Information is Power

By Carlos Casas

Have you heard of a country without newspapers? A country where journalists are so careful with their words and publications that they stop fulfilling part of their social function? A country where there’s only one TV news bulletin which repeats the same news over and over, and when it reproduces the news from another medium it nearly always shows only the image, covering news text and offering their view of the issue and not anybody else’s?

Their mass media are clones, more focused on international problems than on their own issues; shortcomings are masked with appeals for increased effort and commitment with the social model. In the country I speak of, a person doesn’t know whether their neighbor is a serial killer or a pedophile because that kind of information is not published. Such crimes probably happen less than in other countries, but they do happen, and unless the police knocks on a door to investigate, there’s no telling who they share a building or a block with, or how many murders happen daily, or rapes, suicides, chases, corruption cases in the upper echelons, disagreements between the government and the population… but they do hear about unfortunate events involving mass killings, clashes between politicians or school shootings… in ‘the enemy’s’ country. They not told about themselves, but they are told how they’re expected to vote in a referendum.

The State owns all these media of mass communication, or should we say: of mass repetition.

Someone could say: ‘what do you mean there are no newspapers? I read them every day’, to which one could respond using the very information provided by the nationally distributed dailies on their front pages: ‘Official Medium of the Party (we will not say which one, to respect the country’s anonymity)’, ‘Newspaper of the Youth (careful, ‘youth’ here does not mean all youths)’, and so on…

They are all owned by a political institution or organization, so they will obviously not speak ill of it… as they themselves illustrate, they’re not newspapers.

You could think that television is more liberal, but it is also subordinated to whom it logically shouldn’t be; not to the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Communications. It’s not even independent; it is subordinated to the Party itself. In case it’s not been made clear, we’re speaking about a one-party country.

Yes, this is also a country under a harsh blockade by a world power, and I do not subtract any importance from that. It’s more an instance of historical cruelty by a Goliath against a David who grows stronger in the face of adversity. Decades ago, you could justify this way of making ‘journalism’ for the sake of avoiding its attacks, overcoming the lies or fighting ‘against media terrorism’, but it seems now the opposite is true.

Propaganda?

Yes, a lot of it, maybe even too much, for political purposes, for not letting history be forgotten, for staying vigilant against threats –none of that is any less real–, but it fills the programming and becomes as repetitive as it is boring. The Blockade and all that involves it –which is a lot– is one of the topics you will predictably find in any news item, whether as the cause or the key factor.

And what about the world? The world is doing badly. When we see in the news that a demonstration in a first-world country was repressed… could there be a reason or a possibility in this unspecified country to demonstrate against a government measure? That’s a question you never ask, and much less see it asked. There’s distortion of international dates, such as May Day. In that country, the propaganda not only invites, it almost orders you to go to the squares and ‘march’ to defend the social system, the Homeland and whatever political afterthought is in vogue, but never to demand a raise of wages, or better working conditions, as it happens in the rest of the world.

Access to the internet was an aspiration which seemed unattainable, partly because it would unsettle their information monopoly. Highly controlled at the beginning, and only available for privileged institutions, tourists and some intellectuals here or there… it now seems widespread in the population and, without mentioning the issue of the price –which not all can afford–, it is still an undervalued resource by those whose only concern is to communicate with family and friends, not finding out how the world is doing. Maybe that apathy was created by so much listening to the same rambling in those media for years.

It would be ideal to live in this news-bulletin world where problems are solved or don’t even exist, where no one is left helpless and the greater justification or concern –almost the only one– is the Blockade.

Do you want to know the country’s reality without embellishments or pretexts? Don’t read the newspapers. Go to the show of any renowned comic. And many ask themselves why young people don’t watch the news.

There are more than enough arguments to praise this country, and all the other good ones –which are numerous and very important. These repetitive pamphlets make good work of not letting anyone forget that. So, those of us who prefer independent media are the ones who explore what’s barely ever mentioned, but does exist in the daily lives of the population.

Maybe that’s why some important personality –one of those who appear on television– continues to repeat slogans that are decades old. Maybe because all he sees is the news. We should invite him to read in a website run by young people, which even has ‘young’ in its name along with the country’s, and I think he would learn a lot.

I apologize if I have misled you with these arguments. Maybe nobody knows what country I speak of. Maybe it doesn’t even exist and it’s the product of a riddle without an answer. Either way, can you imagine a country like that?

(Translated from the original)