Illustré par :

« The elite’s hold on the media and the marginalization of dissenters flows so naturally from the very operation of these filters(1) that media people, who often work with integrity and good faith, can convince themselves that they are choosing and interpreting information « objectively » on the basis of strictly professional values. They are indeed often objective, but within the limits imposed by the operation of these filters..

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, The Manufacture of Consent(2).

Following the white card  » Citizen journalism does not exist »(3), we had proposed with other free media, a response to the daily (see p.10–11). We thought we had the right to denounce what were for us shortcuts and reflected the positions of the intelligentsia, purely conformist points of view that eluded the reality of free journalism and its true raison d’être. 


The letter was sent to the editor of the « debates » service on October 6. On the 7th, she answered us: 

« Good morning, sir, 

Thank you for your suggestion. Due to various factors (including what has already been said in our columns and what is in preparation for our column and the rest of the newspaper), we will not be able to publish your text. 

Have a great weekend, 

Monique Baus  »

The answer arrives, the one we expected, but that in a paradoxical way we did not expect (which must also question us on the meaning of our interventions, on what we really are and want(4)). No way for us to express ourselves, to answer where André Linard, former director of the CDJ, has the space to attack in a few lines the reason of our struggles. Our right of reply, by a collective of free media (Zin TV, Kairos, Krasniy, Radio Panik…) is, without « explanations », refused. Bam! The sentence was passed. No great surprise then, although always a form of feeling of injustice mixed with a form of surprise a little feigned, a little true… It is indeed always so big, strong, violent. 

But all this is also rich in teaching, demonstrating to what extent the media shape our perception of the world and that, to change this world, it will be necessary to bring down this journalism which formulates the minds. 


I decide to call Mrs. Baus, responsible for the « debates » service at La Libre. 

« I have a number of boxes to fill with a number of texts.

Responsible for the « Debate Service » of La Libre.

- Kairos Hello, Mrs Baus?

- Mrs. Baus — Yes. 

- Alexandre Penasse, editor-in-chief of Kairos newspaper . I have just learned of the refusal to publish the carte blanche and I would have liked, if possible, to have an explanation? 

- Well, the explanation was in the email: there is a choice to be made, I have less space than proposed texts and in the choice… here it is! 

- But we can offer you something shorter for next week .

- No, it’s not about the length, it’s really about the choice. If you want to come back next week, but I don’t guarantee that… 

- Wait, a question of… I don’t understand, he’s…

- Of length… 

- Is it too long ?

- No, not at all. 

- I don’t understand then .

- No, it’s not a question of length, it’s a question of choice, uh… I have, I have a certain number of boxes to fill with a certain number of texts: I have more texts than boxes, and there are certain texts that don’t fit, and here’s the one we decided that… 

- It has nothing to do with the substance of the article, I ‘m sure…

- No doubt… 

- « Probably » what, that it has nothing to do with it?

- Yes.

- Doesn ‘t the text bother you at all?

- But you want to… I hear what you’re saying, but there’s no point in making insinuations like that over the phone. That’s not going to get the text through, you understand. 

- These are not insinuations, but I think that this is the problem. In any case, we will broadcast your refusal all over the place, it is obvious. 

« Is this concentration of the media in the hands of those who already concentrate the wealth as devoid of consequences for information as they say? » 

S. Halimi, p.56

- But this is not a refusal! It is that one cannot publish all in a newspaper where there are… we receive forty texts… 

- So you tell me « look, it’s not going to be for Friday, Monday or Tuesday, but we’ll publish it another day, it’s still relevant… », but don’t tell me that

- No, no, ah no, no, no, it’s not topical because it’s a reaction to something that was written the week before, so no
it doesn’t stay current (sic). This is not true. 

- But the subject is still… Linard’s white card, it’s on your site, the person can very well find that and most people who are going to see our answer will go and review the original white card. I don’t understand. 

