Media corporatism

Speech at the march for freedom of the press

This speech by Alexandre Penasse, written on December 28, was delivered in front of the headquarters of the Association of Professional Journalists (AJP), in Brussels, on December 29, 2021, when the extension of the press card of the Kairos journalist was refused for the period 2022–2026. It dismantles the statements of the AJP leaders, representatives of the media of the power, who take refuge behind the apparent independence of the Commission of approval, composed of the same ones, deciding who will have the right to the title of journalist, or not. It is obvious that they do not favor those who dare to do their job of searching for the truth. On December 29, those who support press freedom numbered more than 300. 

There may be 20 of you today, 50, 100. Or more. No matter, those who are here refuse to see reality through the distorting prism of the mainstream media. You have decided to take the small streams, those that the dominant flow of information is constantly trying to hide.

The Association of Professional Journalists, the AJP, whose headquarters you are in front of, if the forces of order, the dominant order, have allowed you access, is supposed to defend  » professional journalists, the quality of information and freedom of information. But one only has to look at the composition of the AJP’s Board of Directors to understand that it is not these freedoms that they cherish, but those of the media companies that manufacture consent. The same people who have been left with this enormous and essential power to inform, state who has the right to call themselves a journalist or not.

Those who work at the DH, RTL, Rossel, Sudpresse … therefore decide unanimously not to extend my press card, under the pretext that I was not paid by the ASBL Kairos for eight months in 2019 and that journalism would therefore not have been my main activity. Reason entirely founded obviously for those who take the decisions, with an assumed subjectivity… The same people who kept silent when I was banned from press conferences for almost 8 months; who said nothing when the government censored me in the middle of a press conference; who did nothing more when a journalist from RTL, Dominique Demoulin, called my questions conspiracy theories in the middle of a live TV show; who could not find anything to say when faced with Alexander De Croo’s inane and mendacious answers in a press conference.

Martine Simonis, president of the AJP, did not fail to remind me by mail the rules of propriety of the profession, while Philippe Delusinne and Laurent Haulotte, respectively CEO of RTL Belgium (recently bought by the Belgian media groups Rossel and DPG), and director of information and sports of RTL Belgium (and member of the Council of journalistic deontology), lodged a complaint against me before this same Council of journalistic deontology, for remarks I made during a live broadcast in front of the Codeco press conference.

The Council of Ethics includes: Martine Simonis, president of the AJP, Gabrielle Lefèvre, president of the Accreditation Commission, Bruno Godaert of the AJP and the DH, Denis Pierrard, general manager at IPM, Jean-Pierre Jacqmin, director of information and sports at the RTBF; the rest is Sud Presse, Le Vif, L’Avenir…

The Association of Professional Journalists, the Council of Journalistic Ethics and the Commission for the Accreditation of Journalists are therefore interdependent corporatist structures, with each of them having a seat on the other. Structures governing media life and journalistic ethics in French-speaking Belgium (although everything is the same in Flanders), they are however supposed to represent the safeguards against journalistic drifts… Or the wolf guarding the sheepfold.

And all of them would have me believe that at the heart of their decision there would only be a cold respect of the rules, without any censorship, as Gilles Milecan, AJP jurist, responsible for the journal edited by the AJP « Journalists », and « deputy chief editor » at IPM Group, says…

The media misery, which had already reached its peak before the political episode of Covid-19, allowed the manipulation of the masses as never before. With closures, openings, re-closings; paradoxical messages stated under the guise of solidarity; a narrative that punctured the figures according to its interests and created the dramatic reality it wanted: dramatic when the figures were dramatic for it; dramatic when the figures were not dramatic but risked becoming so.

Imagine for a moment if these media had done their job and not presented the reality as it suited them? If they had not been the mouthpiece of governments, but had initiated real debates, sought the truth, disturbed? If they had not banned and stigmatized the scientists, doctors, nurses, firemen, philosophers, teachers… who think differently?

Instead, they instilled fear, guilt, denunciation, and division. They preached covidism, set themselves up as a court of inquisition, hunted down modern heretics who refused their doxa, now referred to as « conspiracists ».

George Orwell said that true freedom of speech is the freedom to tell people what they don’t want to hear. The Munich Charter on the Rights and Duties of Journalists states that one of the duties is to respect the truth, regardless of the consequences for oneself, because of the public’s right to know the truth.

I have been fighting, we have been fighting, with Kairos, for years to build this truth. Today, we are insulted by those who want us to stay in the cave, stuffed with their fake news inserted between two advertisements for electric cars. This has led to the withdrawal of my press card.

That’s all it takes to understand who they are and who they serve.

We can no longer accept this.

Thank you!

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