The Legacy of Edward Herman

Dr. Tom Mills

The American media critic, Edward Herman, has died at the age of 92. Herman is best known as the co-author with Noam Chomsky of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, first published in 1988. That book, though initially not especially well received by media scholars, became a classic text in the media studies canon, and remains probably the most influential single radical critique of the corporate news media.

Inevitably perhaps given Chomsky’s enormous stature as a public intellectual, Herman’s contribution to Manufacturing Consent has too often been overlooked. He was, after all, first author, and in fact was largely responsible for the development of what he referred to in a subsequent afterword as ‘the analytic underpinning of the book’: the ‘propaganda model’ Continue reading

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Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks his anti-abortion stance doesn’t matter – here’s why he is wrong

Dr Pam Lowe

In a recent appearance on the television show Good Morning Britain, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg revealed that he is totally against abortion, even in the case of rape. He claimed that this was his personal view, based on his Catholic faith, and argued that his position doesn’t matter because it has no bearing on the law of the land and nothing would change that.

This is simply not the case. Rees-Mogg is being spoken of as a hopeful for the leadership of the Conservative party – and is therefore a potential prime minister. Even if rumours of that political ambition are overblown, he is a member of the House of Commons, where he has consistently voted to restrict abortion. And, as he should well know, access to abortion is not the law of the land. In Northern Ireland, abortion is almost completely prohibited. And in the rest of the UK, it’s still a criminal offence with the threat of prison for both women and those who provide abortion unless carried out under conditions of strict medical control. Continue reading

Why we keep playing the Generation Blame Game … and why we need to stop

Karen West

Successive generations’ healthy disregard of the previous generation’s tastes, habits and customs is a necessary ingredient of human progress. But there is something about the current carving up of the population into ever smaller generational slices of entitlement and opprobrium – from baby boomers and Generation X to millennials and Generation Z – that borders on unhealthy obsession. Part of this is a growing awareness of a “shift in the demographic map”. Continue reading

Liu Xiaobo: a voice of conscience who fought oppression for decades

Hermann Aubié

Only a few weeks after being diagnosed with a late-stage liver cancer in  late May 2017, the world learned that China’s most prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, died at 61 in a hospital in the north-east region of China, where he was born. As the poetess Tang Danhong wrote, he departed as “an innocent prisoner into the eternal light” (无罪的囚徒,融入永恒的光芒). What a tragedy for a man who fought most of his life for freedom to live out his last days in a hospital bed under lock and key.

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Post-Democratic Broadcasting

Dr. Tom Mills

There has scarcely been a time in the BBC’s 95-year history when it hasn’t faced accusations of political bias. But it has been decades since the criticisms emanated so strongly from the left. This is a consequence of the collapse of a centre ground which had long been the BBC’s political fulcrum. As the Labour Party shifted leftwards, attracting an unprecedented influx of new members, its MPs and party bureaucracy fought back. And since the BBC is deeply embedded in Westminster, and routinely defers to the consensus there in setting the parameters of political debate, its political reporting has been skewed against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Continue reading

The ‘joyful challenge’ of minority congregations’ use of Anglican church spaces

Dr Demelza Jones

Responding effectively to ever-increasing diversity (or superdiversity) is an important challenge facing the modern Church of England, particularly in urban centres. This response may take the form of attempts at meaningful engagement with other faith communities – for instance, the Church’s nationwide Presence and Engagement programme, which “focus[es] on the importance of the Church both remaining present in multi religious areas and engaging positively with communities of other faiths”1, and is complemented by a network of Inter-Faith Relations Advisors working at the Diocesan level. However, as well as this engagement across faiths, the Church must also respond (and arguably adapt) to significant diversity within Christianity, and even within Anglicanism. Continue reading

Why Sufi shrines are targeted by Islamic State

dr-parveen-akhtar

When an Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber killed 88 people and wounded hundreds more at a Sufi shrine in Sehwan on February 16, it did not deter the devotees of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the 13th-century Sufi mystic, who draws millions to his tomb in Pakistan’s Sindh privince.

The attack followed a bombing in November 2016 at another Sufi shrine in the remote Baluchistan region which killed at least 52 people.

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The BBC is neither independent or impartial: interview with Tom Mills

bbc-book-tom

Tom Mills, a Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University and former Co-Editor of New Left Project, has just published his first book, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service. Using archival research, original interviews, autobiographies and secondary sources Mills examines the politics of the BBC, arguably the most influential and trusted news organisation in the UK.

I asked Mills about the popular image of the BBC as independent and impartial, its Iraq War coverage and what changes he would like to see made at the Corporation.
Ian Sinclair: In an interview with the Press Gazette after she was recently named Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards, Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s Political Editor, said ‘Among the many jewels and gifts that the BBC has is our editorial independence’. She went on to argue ‘I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC. That’s what we do.’ Is the BBC independent and impartial?

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