- Well, listen, I don’t have anything else to tell you. I take care of the paper pages, so I don’t take care of the site. What is published on the site or not is not my responsibility. And so I tell you, I have ten pitches a week and I can’t publish everything I get. We have to make choices. We have to make choices every week and we have to clean up as we go along, I can’t let the pile of texts I have here on my desk swell up only to have 150 more on hold… 

- Are you the one who decides on your own?

- No, not alone. 

- So it’s just a technical problem?

- Come on (she blows), okay. Well, yes, it’s just a technical problem… 


Following this, we called Jean-François Dumont(5)who has been a print journalist for 26 years, deputy editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Le Monde, and assistant secretary general of the Association of Professional Journalists (AJP). Vif/L’ExpressHe has taught journalism for 20 years at UCL and teaches at IHECS (for the Master in Media Education) and at the University of Burundi. He is a member of the Council for Journalistic Ethics (CDJ) and the Higher Council for Media Education (CSEM). The character is thus well anchored in the environment. 

Originally, it was called for the famous AJP Gala, the one where the pundits of the profession meet(6). We want to see what happens there, what is said there, who are the friends of those who are supposed to protect the profession of journalists, and who meet them and the students during their  » tour in Wallonia and Brussels » , in the premises of IPM, Belga, Rossel, RTL-TVI(7)

The discussion with Jean-François Dumont begins on the importance for us, at Kairos, of free, citizen journalism and the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of making a living from it. The dissonances, contradictions, are rich in interest; the way he represents and presents, following the example of André Linard, alternative journalism: a kind of organization on the bangs of the mainstream media that would provide the mass press with some content and would sometimes influence it a little by a little reminder, but not too deep, soft and always on the surface, without ever, oh no, ever, questioning the media industry and the big fortunes that own them: « this is real life. Even if we can deplore it »…

Jean-François Dumont (…) There are things that are becoming more flexible, but it is true that we are not yet at the point of saying that a volunteer can be recognized as a professional, which would send a strong message to employers by saying  » You know, it doesn’t matter, if you don’t pay your people, they will still be recognized as journalists in our country.  » (…) We don’t want to get the message across that journalism is an activity that doesn’t necessarily pay. It’s a profession, it’s a job, it pays. 

- Kairos: yes, but precisely, when you make an alternative, free, dissident press, the reality is that you almost can’t afford (…)

- We do not want to devalue, to demonetize the value of a professional service (…) 

- One more thing: which is worse, doing volunteer work without getting money from advertising or getting paid by advertising?

- Wow… what’s that supposed to mean? You mean that if the media company is paid by advertising, the journalists are sold out to advertisers, is that what you are suggesting? We’re going to have a symposium on this one day if you want (laughs)

- We have a conference whenever you want… Accardo, Chomsky, Halimi have written a lot about this already. 

- Yes, I know, but we’re not going to stay in the fantasy either at this level; even if there are sometimes sulphurous links between information and advertising, we’re not at all… I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in a real editorial office? 

- No, but we can send you interns to real newsrooms. I work in a real editorial office, that’s our newspaper. 

- I say « real editorial staff » of a press that lives on advertising. I have 26 years of presence in these editorial offices, I never knew which advertiser was in my pages the next day.
And none of my colleagues knew. And I had no instructions to say,  » We don’t say anything bad about so-and-so. But there are exceptions, which I am ready to acknowledge and which I have experienced too. 

« It is the advertisers’ preferences that determine the prosperity and even the survival of a media. 

Chomsky and Edward, p.47

- In any case, we notice that there are things that are not covered in the press, but hey

- But of course, of course. 

- And that Kairos is not too much appreciated by the mass press which does not relay us; we do not seek that, since precisely we exist because they do not make their job, but they avoid us nevertheless largely .

- On the other hand, for communication people, you are surprisingly discreet. I met Kairos last year at the Namur show. 

- We are not surprisingly discreet, we just don’t have the networks of others .

- Did you ever send a copy of Kairos to the traditional editorial offices, to be read, to be picked up, to be talked about? 

- To send a Kairos to La Libre or Le Soir or La DH, is that what you mean? * 

- Yes, of course, to the people who deal with the media. 

