Editorial read: Journal #56

We never considered it useful to criticize media that seemed closer to us than those commonly called « mainstream ». If we refused to name them explicitly and to critically address their editorial line, we did not prevent ourselves in some of our analyses from situating this so-called « alternative », « independent » or « inclusive » press. It’s time to take stock. 

If so-called alternative publications, or even « slow press », which comment on the world, sometimes do interesting journalistic work, there remains something contradictory, even insoluble in the very idea of doing something else: how indeed to coexist peacefully alongside the mass press without criticizing it? How to work in both, without experiencing dissonance, but also without being disturbed by the dominant media that contribute to a part of their income? (1)but also without being disturbed by the dominant media that contribute to part of their income? 

The explanation is not complicated. The coexistence is quite serene because this alternative press does not oppose the mass press, but is part of its continuity. It is not surprising that she is invited on the sets of La Première the day before the publication of a new issue or that the media networks, in general, are open to them. The price to pay is silence on a number of issues, with an obligatory and tacit omerta on the one they cannot address under penalty of anathema and dismissal: criticism of the media (2).

The alternative press is thus a convenient catch-all, especially for those who want to ride the wave and set themselves up as a new troublemaker. Lacking a certain form of action, stuck in an editorial office at the beck and call of the government, the subject is annoyed, but can also feel targeted by the growing criticism of the mainstream media. In short, a remedy must be found. What better way then, to get back on track and still support the dominant media that employs us, than to launch into the « alternative press ». Yes! Dealing with scandals, investigating, snooping in the political world and making relays (who knows, there may be a future commitment), it is indeed exhilarating. The media scandal machine is well broken in, and one can thus enjoy both the cake and the eat it: on the one hand, one produces formatted information, on the other hand, one pretends to deviate from it by denouncing; on the one hand, one accepts censorship, serenely, knowing obviously that one cannot say everything, on the other hand, one hovers on the cloud of dissent, ready to dismantle all the cabals, embezzlements and traffics of all kinds that will not fail to come up, again and again. 

The problem is that both sides are happily flouting what is at the foundation of press freedom and the work of the journalist: « rrespect the truth, regardless of the consequences to himself, because of the public’s right to know the truth « (Munich Charter). To make it a real fourth power, and thus to analyze, describe, denounce the functioning of the structures of domination, of which the mass media are part. But it’s hard to go to the Gala of the Association of Professional Journalists with all the top brass of journalism installed, to hold after an editorial board where we criticize those who have just fed us and showered us with petits fours and champagne. 

The reaction to the censorship that Kairos is subjected to plays as a revelation of the true face of those who claim to be different, highlighting that it is only a mask they are wearing and that they are in fact the same. In general, they took a position by remaining silent, even when they were explicitly asked to react (3). It is only in the course of a letter of indignation from one of our readers addressed to the so-called alternative newspaper, that the answer of the latter — identical to a speaker of RTL or an editorialist of Le Soir or La Libre — which he transmitted to us, explicitly revealed on which side he leans: that of power, of continuity, which ensures the « career »: 

We were prevented for 9 months from entering a press conference after the « politically biased question » asked of the Prime Minister (4). Then, with the help of an attorney and with perseverance, we were able to get back to it on November 27, 2020. That day, the government control room will cut off my question in the middle of a live broadcast. Since then, my press card has been withdrawn, as well as my subsidies, following a new condition arbitrarily decided by Minister Linard. To declare that complaining and denouncing this situation is victimization and conspiracy, reveals the true role of these new media: to pretend to be different by playing the impertinence, while accepting perfectly the rules of the game of a system which they want to ensure that it makes them exist. In short, watchdogs who would like to see themselves as whistleblowers. 

Alexandre Penasse

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