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David Edwards and David Cromwell of Media Lens receive the Gandhi Foundation Peace Award, 2007

Media Lens is a media analysis website based in the United Kingdom. It was established in 2001 to highlight what its founders consider to be "serious examples of bias, omission or deception in British mainstream media", with a primary emphasis on media intended to be impartial (BBC, Channel 4 News) or generally thought of as liberal (The Guardian, The Independent), and to encourage members of the public to challenge the relevant journalist, editor, newspaper or broadcaster. It is run by editors David Cromwell and David Edwards. The editors encourage polite and constructive engagement with journalists and discourage abusive emails.

The website is maintained by webmaster Oliver Maw, and is financed through voluntary subscription and donations from grant-funding bodies. The Media Lens editors have collaborated on two books, Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media (Pluto Books, London, 2006) [1] and Newspeak in the 21st Century (Pluto 2009).

In 2007, Media Lens was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award. The award was presented by Denis Halliday, former United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq, and himself a recipient of the award in 2003.

Contents

'Propaganda model'

The editors of Media Lens claim that "mainstream newspapers and broadcasters provide a profoundly distorted picture of our world" and act as a "de facto propaganda system for corporate and other establishment interests". However, they strongly reject the idea that this might be the result of a conspiracy, or that mainstream journalists may be guilty of self-censorship and conscious lying. Instead, they base their media analyses on Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's 'Propaganda model' which seeks to explain systemic bias in the media in terms of structural economic causes, and which proposes that news passes through five conceptual filters before publication. They state that

"We all have a tendency to believe what best suits our purpose; highly paid, highly privileged editors and journalists are no exception. In any case, professionals whose attitudes and opinions most closely serve the needs of corporate power, whether in media institutions or elsewhere, are more likely to be filtered through to positions of authority within such institutions." [1]

In regular "Media Alerts", the two editors highlight what they see as incidents of bias, often encouraging email or letter-writing campaigns. The editors also frequently engage in dialogue with British journalists. Media Lens hosts a message board and a discussion forum, used for dissection of political and media issues. Their media alerts, which are free, are distributed worldwide to around 6,000 people.

Criticism

Media Lens has been criticised by Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor of The Observer, as "controlling Politburo lefties who insist that the only acceptable version of the truth is theirs alone and that everybody else should march to the same step and sing the same (old party) song". Beaumont states the Media Lens does not engage in dialogue with the targets of their criticism, but rather exploits the media to create a virtual soap box for their views. Beaumont accused the group of a campaign intended to silence John Sloboda and his Iraq Body Count project, because it produced a victim count lower than[2] the academic surveys on the casualties during the Iraq War published in the The Lancet by academics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. [3]

Media Lens and its methods have been regularly criticised by The Times commentator Oliver Kamm, who described the organisation as "a shrill group of malcontents who exploit the patience of practising journalists", and its practices as "pernicious and anti-journalistic".[4] Kamm took issue with their criticism of a review of the film Flags of Our Fathers, published by The Independent.[4] Kamm challenged Media Lens' editors' knowledge of source material relevant to the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and claimed this was "a subject wholly outwith Cromwell's competence."[2] David Cromwell wrote further on the debate in January 2008. [3]

Praise

  • Peter Barron former Editor of the BBC's Newsnight and currently Head of PR in Europe for Google: "Another organisation that tries to influence our [Newsnight's] running orders is Medialens... In fact I rather like them. David Cromwell and David Edwards, who run the site, are unfailingly polite, their points are well-argued and sometimes they're plain right[5]."
  • Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Regular critical analysis of the media, filling crucial gaps and correcting the distortions of ideological prisms, has never been more important. Media Lens has performed a major public service by carrying out this task with energy, insight, and care.[6]
  • Edward S. Herman, Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania: “Media Lens is doing an outstanding job of pressing the mainstream media to at least follow their own stated principles and meet their public service obligations[6].”
  • John Pilger, journalist and film-maker: “The creators of Media Lens, David Edwards and David Cromwell, assisted by their webmaster, Olly Maw, have had such an extraordinary influence since they set up the site in 2001 that, without their meticulous and humane analysis, the full gravity of the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan might have been consigned to bad journalism's first draft of bad history."[6]

Conflict with Times Newspapers

On 7 July 2008 Peter Wilby reported in The Guardian that The Times' legal manager Alastair Brett had asked the editors of Medialens to remove emails received from Bronwen Maddox which they had incorporated into an article on her comments regarding Iran. This the editors did. Brett added that Maddox had received "vexatious and threatening emails from visitors to Media Lens", and threatened an application for a high court injunction to prevent their users from contacting Miss Maddox.[7]

Books

  • Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media London, Pluto Press, 2005 ISBN 9780745324838
  • Newspeak in the 21st Century London, Pluto Press, 2009 ISBN 9780745328935

See also

References

External links








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