Free the Press

Description

After raising the alarm on the corrupt billionaire press that profits from our division and consistently fails to tell the truth on the climate and ecological crisis, we started a national debate in the process. Mainstream media is under the spotlight right now more than ever, and the role it plays in upholding our democracy. 

We cannot survive, meaningfully and with compassion, when there is a revolving door between our government and a billionaire press that is obsessed with profit, and fuelled by hostility.

Why do we need to Free The Press?

Four billionaires control the majority of our national newspapers.

These papers set the agenda for the rest of the news media – what we see on TV news is shaped by these billionaires 

These four non-dom oligarchs [meaning they don’t pay tax in this country] consistently SCAPEGOAT minorities, OBSCURE THE TRUTH on the climate crisis and LIE to sell papers and clicks.

Whilst we become even more divided and disillusioned, they grow in power and wealth. They have unfettered access to our elected officials and they undermine our democracy with their propaganda & hate.

We are in desperate need of a free, fair and democratic press that serves the public interest.

Who are these billionaire owners?

Rupert Murdoch

  • Coming soon News UK TV channel
  • The Sun
  • The Times
  • The Sunday Times
  • Times Radio
  • talkSPORT
  • talkRADIO
  • Virgin Radio
  • The Wall Street Journal (US)
  • The New York Post (US)
  • Fox News (US)
  • Plus 170 newspaper & magazine titles in Australia…

Lord Rothermere

  • The Daily Mail
  • The Mail on Sunday
  • The Metro
  • The i

Sir Frederick Barclay

  • The Daily Telegraph
  • The Sunday Telegraph
  • The Spectator

Baron Evegeny Lebedev

  • The London Evening Standard
  • The Independent 

Just 3 companies control 90% of the national newspaper market

Just 6 companies control the local newspaper market

Why is this important?

“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy” – Walter Cronkite, Journalist

Independent, unbiased journalism is vital to a functioning democracy. 

Multiple reports have exposed the close relationships these corporations have with government officials. 

Rupert Murdoch or his employees met with members of the government a staggering 206 times in the last 2 years alone, and in a 7 week period in Autumn 2020, Murdoch & co met with five senior ministers 7 times. 

The grossly undemocratic relationships between previous Prime Ministers, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair has been well documented. And Boris Johnson, Michael Gove & George Osborne have all had long standing employment at these papers, both before and during being in office.

We did not elect Rupert Murdoch, but nonetheless he wields enormous power over us.

In his 2012 report following the phone hacking scandal, Lord Justice Leveson stated that the UK press had failed to perform its ‘vital role’ of holding power to account.

How can we expect to have free and fair elections when our national newspapers bombard us with propaganda?

How can we trust our news sources to hold our governments to account, when they are driven by the private, personal interests of their billionaire owners?

What does this mean for the climate?

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state” – Noam Chomsky

What is screamed at us from the headlines naturally shapes our conversations, our interactions and our understandings of the world

We are experiencing an existential crisis. The climate emergency is the biggest threat to have ever faced humanity. But our press barons – who pretend to speak for us, to represent us, to fight for us – have failed again and again to equip us with the facts to help us understand the reality and act accordingly. They have done so cynically, failing in their duty to their readership and to the public. 

Rupert Murdoch – who sits on the board of Genie Oil and Gas – consistently spreads climate denial in his American, Australian & British outlets. 

The Daily Mail has also repeatedly published misleading or outright false information on the climate crisis, The Telegraph platforms and emboldens known climate deniers, and none of our national papers give this crisis the attention appropriate to the scale of the emergency. 

We hope rebels across the country will join together in a series of dispersed, slowly escalating Local Group/Affinity Group actions culminating in a sequence of high impact actions towards the end of June – when we will see AGs get creative and make headlines once again, and we will bring rebels and allies out onto the streets of London for a mass action that speaks truth to power.

The best thing is, we’re not the only ones in this fight. We will be positioning ourselves alongside multiple inspirational organisations who have the same goal – for a democratic media that works in the public interest – uniting our voices and strengthening our position. We will bring what makes XR, well, XR, and together we have a real opportunity to push for genuine, historic change.

People power and direct action works. We must keep up the pressure.

It’s time to free the press. Join us.

How to get involved

Join the telegram chat for updates on the mass action

If your LG/AG is interested in a more creative or spicey buildup action, email theywantusdivided@protonmail.com

Keep an eye on comms coming through your Local Groups for resources and guidance to get active before June – and help us tell the press we’re coming for them.

Join the UK M&M broadcast channel for key media updates

Resources

Read the Creative Brief: a Call to Action for XR Allies

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