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The Return of the Public: Democracy, Power and the Case for Media Reform

Winner 2011 Best Book of Ideas at the Bristol Festival of Ideas

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.

Reviews

  • “A superb analysis of the way in which citizens have lost power in a political and economic system built around the free market.”
  • “A book marked by a somber and scathing rhetoric that recalls the Frankfurt School critique of thinkers such as Adorno and Marcuse.”
  • “In his ingenious and quietly passionate argument, Dan Hind shows how we could take democracy into the media so that it becomes something regular people can shape—a part of how we rule ourselves instead of stealing democracy from us.”
  • “Drawing on history and democratic theory, this book offers a powerful indictment of public exclusion. It is also original, breaking with standard corporatist approaches to reform. Well written, eloquent and very well worth reading.”
  • “A persuasive and vital analysis.”
  • “Winner, 2011 Best Book of Ideas”

Blog

  • Emmanuel Macron, A Putsch by the Stock Exchange

    Former L'Obs journalist Aude Lancelin describes how how the En Marche! candidate was utterly fabricated by media in capital’s hands. First published on Agoravox, 21 April, prior to the first round vote. 



    It was late last year, and I had just handed in the manuscript for Le Monde libre (on my eviction from L‘Obs). My gaze wandered to the 24 hour news channel BFM TV images, amidst what remained of a Paris heatwave that had just recently finished. That was when I suddenly understood that 2017 would be a terrible year, and that the coming presidential election would not resemble anything this country had ever seen before. The country’s leading rolling news channel, the flagship of Patrick Drahi’s Altice-SFR group,was certainly not cutting any corners that 30 August 2016. Everything was laid on to cover a quite considerable event, just imagine it: the resignation from the Economics Ministry of a young gun of Hollandism, who even two years previously had still been almost unknown to the public. A scoop of planetary importance, we could see, which certainly merited the general mobilisation of all the teams working for the channel owned by this French telecoms billionaire.

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  • Post-Truth Politics or Post-Political Journalism?

    First published in Le Monde Diplomatique. Translated by David Broder.



    A system that has veteran TV journalist Christine Ockrent commenting on Trump’s election on France Culture and Bernard-Henri Lévy interviewed about it by pundit-commentator Jean-Michel Aphatie two days later is just as absurd as a problem that claims to provide the solutions. But more than that, it is a dead system.

    We should not be surprised that the theme of the living-dead is enjoying such a resurgence in TV series and films. They are representations of our era, and perhaps it is indeed the confused sentiment of this era, both dead-already and still-alive, that is secretly working away at our sensibilities, making the zombie appear as the figure that best expresses the present moment.

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  • This Revolution Cannot be Televised: on the closure of E.R.T. in Greece



    There was no conspiracy, there was no coup, there wasn’t even any suspension of the law in the name of the law, no state of emergency. The closing down of the Greek national broadcaster, ERT, was nothing more than an ordinary item on the political agenda of a socially defiant, semiologically indifferent, politically pompous and idiosyncratically reckless Prime Minister.

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