Allan Takes Aim Blog

Could lack of a free press lead to totalinarianism?

Posted on: 13 May 2013

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Could lack of a free press lead to totalitarianism ?

I hate saying it but I’ve come to the conclusion that newspapers themselves are partly to blame for their decline in popularity. On the other hand I believe newspapers could increase their popularity if they became less formulaic as they were when freedom of the press meant what it said.

Much of the decline is said to have been caused by Twitter, Facebook and online blogs. As to whether or not that is true seems to me to fall into the category that any excuse is better than none. Twitter and Facebook et al, allegedly are social news sites and though many people will disagree with me, I think them anti-social. In fact, I think Twitter and Facebook are sloganeering sites that are boons to the advertising industry. Any news you get on them shorthand inform.

Unfortunately, many newspapers editors also seem to be turning to these sites in search of news while more and more of their journalists seem to be writing in the required Twitter and Facebook style. While true that some remarks can be covered by 140 words – including spaces – I venture to suggest that while adequate enough for gossip I doubt 140 words adequate enough to give full depth of a story.

That apart, one would think Twitter and Facebook were new phenomena. Not so! Gossip has always been fashionable. But where once upon a time the places where gossip was retailed such as over a garden fences, cups of tea in the kitchen or, dare I say it, over a pint in the pub and thereafter repeated to the ears of whosoever was available to listen has been replaced by Twitter and Facebook. No doubt too, you’ve heard of African message drums. In a sense they were a form of internet although the stories they sent were not gossip.

And the story’s the thing although every story teller tells his/her story in a different way because they see it in a different light. What they consider the most important parts of the story will be seen by others as the least important and what some will see as the start of the story some will see as the end.

That said it is important to add that not all stories follow the mathematical principle that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Indeed for some story tellers the distance between start and finish is not a straight line but a series of diversions that add substance that add colour to the story and make it more interesting.

Once upon a time, but no longer, newspapers allowed such diversions. Today, unfortunately, stories that do not adhere to the straight line practice are unlikely to appear in newspapers. The result: newspapers seem to have lost their individuality. Having said that said, it is little wonder some blog sites are being written by journalists tired of having to toe a particular line.

Of the blogs on most of these websites the most interesting are written by people unaligned to a political party, religious organisation, union, military personnel et al, who do not write by rote but speak freely in hope of making the community more aware than at present of the limitations put on them by people in power.

The danger of journalism by rote whether online or in newspapers is that a particular online opinion site, newspaper, or group of newspapers, could wield undue influence and prevent communities from being exposed to new ideas. When communities end up as homogeneous, history shows how easy it is for them to become totalitarian. Let’s not take the chance of it happening here.

Comment welcome.

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2 Responses to "Could lack of a free press lead to totalinarianism?"

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