Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Community Media


Collective social existence has become an amalgam of a little good and a lot of bad all enclosed by the decidedly ugly. This market-dominated world of ours exhibits the above unappetizing features in all societies; poor or rich, enlightened or ignorant. The states that started out as anti-markets have now become, willy-nilly, the major accomplices of the market and its logic. The state media propagates propaganda in favor of its policies while the market promotes products/services by manipulating basic human instincts. Currently the market media (private media) is getting away with murder, facilitated by the captured states. Who then is to defend the interests of the global beast (human mass)? In the long run, we believe the beast must secure, perforce, its own media outlets; audio, visual and print. Anything short of that will be an invitation to uncontrollable rampage!
In the Anglo Saxon countries it is private media that dominates, not only the dissemination of information, but also the formation of opinions and general public discourse. The state media plays only peripheral role. In the political East, as well as in the developing nations, it was/is the state media that sways opinion. Many of the other countries fall in between these two extremes. Nowadays, however, modern informatics (internet, et al) is being used by all and sundry to air alternative views stealthily, breaking the monopoly of the establishment. The likes of ‘Wikimedia’, ‘Anonymous’, ‘Adbusters’, etc are giving the top dogs of the establishment media a run for their money! We believe these are only precursors of the new ‘global community media’ to come. 
The state media’s interest is mostly to prop up the policies of the government and the state. It is in the business of, among other things, making ‘the ruling class/clans/clowns look good.’ At times and in some places, the whole charade degenerates to mere propaganda. In societies where democratic dispensation is in short supply, this malice turns off the beast, defeating the intended purpose. In places where democratic culture has taken root, the state media is checked and preserved from its complete degeneration by the general consensus of the populous. 
The private media, which serves market operators is not only crass, it is just obnoxious. Frankly speaking we don’t even want to dignify it by delving into its stupid manipulative schemes. Suffice is to say, it is a venue where market manipulators dupe the beast roughshod. It is populated by slimy characters who want to convince/sell you; poison as medicine, carcinogenic food/drinks as nutritious, tap water as spring water, war as peace, oligarchs as entrepreneurs, corruption as business, crony capitalism as free market, etc. They leverage the weaknesses of the beast (its craving for quick gratification; entertainments, sports, theatricals, etc) to achieve their short-term goal, which is to ‘make a killing’, to use their lingua. The private media has literally no conscience and will do anything for money. In short, it is an abysmal abomination, through and through! Why do you think “Adbusters’, ‘Wikimedia’, ‘Anonymous’, ‘Indymeida’, etc are becoming popular by the day?
The future, if it is to retain a semblance of harmony, must necessarily empower the beast, ie give it a voice. Admittedly, the establishment opposes such moves aggressively, but as can be inferred from the above new initiatives, the genie is already out of the bottle and it would be very difficult to put it back. Nevertheless, establishment cretins sincerely believe they can establish an Orwellian order to manage the human beast, both its body and spirit! See Bowman’s article next column. We believe the way forward for progressive humanity is to endorse/encourage ‘community media’ to articulate real needs of real people in a sustainable manner, i.e. economically, socially, culturally, environmentally, etc. The prevailing ridiculous make-belief world of the private and state media must be cut to size.
To recap, community media is; ‘any form of media that is created and controlled by a community, either a geographic community or a community of identity or interest. Community media is separate from commercial media, state run media, or public broadcasting. The fundamental premise is to engage those groups that are categorically excluded and marginalized from the media making process.’ These days, however, the categorically excluded also include the large majority of the people! In addition one must realize, unlike the state and private media, community media is always starved of resources, mostly by design. Many of the states (save the progressive ones) don’t want their ‘community media’ to become a force to reckon with and naturally private media doesn’t want its systemic manipulation exposed. In this, the two are in cahoots. In the long run, however, it is community media that can be relied on to protect the interests of the global beast. As we never tire of repeating: “The beast might not be as clever as the elites, but ultimate conscience always resides within it.” Good Day!