Covid-19 : the troubled role of the media

Digital mass media and their algorithms are so powerful that they have taken control of ideas and opinions in the world by arbitrarily deciding what is true and what is false. Example with the health crisis.

Are the dice loaded? Is world information now under the control of a few global industrial groups? The question is asked at every election, in the United States, in France and elsewhere. It is even more obvious with the health crisis.

The best and the worst

Digital social media have gradually replaced local newsletters to inform citizens. With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn, journalistic information is blending with communication, advertising, propaganda and… lies. In this shapeless magma, each user finds what he is looking for.
In a few years, journalistic information (that which is verified and cross-checked, classified and hierarchized) has given way to this monstrous mass of information managed by powerful algorithms that decide what can be published or not.
How can we find our way through it? How to sort out the true from the false? The whole question is there: who decides what is true? If I say: “God exists”, is it fake news? And who can verify? Which fact-checking can give the answer? Nobody, obviously, since it is a matter of belief. To believe is not to know.

The Trusted News Initiative (TNI)

The health crisis is an example of the gigantic disinformation enterprise carried out over the past two years by the mainstream media, which, with rare exceptions, peremptorily assert that vaccines intended to combat Covid-19 are safe. In doing so, they support the health policy of the States which impose compulsory vaccination under duress. Media, States: same fight!
But why is it that all the world’s media say the same thing at the same time on the same subjects? Why do they say that vaccines are safe and that you have to be injected with two, then three, soon four doses? Why do authorities in all countries follow the same blind logic? Why is there no scientific controversy possible on TV or in the newspapers on these subjects to balance the information?
It is simple: because the world’s major media are in the hands of a few very powerful industrial and financial groups relayed by highly paid lobbies.
These large media organizations and global technology companies have decided to join together to form a huge cartel to control information. They came together in 2019 as the Trusted News Initiative (TNI) “to protect the public and users from misinformation, especially in ‘at-risk’ times like elections.” And like health crisis management.

Tracking down misinformation

Just to be clear, TNI issued a statement with the clear title, “TNI Tackles Dangerous Vaccine Misinformation.” It goes on to say, “TNI partners will alert each other to imminently life-threatening misinformation so that targeted content can be reviewed quickly by platform managers, while publishers will ensure that they do not unknowingly pass on dangerous lies.” In other words, all the partners are working together to track down and eliminate “anti-vaccine” misinformation from their respective platforms.
The partners? They are the major news agencies that supply every newsroom in the world: Agence France Presse (AFP) Associated Presser (AP), Reuters, but also the BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Facebook, Financial Times, First Draft, Google/YouTube, The Hindu, Microsoft, Reuters, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Twitter and The Washington Post.

Conflict of interest

The case of Reuters is particularly interesting. Bought in 2007 by the Canadian group Thomson Financial, the international news agency, which became Thomson Reuters Corps. was chaired, from 2012 and 2020 by James C. Smith. Smith currently heads the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charity.
However, James C. Smith is also, since June 26, 2014 a member of the board of directors of Pfizer Inc. and one of the first investors. It should be noted that Mr. Smith is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council and a number of international advisory boards.

The return of censorship

The worst thing is not that Reuters continues to promote Pfizer’s pharmaceuticals, but that it, like its other TNI partners, intends to silence anyone who disagrees with them.
How do they do this? By doing fact-checking, which in itself is not reprehensible. But above all by practicing censorship on a large scale.
Here again, the digital giants have joined forces to fight against (supposed) disinformation on their sites.
And to fight against misinformation, there is nothing like censoring information by deleting it, purely and simply, without informing the author. And when the information seems too radical, the account holder is banned, fired, eliminated. “Your publication did not respect the standards of our community”!
Thus, little by little, an “official truth” is established, the one decided by a small group of industrialists who impose their vision of the world on us. A world shaped exclusively around their gigantic profits.
Freedom of expression? Pluralism of ideas and sources of information? Democracy?
Uh… What is this?

The media in France

While passing from the artisanal era to the industrial era, the news business has attracted industrialists of all kinds more concerned with influence and notoriety than with journalistic ethics.
In France, most of the media belong to industrial or financial groups and their concentration poses serious problems in terms of plurality of the press and therefore of democracy.
So much so that the President of the Republic has asked sociologist Gérald Bronner for a report on disinformation and conspiracy. Entitled “Enlightenment in the digital age” this document prepared by a commission of academics, lawyers and journalists was submitted on January 11 to Emmanuel Macron.
The government also adopted in 2018 a law on the manipulation of information during elections and created, a few months ago, an agency called Viginum to protect the democratic debate from external intrusions.
The Senate, for its part, has created a commission of inquiry to evaluate the impact of press concentrations on democracy. The big press bosses have been auditioned one after the other since the beginning of January 2022. It is true that these press bosses are, above all, large industrialists or financiers (many of whom depend on state orders) who have bought newspapers (paper, audiovisual, internet) to establish their reputation.
Should we believe everything that is written in the newspapers, what we hear on the radio, what we see on TV? The question of media education is raised every year during the Semaine de la presse à l’école.
The objective is to train young people to discern truth from falsehood, to develop their critical thinking skills and to become responsible cyber-citizens.
Let’s remember that the French press is largely subsidized by the government. The amount of public aid amounts to about 400 M€ per year. A manna essential to the survival of the press, but at the same time a barely disguised supervision of the State on the editorial line and thus on the information of these heavily subsidized titles.