We received a handwritten letter dated May 10, 2016, following the article/file on the Belgian media industry (Kairos of February-March 2016). We reproduce it below, with our answer. 

« Hello,

Having read your article « The Belgian media industry », I have some questions. Having understood that the media minimize the importance of strikes and other such revolts and that they try to keep us in the dark, I ask myself: how can I access the real information? For example, La Libre shows De Wever all the time and, according to them, the destruction of Belgium will be soon. But what if what we are told is wrong? Do the people, politicians and others really want it? Another example: The Belgian police seems to be totally useless according to the media (of course, they don’t talk about the under-staffing, the lack of equipment…). Does this just serve to find a culprit for the non-prevention of the attacks or is this the reality? 

In conclusion, I would like to have answers to the questions asked. I also think it would be important to set the record straight on some things. 

Thank you for your attention to this letter. 

Toizan(1)  »

Dear Madam,

Thank you for sharing. 

I don’t think, even though it’s sometimes implied in our texts, that « the media is trying to keep us in the dark.« The difference is in the intention: most of them (this « they » refers to those who produce the content, i.e. the journalists) do not want to leave us in the dark, they do it thinking for the most part to support the freedom of the press and the right to inform. Like a priest celebrating mass, the journalist believes in what he says and is convinced of his freedom to preach. It is by the simple fact of their diffusion that the words of the priest and the journalist become sacred and acquire their transcendent power; the two messengers represent the ministers of the cult. 

They will never recognize it, of course. As the ineffable former editor of the Nouvel Observateur and current editor of Libération, Laurent Joffrin, said: « We have talked about formal freedom and real freedom… what we would like to say, concerning newspapers, is that as soon as they are in the hands of owners, they are no longer free; well this idea is false! This idea is false, or else [s’adressant à Natacha Polony], you have to resign from the Figaro because it is in the hands of a cannon merchant. You resign immediately because it is not free; but I do not believe that the Figaro is not free » (see the February-March 2016 Kairos Briefs). Defending the freedom of a colleague working in the industrial press (which gives Joffrin the aura of altruistic disinterestedness), Joffrin defends himself by reflective projection, working for a newspaper whose owner is none other than Patrick Drahi: a businessman active in telecommunications, with an estimated wealth of 14 billion euros, Drahi has bathed in the Panama papers, we are surprised… It is hard to believe, however, that the latter, with the following comments on work, will not influence the editorial line of its managing editor Laurent Joffrin: « The Chinese work 24 hours a day and the Americans only take two weeks of vacation…, that’s the problem for us…; adding « My model is not the two weeks of paid vacation, but compared to those who work more, we move slower: it’s the laws of gravitation, if you will… »(2).

So we might as well let the subject persuade himself while he tries to persuade his colleagues that a newspaper’s membership has no influence on its editorial line. The important thing here is the belief and the certainty to think that one’s media continues to inform. 

« How then do you get access to the real information, » you ask? Without using the mechanism of reflexive projection — defending your choices to indirectly value our work -, of which Joffrin was accused, I think that to go already towards independent and free media, as Kairos is, is essential. Afterwards, you must spread the protest around you, no longer be afraid — a feeling that the media and politicians play on to prevent thinking and break the desire for union -, break the soft consensus by words and deeds, everywhere. You will probably realize that more people than you think agree with you. 

Finally, once fed with independent information, invigorated by the realization that you are not alone in thinking« there is something wrong« This truth is that of their mediocrity which is expressed in the choice of the subjects they deal with, their order of importance (the RTBF starts its news on June 1st by dealing with David Goffin’s victory for 3min20, the rest of the news is the same, in any case in the way of dealing with the information.…), their lack of weariness in dealing with political jousts that they describe, create and never enlighten, their bias, etc. By this process, we leave the passive role of spectator and find it almost impossible to see the treatment of information by the mass media without being revolted: the « culprits » are no longer the same, that is to say, those about whom they talk incessantly and who take us away from understanding; the « non-emprehension » (of the attacks or of all this violence of which they only describe the subjective dimension) no longer focuses on the short time of the act that is going to be committed, in order to stop on this previous long time and to perceive the responsibilities of the West in the terrorism the manifestations of subjective violence that make up the news in the media give way to a questioning of the objective violence of structures (State, companies). 

Thus, we participate in the restoration of the truth. At least to approach it. 

Alexandre Penasse

Notes et références
  1. La personne a désiré signer avec un pseudonyme.
  2. Voir et la vidéo de la très courtoise séance à l’assemblée:

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