the aims of the WSF, and, on the other, the measurable consequences of WEF-like gatherings.
How are we to respond to the censorship and false justification for it?
There are numerous responses to this one, all of which are contingent upon the level of our commitment to our responsibilities as citizens, and as human beings. Getting actively involved, in some capacity, with the civil society movement is a first step. A boycott of our national newspapers accompanied by a campaign of protest against blatant censorship is another line of action.
The only way to prevent this process from repeating itself and it has been repeating itself is by raising the social costs attributable to continued dishonesty, partial news coverage and censorship on the part of our news providers. Only the public can raise this bar, and only the public will suffer if we fail to raise it.
Francis and her cohorts are all too aware that they are a part of theprocess of globalization to which the WSF is proposing alternatives. It is incumbent upon Canadian mainstream journalists to know their place in this process. Neither The Globe and Mail nor the National Post can offer a rational criticism of the WSF or the more pervasive movement of which it is a part. Left with little else, all they can offer is silence through censorship or, as in the case of Francis, distortion and lies. So long as Canadian publications are owned by large corporations, with boards of directors who are among our ruling elite, the demand will be that the ideology of these elites be protected by their cadre of journalists cum mandarins.
Perhaps those Canadians who are aware of the tacit censorship campaign of our only national newspapers will voice their concerns over this recent Orwellian exercise. The 21st century, while young, has given rise to new methods of propaganda with old aims: the advancement and protection at all costs of elite interests. It would be ineffective to counter their silence-through-censorship with our own, for there is a tangible difference between the silence of the corporate media on vitally important social matters, and the silence of the population in response to this. Their silence or derision speaks volumes; ours only gives the mainstream media carte blanche to print the news as they see or don't see fit.
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