There is no such thing as "the news". At any time, millions of events and trends are happening around the world. Editors select a tiny handful of them and declare them newsworthy.
And, with the help of thinktanks and lobbyists, they invent stories out of thin air.
They do so in the service of an agenda. If the medium is owned by a billionaire, they select or invent stories to suit his worldview, his interests, and those of the group with which he identifies.
Even Noam Chomsky's Five Filters model is arguably too generous. Much of what hits the front pages has no connection to "raw news" at all.
This makes the BBC's habit of following the newspapers' lead all the more reprehensible.
Any news organisation that claims to be free from proprietorial control should decide for itself what is important.
We find ourselves trapped in a glass jar of the media's making, failing to see or understand the prison they have created, shouting at each other:
"You're the problem!"
"No, you're the problem!"
If anyone doubts that thinktanks (or opaquely-funded lobby groups, as they should be known) work with the media to shape the news agenda, they should read the autobiography of Madsen Pirie, founder of the Adam Smith Institute. Here's a summary of the relevant section:

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More from @GeorgeMonbiot

23 Sep
One of the bitter lessons I have learnt is that those of us who are excited by new ideas are few in number.
Many people feel deeply threatened by them, regardless of their merits or faults.
A common response to ideas I suggest for improving the way we might live is: "so you want to dictate to us", followed by invective about being a Marxist/Maoist/fascist/Nazi (sometimes all four in the same sentence).
Engaging with new ideas requires cognitive effort, which we experience as a form of pain. It's a bit like the pain barrier we must breach when we exercise hard. I suspect this is why some people associate novelty with coercion: you’re forcing me to run all that way!
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep
While the right makes a clean sweep of the institutions, the left is splintering, divided by small differences and lethal culture wars.
The right preaches individualism, yet moves as a herd.
The left preaches solidarity, yet atomises.
Most distressingly, I’m seeing friends on the left being sucked into far-right conspiracy theories: on Syria, Covid, George Soros and QAnon. Once they slip down these wormholes, they never seem to re-emerge. Conspiracism seems to be born out of frustration and despair.
Much of the creative energy of movement radicals is being sucked away. We are stressed, frayed, exhausted. Labour and the Democrats are deprived of new ideas, and appear to be solidifying around a bland, timid conformism, when we urgently need systemic change.
Read 6 tweets
17 Sep
One of the few potential benefits of Brexit, in my view, is leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. It's an unmitigated disaster. Its perverse incentives have destroyed, across the EU, hundreds of thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat.
On paper, the Westminster government's proposed Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) looks like a major improvement on CAP. But ...
What we've seen over the past few years in the UK is a complete collapse of effective regulation, monitoring and enforcement in the countryside. Soil is stripped from the land, rivers are poisoned, raptors slaughtered, and seldom does anyone even turn up, let alone take action.
Read 8 tweets
15 Sep
If this had come out at the time, it would have been as big a scandal as the Cummings trip to Barnard Castle. Or bigger. In all sorts of ways, it's disgraceful.…
What exactly is going on between Johnson and Lebedev? Why did Johnson give him a peerage? Why these visits, even during lockdown?
The fact that this visit was kept secret, and is even now classified as "personal", which makes it illegal under the Covid laws, but exempts it from the disclosure laws, should raise the hackles on everyone's necks.
Something wicked this way comes.
Read 4 tweets
15 Sep
Yes, it was satisfying to watch Ed Milliband tear into Boris Johnson last night.
But Johnson still has an 80-seat majority, though only 20.5% of the total population voted for the Conservatives.
Let's not get carried away by small victories when the whole system is crocked.
Our dysfunctional system reduces us to spectators at the theatre for five long years. It might be entertaining, but that's all it is. We have scarcely any means of affecting the decisions the government makes, even if almost all of us opposed them.
This is because our politics is based on presumed consent. Some of you voted for this government, therefore we presume that the nation as a whole consents to everything we do for the next five years.
There is no democratic basis for this presumption.
Read 5 tweets
11 Sep
Every day in this country, newspapers owned by billionaires living offshore tell us that the problems we suffer are caused not by the power of money, but by immigrants and foreign officials.
And every day millions of people believe them.
This is the mess we are in.
People tell me "it's not the newspapers' fault: they just report the news."
They don't report the news, they create it. "News" is the propaganda of the oligarch.
They do so to shape the political life of this nation, to suit their billionaire proprietors.
Every day, massive things happen - environmental disasters, theft and fraud by the very rich, power grabs and lobbying - that go unreported by the billionaire papers. Every day, they concoct scandals out of marginal issues, or out of thin air.
Read 6 tweets

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