For me, as a journalist, the web offers the most interesting and often most reliable sources because they are shorn of the consensual bias, and a censorship by omission, that pervades broadcasting.—John Pilger
Today, increasing numbers of people have become fed up with lies, omissions and cover-ups by both governments and the mainstream media.
One reason for the current interest in WikiLeaks is the fascination of confidential and embarrassing secrets exposed.
What constitutes the mainstream media? Twenty years ago several journalists expressed concern that the number of major news sources in America had diminished to fifty.
Today, conglomerates have bought up most of those news sources; and the number of major news sources has been reduced to six! These six control all the news reported in America and much of what gets reported in the UK and Europe.
Rupert Murdoch, one of the world's biggest media moguls, owns outlets in Australia (The Mirror), England (News of the World, Sun and the Times, BSkyB), Asia (Star TV) and the USA (20th C. Fox and Fox TV).
Murdoch's News Corp. holdings now include a lion's share of the newspaper industry in Australia, plus about one-third of British newspapers; and in the U.S. he has film and TV interests, newspapers, book publishers, sports teams, and much more. In Asia he owns Star Television.
According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, concerns about Murdoch's media control in the UK had ministers from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's party discussing ways to limit Murdoch.
Secretly recorded tapes revealed that ministers from Clegg's group criticized policy and vowed to block Rupert Murdoch's plans to expand his media empire.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, a key Clegg ally and member of the Liberal Democrat party, was stripped of responsibility for media competition issues after he was recorded boasting to undercover reporters that he had declared war on Murdoch.
Thousands of smaller media without the resources to get reportage directly rely on the major conglomerates for their news. Thus, small newspapers in Canton, Ohio or Exeter, England or Bahrain depend on the major news outlets for what they report.
This means they choose which news is important, which news they don't want reported, what kind of slant should be taken and who–among their owners and corporate advertisers–might be offended or pleased by what they report.
The recently revealed story of New York Times reporter David Rohde is an apparently justifiable example of press censorship.
In June 22, 2009, when news came that Rohde had escaped from his Taliban captors, few knew he had even been kidnapped, because for the seven months he and two Afghan colleagues were in the Taliban's hands, The Times kept that information under wraps.
Kelly McBride, who teaches ethics to journalists says she was "really astounded" by the media blackout. "It makes me wonder what else 40 international news organizations have agreed not to tell the public."
What does the reference to "alternative" media mean? It refers to newspapers, magazines, radio or television that cover news that doesn't get reported or is under-reported in the mainstream media.
A number of reliable alternative sites include news and commentary related to international issues as well as accurate and fair perspectives on the Middle East.
In addition to websites that can be visited for their alternative views, a number of writers can be relied on to report accurately and provide revealing commentary avoided by mainstream media. To view articles, simply type their names into a search engine like Google, Yahoo or MSN.
Some of the leading—always reliable–commentators include Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Gwynne Dyer, Mark Steele, Uri Avneri, Arundhate Roy, Alexander Cockburn, Ted Rall, Greg Palast, Robert Jensen, Mike Whitney, Alan Hart, Jeff Blankfort, Gilad Atzmon, Jonathan Cook, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Chris Hedges, Ramzy Baroud, Franklin Lamb, James Petras, Debbie Mennon, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Zunes, Amy Goodman, Eric Margolis, Richard Falk, Jeff Gates, Stuart Littlewood and Gordon Duff.
It’s not too late to add a useful New Year’s resolution: get some news and views that you won’t find in the mainstream media. Read a news commentary by each of these writers in 2011.
* Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the Gulf Daily News. Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.