According to TIME Magazine, the world is in the midst of an information holocaust — a “war on truth” in what had become parlance in an industry being torn apart by a crisis of relevance. If there is any war being waged it is all in the heads of the captains of these sinking boats. This time, TIME had overdone it — put up characters associated with their own kind as 2018’s “Person of the Year”. But of course, in remaining consistent with the assertion that a “War on Truth” is raging all over the planet, the “heroes” of the year ought to be media people.
Indeed, if there is one thing Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, this year’s Philippine contribution to TIME‘s diminishing brand equity can be credited for, it is popularising the practice of Big Corporate News organisations making the news about themselves. Ressa, of course, is renowned for a massive well-funded global campaign to create a cult of personality around herself. This TIME spiel represents the pinnacle outcome of that campaign. But in acceding to Ressa’s string-pulling global roadshow spanning the last several years, TIME too had succumbed to this nefarious practice of making itself the news.
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Never mind that Ressa stands accused of tax evasion. Never mind that Rappler has long attracted the ire of real journalists for giving an entire industry a bad name. Never mind that the idea that “press freedom” is “under threat” in the Philippines escapes crtical challenge coming from observers and analysts outside the media industry. Ressa, as the circus TIME spins today takes pains to highlight, is a media person. That makes her, following the now all-too-familiar journalist-as-hero narrative, exempt from paying taxes.
Mainstream media people still don’t get it. The reason they and their dinosaur organisations are trapped in a rapid spiral to the ground is not because of some “conspiracy” against them. It is because they failed to anticipate the competition. Ironic indeed, considering that TIME itself had long recognised the potential power of the Internet as a force in the democratisation of mass communication. As recently as 2010, TIME even named Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “Person of the Year”. Zuckerberg had, as we are being told now, gone on to be regarded as one of the “enablers” of the purported “disinformation” infesting the Net — the “bad guy” in the “war” the new “persons of the year” are now supposedly soldiering within.
We can see now that it is really Big Corporate Media outlets like TIME that are insulting the intelligence of their audience. If Zuck, an alumnus of this illustrious circle of TIME-bots, can go on to become part of the Axis of Evil (we are told) in an industry that once lionised him, it brings one to wonder what the latest mannequin Maria Ressa would go down in subsequent history as.
The key here is that people should hold an independent opinion about what they read in the news rather than rely on Big Corporate Media to tell them what to think. If not, they merely succumb to the same affliction that, in an irony that seems to escape Big Media’s cheerleaders, had supposedly become the 21st Century’s cognitive epidemic. One then could conclude that Big Corporate Media actually is part of the problem and, itself, one of the fuels in their own imagined “War on Truth”. Perhaps this is a fact they desperately try to cover up by propping up as “heroes” people who hail from their own industry.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.