News cycles are important; they manage to keep the majority of the news consuming public up to date with what is happening, and they are instructive – when examined closely they tell the viewer what the mainstream wants us to ignore or forget. To a certain extent most news outlets are obliged to let the public know the news and for this reason we are aware of things, but being aware of something and having an informed knowledge of it are two very different things. Mainstream media will make us aware of all the significant events and trends, but it will use a variety of techniques to focus attention on some things and divert it from others.
We are aware of the ongoing refugee crisis spreading across Europe, with tens of thousands of families now stranded in the open in the freezing cold on the French side of the English Channel, yet when was the last time this was given any serious attention by the media? The truth is that it is now on the dark side of the news cycle’s moon. Much the same can be said for the social and political revolution currently unfolding in the United States. Bernie Sanders has topped the number of individual political donations made to any potential presidential candidate in the history of US politics – a testimony to his incredible popular support and to the hunger for a real socialist political alternative – and next to nothing of this has come to our attention through the mainstream.
In England the exact same thing is happening to Jeremy Corbyn. In a country with relatively few alternative forms of media other than social media, Corbyn has been subjected a relentless pro-establishment assault from the commentariat of the right-wing press. Nothing he has done has been presented in even a neutral light; while everything he does or says that deviates even slightly from the norm – such as his anti-war stance and his position on Trident nuclear weapons – has been blown out of all proportion to confirm him as the most dangerous man in Britain.
We have known for a long time that the media comes with a bias, and for far too long too many people have simply accepted this as part of the package. Like Pavlov’s dogs we have gotten used to the power imbalance and made our peace with it. None of this defeatism is now necessary; as we have the tools at our disposal to circumvent the narrative that the establishment is trying to spoon-feed us and find alternative sources of information. In democracies it was always the case that the voting public should have been fully informed, but that has never been the case. Lives and livelihoods have always been on the line, and the difference now is that we can actually do something about it.