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Re: Labels for press

Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
On Fri, 6 Apr 2001, prakash  chandrashekar wrote:
 What if the label means nothing ? 
 Let me illustrate. I know of people who call themselves communists and
 think that the USSR was not a communist country....  
 so, this is problem no:1. Labels need not always make sense. 
Labels need not make sense at all, to anybody except to the peoples using
it. In fact isn't that how it operates every instant in all our lives ?
Words do not stand alone outside of our minds. They get the meanings WE
give. The dictionary is an institution that serves each and all of us to
reduce the (amount of) communication necessary to get things done whenever
we interact for whatever reasons, including maintaining a democrasy, a
nation, a neighbourhood. So I don't think labels can ever mean the same
thing to all the people unless they use the same dictionary *and* are able
to understand that tome in the same sense as everybody else. Of course
this never happens and all of us merely get by with approximations, with
every word. In this sense I don't see what's the harm in asking members of
the Press who don't subscribe to the Free idea (see below for 'Free'), to
get a label that appeals to the market to which they seem to be
religiously catering. If you agree that the various party mouthpieces are
also part of the Press, then the whole question is answered. My point was
that the larger part of the Press, of both the native languages and
english ones, seems to be in constant ambivalence about what to represent.
That ambivalence is of course less efficient to us consumers, electorate
as we will never know what is information and what isn't, in the stuff
they sell. The ideal and the electorate's expectation (in return for the
privileges they are given) is that they be Free. 


 problem 2 -  what if someone went beyond the bounds of the label. eg: a lot
 of "communists" in kerala are in favour of privatising education. How does
 the label help here ? who will ensure that everyone reamins within their
 label ?

It's for the parties engaged in the definition-communication-action to
remove such mishaps. The label may not common property or commonly
defined, unfortunately. It belongs, temporarily, to whoever defines and
uses it amongst themselves.  "Communist" is not registered for exclusive
meaning on the planet, even if the dictionary shows. For reasons they
know, the folk might be using different dictionaries, speak different
languages. The point is, those reasons must be known, must be common
knowledge. What single/signal word they choose to use for their set of
reasons -communists, nihilists, etc- is not the common/public concern. The
public's concern would be the set of reasons, not that label.


 about facts and opinions
 There are facts and those cannot be misrepresented. If there are
 contradictions here, they can be easily found out. 
 A free press is exactly that. A free press - one which is free to produce
 anything they want.
"There are facts and those cannot be misrepresented." Although you may
have written it rather innocently one could show this sentence has a
contradiction (actually in the speaker). The power of words, when they are
not grounded in a common definition (and it is difficult to have a single
and absolute definition, unfortunately), is such. And I believe the free
Press has many incentives to do that and benefit enormously. Nothing
wrong, just that they should not claim the privileges of the Free Press. A
free Press can of course produce whatever it wants. It's done all the time
without any hindrance, in the hundreds of magazines, comics, etc.  Folk
who want a Free Press would not go to it as they know that that Press
wouldn't be giving what they are looking for. Similarly folk who want the
appropriate free press would go to it. There's no question about this. The
question is about whether it's Free, of vested-interests. Vested interests
of course doesn't at all mean, anti-people.

 1- th press is not a monolithic entity. It consists of lots of presses. And
  a lot of them can be antagonistic to each other. why, even
 indiapolicy.org belongs to a category of free speech.  and about voting
 out a monopolistic government, you can do it once in 5 years.  A press,
 you can do it in one moment. By refusing to buy the paper, visiting the
 site, etc. 

I suppose the 'number of presses' is answered above (the number is
immaterial, the interests is all that makes the difference). Members of
the news media being antogonistic to each other, for reasons only they
know, is merely the competition; one which the electorate is happy about
if only to get hold of a better Press. But all those members still either
belong to the Free or free Press, and for the polity the Free Press
monolith is of concern; the free Press(s) are akin to biscuits and
toothpaste. I couldn't understand the mention of ipi here. I have not made
any case for the control of speech, but for the control (actually only
knowledge) of the interests. 

The ability to vote out a government every N years is merely an
operational law in a democrasy. It could be three weeks if all choose so.
The point is, an elected government can be ousted if the public is unhappy
with its performance, merely by casting a simple vote; a simple vote that
can make a government completely powerless or powerful. It's not so simple
with the Press. I think the Press, at any time, is more powerful than the
government because of the power of information. It is the entity we
patronise as a counter-force to the all-powerful-but-easily-oustable
government to ensure it works for the public. We rely on the Press
exclusively to give us all the information to help us decide about the
government's existence. The Free Press is patronised in a democrasy. There
is no reason at all, in a democrasy, why only a bunch of 'reporters'
should be entertained and given all the government information. Yet we
sanction and enforce that, because we wish to patronise that bunch of
reporters so that they report to all of us the true affairs of the
government. The point is, what happens if a majority of the information
impressed upon us, by all those competitors, is not true ? How can we even
know it is true or not ? We rely on the Free Press to tell us the truth,
but there is no way I can really know if the Free Press has remained with
its integrity or not. I simply believe and buy them every morning. If that
belief is in doubt the recourse is not buying another paper/channel but
becoming a member of the Press myself. That would be very inefficient of
me and the system I am part of!

 How is it a monopoly ? competition is inherently against collusion. te
 more the players, the lesser the collusion.

Earth and history have granted only some nations in the world with rich
sources of 20th century wealth. Instead of competing to sell their
resources all those nations have formed what is called as the OPEC to
collude and benefit collectively. The People of India have granted
reporters in India and the world with rich access to current and
historical government information. It is believed that all those reporters
have secretly formed what is known as the TheGuild to collude and side
with the government in sharing the spoils of governmental power. Some
people do not believe it, some do, but anywise the public is hamstrung by
the lack of resources to identify what is true or false. It will remain so
till a new reporter arises, establishes credentials, and doesn't collude.
Given that information is easier to possess and manipulate than a barrel
of oil, it can be understood that TheGuild, anytime anywhere, is perhaps
more powerful than the OPEC.

 A free press means you allow everyone to print their articles and you
 decide. You can repudiate facts if wrongly printed and opinions all the time.
I base my first and subsequent opinions on the facts reported to me by the
Press, which I believe is true. I don't know what is wrong till the Free
Press tells me. I don't know what is true till the Free Press tells me.
Even when I know, I cannot repudiate anything unless I myself become a
first-hand reporter. There's nothing wrong with everyone becoming a
reporter, just that it's lot less useful if we can have Free (wo)men doing
that for all of us.


Padmanabha Rao

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