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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Sarah Ditum

I think you caught everything I feel about ML there. Aggravatingly, they come from a position that's basically right, and push it so hard I've often lost patience by the end. They're pushing their vulgar Marxist line on the people they criticise to the point that they tend to lose focus on the text they're ostensibly talking about. And the Buddhism stuff is too much for me, too.


I call them DirtyLens. However sympathetic I may be to some of their ostensible ideals, their methods are suspect and their intellectual standards pretty low.

Ian Sinclair

There are several misguided and predictable criticisms in your review, but your claim that the book "feels very out of date" is truly baffling.

A criticism so bizarre it verges on the unawerable.

The book came out in August 2009, and although I don't have a copy to hand, I'm fairly sure there are many references from earlier in 2009. I don't think you will be able to find a more up to date book!

Qu: how would you make the book more up to date????


Ian Sinclair

You say "However, time and again the authors use as evidence, and without questioning, material published in one outlet to attack another."

I think this quote from Media Lens's key influence - Herman's and Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent - goes some way in explaining this potential paradox:

"That a careful reader looking for a fact can sometimes find it with diligence and a sceptical eye tells us nothing about whether that fact received the attention and context it deserved, whether it was intelligible to the reader or effectively distorted or suppressed. What level of attention it deserved may be debatable, but there is no merit to the pretence that because certain facts may be found in the media by a diligent and sceptical researcher, the absence of radical bias and de facto suppression is thereby demonstrated."

David Edwards - Media Lens

Thanks for the review. I've discussed a couple of points here:



David Edwards - Media Lens

Great post from a reader, Glen, here:



Ian, David: thanks for stopping by and putting in links to other comments on this.
The points you raise in your book need to be debated.
Specifically on the criticism/question from Ian regarding "out of date" - this was one of the bits that disappointed me.
I felt too much of the material covered old and familiar ground and the weighting given to incidents such as the Guardian's Chomsky interview were disproportionate; especially considering how old it was.
But then the authors obviously felt it was serious enough to warrant its inclusion.
What I would have liked to have seen was the model applied to reporting of the collapse of the financial systems as this is THE story from the last year.
Also; there seemed little space to look at the role of new media & web 2.0.
That's what made it feel out of date to me: that in between the copy deadline and the publishing deadline important 'stuff' happened and we
Finally: good quote regarding the use of media sources.
I'm not totally convinced. It allows you to paint the media as a single machine while at the same time using conflicting articles as evidence of misreporting.
With the sheer volume of material produced I guess anyone can found 'evidence' for a particular argument so I appreciate that Chomsky & Herman wish to keep us focussed on the big picture.


The book also seemed out of date in many of its arguments. For example in phrasing such as:

“the BBC is part of a system of thought control complicit in the deaths of millions of people abroad, in severe political oppression at home, and in the possible termination of human life on this planet”.

(Incidentally, Steven Poole, the author of Unspeak, described this as “Childishly apocalyptic polemic” in his review of the book for the Guardian.)

I'd argue that Medialens's notion of a "system of thought control" is decades out of date, given the work of cognitive scientists (etc) since at least the 1980s. The crude application of the Propaganda Model also seems out of date.

As for the "evidence" which Medialens claim supports its arguments, there's an interesting comment at the link below, which I think goes some way to explaining why many people (including the reviewer, here, it appears) found aspects of the book simplistic and sanctimonious:


Steven Poole's Guardian review: http://tinyurl.com/ykhzb5g

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