Under the incurious gaze of the major media, the political establishment and the financial sector have become increasingly deceitful and dangerous in recent years. At the same time, journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s News International and elsewhere have been breaking the law on an industrial scale. Now we are expected to stay quiet while those who presided over the shambles judge their own conduct.
In The Return of the Public, Dan Hind argues for reform of the media as a necessary prelude to wider social transformation. A former commissioning editor, Hind urges us to focus on the powers of the media to instigate investigations and to publicize the results, powers that editors and owners are desperate to keep from general deliberation.
Hind describes a programme of reform that is modest, simple and informed by years of experience. It is a programme that much of the media cannot bring themselves even to acknowledge, precisely because it threatens their private power. It is time the public had their say.
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Are you drowning in deluded celebrations of a reactionary political system, a country facing economic collapse and a sporting spectacle sucking funds from our welfare system?
Are you disgusted by pleas for everyone to 'pull together in this time of austerity' when the only thing that isn't being cut is the Queen's flotilla?
After you've torched the street party and hung an effigy of 'our' monarch you may want to read these:
Dan Hind's The Return of the Public (out in paperback this month) has been cited by the shadow media minister, Helen Goodman, in proposals to democratise the BBC's output:
We are always being told that it is "our BBC" - usually by the BBC itself. But lately some high-profile voices appear to be taking that idea seriously.
Helen Goodman, Labour's shadow media minister, has recently weighed in with a suggested collaboration with the BBC on a system of citizen commissioning allowing the public to schedule a set number of hours of radio and TV programmes...
She said her inspiration was a book by the journalist and author Dan Hind called The Return of the Public. Hind's 2010 polemic sets out a series of proposals intended to democratise public debate through a system of citizen-led editorial commissioning.
The subtitle of the piece asks "unworkable extremism or an idea whose time has come?".
'What's the point of political action?' Dan Hind asks in his latest opinion piece for Al Jazeera. He begins by outlining the general and widespread cynicism that has characterised our attitude to the public protest in recent years,
In Britain, vast public demonstrations in 2003 failed to prevent our government from joining the United States in a war of aggression in Iraq. If they can get away with that, why bother?
Politics has, for some time, been the reserve of politicians and broadcasters, who have been free to decide what is and isn't political for all of us. It seemed that we, the public, had given up the fight. However, in the light of recent events, Hind argues that what may have seemed like 'common sense' a decade ago now appears absurd; 'There is too much evidence that direct action, if sustained and sufficiently troubling to the established order, works.' Using the actions of protest group UK Uncut against tax avoidance as an example, Hind points out that,
A relatively small number of people who aren't supposed to act politically have begun to act in ways that effectively disrupt the orderly circulation of idea, goods, and alibis for inaction. In assembling and discussing matters of common concern they have exceeded the formal limits of polite protest. Their methods are demonstrably effective.