After learning about renowned independent journalists like Matt Taibbi, Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, it was neat to see a documentary, screened privately at Ithaca College, that showed all of these truth-tellers and more in action, reporting on issues spanning years and issues and building upon the legacy that I.F. Stone left behind. And while many of the government lies I had already been aware of, there were some that I did not even know existed because of their lack of coverage in the mainstream media, particularly the lies about the mass graves of Mexican immigrants in southern Texas. It’s appalling to me that I can live just three and half hours north of Falfurrias (which is not that far for Texas) and not see any coverage in my home state of what is going on there unless I seek out independent media sources that are difficult to convince my parents and others to look at.
“All Governments Lie” and the question-and-answer session that followed got me thinking about the necessity of public television and radio that is funded by larger percentages of tax dollars. Here in the U.S., we pay so little for our public TV and radio compared to countries like Denmark, Norway, and Canada. If our media were owned by the people rather than giant, largely partisan and corrupt corporations, it would be more fair and balanced and representative of the voices of the majority in this country, as opposed to just the wealthy. In a nation that advertises its rights to free speech and free press, it seems to me that the government should be willing to sacrifice tax money that goes toward are overly enormous military budget and put it towards a public media. This thought reminded me of the idea of core state functions that Naomi Klein brings up in her book The Shock Doctrine, which details the negative impacts of privatization in the U.S. She discusses the ways in which the military and educations have been privatized, and based on this film, this same privatization has had repulsive effects on the media. There are certain things that should be categorized as core state functions and not squandered to the control of private companies with private interests. Media, while it should not be controlled by the government, should be a core state function in a way and funded by public money in the interest of the public, and then perhaps what is now considered mainstream media will start looking more like the independent media this film so accurately praises.
It is both great and necessary that we have independent media in our current society, and real journalism would be pretty much dead without it. But it’s frustrating to come to the realization that it may never become the norm that mainstream media is, with a universal audience, as the more popular an independent outlet, the more risk it runs of becoming corporatized, as the Huffington Post was. I want to see a world where independent media is the new mainstream, but in order for that to happen, it seems a more radical change in the system is required.