the United Progressive Alliance government has recently announced a moratorium on disinvestment in public sector units. That's bad news for supporters of neo-liberal economics. The media has gone into a tizzy. Cassandras are at work overtime predicting a sharp fall in "economic growth". The country's fourth estate -- by and large -- has again demonstrated its propensity to take up the cudgels on behalf of its corporate chums.
Unsurprisingly, in a recent survey, a uk- based media analysis organisation found that corporate honchos in the us regularly paid media houses to get a good press. The us media's complicity in various shady businesses has been quite well-documented. In January 2005, for instance, more than a hundred newspapers in the us ran an ad issued by Wal-Mart. It was actually a detailed rebuttal of criticisms lodged by the retail behemoth's critics. It was part of a blitz by the us's largest corporation that included big-money charity -- dutifully reported -- and invitation to reporters to its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters for a "media day". The New York Times described the session as a "feisty response to critics" while even the tough talking Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it a chance for Wal-Mart to "defend" itself and "dispel myths". In recent years, the retail group has become among the largest advertisers in the us , so the media was only licking the hand that feeds it.
Wal-Mart is itching to make its foray into India. The ambition might have been stalled by the government's decision to put foreign direct investment in retail on the backburner, but it continues to nourish it, nevertheless. And going by trends, it has good support in the neo-liberalism obsessed media. The obsession is symptomatic of a deeper malaise: the media has become a lucrative industry, often owned by entrepreneurs, with other more lucrative business interests, whose class interests are no different from the commercial establishments whose advertisements provide media houses with their profits. This means corporate sponsors have a disproportionate influence over what people get to see or read -- the readers are marginal. Obviously, the sponsors don't want to support media that discusses corporate wrongdoing.
It's an unholy consensus that jumps at you from editorial columns every morning.
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