- Well, I’ll make a bet with you that we send it and there will be no response .

- Not immediately, but of course when Bernard Hennebert or others were doing entry into the editorial offices, well, here was someone who got to the point of having full pages on him. You shouldn’t complain about never being quoted if you never come out of your den. 

« How did the information professional imagine that an industrialist was going to buy a means of influence while refraining from influencing its direction? 

Serge Halimi, p. 69 

- Oh no, I’m not complaining about not being quoted, I’m telling you that when I do a file on the links between the mass media and the biggest Belgian fortunes(8)I don’t think that Le Soir and Mr. Marchant and Mrs. Delvaux are saying to themselves: « Here, we’ll relay it ». Let’s not be naive, frankly, we have to stop. 

- No, indeed, especially if you also mention people from the Hurbain family and company. 

« Under the double pressure of capitalist concentration and commercial competition favoring conformism and stupidity, journalism has become almost everywhere: hollow and reverential. 

S. Halimi, p. 29 

Ah, the Hurbain family, Belgium’s number one fortune?

- We know how the media works, obviously there is a kind of… 

when I was at La Libre Belgique, I didn’t learn what was going on with them by reading Le Soir and I didn’t learn what was going on with IPM by reading Le Soir. And that’s real life, even if we can deplore it. And that’s why it’s interesting that there are alternative media. But at the same time, there are alternative media that do a job that ends up infiltrating, giving stories and information to non-alternative media. 

« Surveys consistently indicate that the public — while they listen and watch what is offered — would like more news,
documentaries and different information, less sex and violence and a different kind of entertainment. It seems unlikely that citizens would really care why their incomes are stagnant or even declining while they work harder and harder; why the medical care they have access to is as expensive as it is poor; or whether they are unaware of what may be perpetrated in their name around the world. If they are so unaware of such issues, the propaganda model explains why: those who exercise sovereignty over the media have decided not to address such issues. » 

Chomsky and Edwards, p.96


It is obvious that the watchdogs of the dominant order, these well-meaning journalists who try to make us believe that they are free, whereas they are free within the framework that they are given and that they accept to give themselves, that of the « real life », feel that the wind is beginning to change. More and more citizens are turning away from media that are subject to big business and that consider them primarily as consumers, secondarily as readers whose duty it is to tell them what is important. 

They say they offer an agora. Yes, but with an entrance fee! 

* ACTION OF THE MONTH: Contact La Libre, La Dernière Heure, Le Soir, send them your Kairos, the address of the site… you will be surprised to see what we say here confirmed… 

Notes et références
  1. Chomsky et Edward évoquent ici cinq principaux filtres : taille, actionnariat, fortune du propriétaire et orientation lucrative ; poids de la publicité ; poids des sources gouvernementale ou économiques et des « experts » financés et adoubés par ces sources primaires et agents des pouvoirs ; moyens de contre-feux permettant de discipliner les médias ; l’« anticommunisme » comme religion nationale et mécanisme de contrôle. Ce dernier filtre a évolué actuellement vers la lutte contre l’Islam et la guerre au terrorisme.
  2. Éditions Agone, 1988/2008, p. 26.
  3. Voir l’article « Expression à sens unique », dans ce dossier.
  4. C’est-à-dire qu’au-delà de l’attitude didactique qui vise à montrer qui ils sont, devons-nous encore chercher à les « coincer » ? Cela a‑t-il du sens, cela ne repose-t-il pas sur l’illusion qu’ils sont capables de changer (voir p. 17–18,« Le conflit mental indépassable des journalistes »).
  5. Que nous avions déjà interviewé dans l’émission Micro Ouvert, au salon des médias alternatifs, l’année précédente. A écouter ici : .
  6. Voir « Daniel Blake au gala de l’AJP »,
  8. Voir « Seriez-vous Libre® ce Soir® ? Ou comment les médias- industries détruisent la pensée » (Kairos 23, ou ici :

Espace membre

Member area