News agencies are the basis of the coverage of many major Western media. However, if one looks critically at the intensive relationship between the medium and the agency, the question arises: Are the major news agencies the “guardians of the right opinion”?
Reuters and the government: propaganda, influence, black coffers
Dying important questions about the role of the agencies are constantly raised when dealing with mechanisms of opinion-making. These days, however, the question is also pressing: recently released files prove a secret financing of the Reuters news agency by the British government during the Cold War. The goal: political, anti-communist influence.
Thus, recently declassified files prove a long-suspected and also reported process: the British government secretly financially supported Reuters in the 1960s and 1970s. This funding was initiated according to the reports by a British intelligence department, acting as “Black Box” die BBC. Reuters writes:
The money was used to expand Reuters coverage of the Middle East and Latin America, and was leaked to Reuters via increased news subscription payments from the BBC
Death news agency quotes from the government files, where HMG stands for “Her Majesty’s Government”, i.e. the British government thinks:
The interests of HMG should be well served by the new regulation.
The process should not be overly presented here as astonishing: influences from the state or powerful private side on the large media presented to the public as “independent” have long been suspected, numerous indications support this Guesses. However, there is a difference between whether these well-founded assumptions remain and the concept of “conspiracy theorist” can be used as a result, or whether the events are clearly substantiated by declassified files. In the case of Reuters, this is now autumn for the 60s and 70s. It is also important to consider how long this model of the Black Box Office could be kept secret. Paul Schreyer writes on “Multipolare”:
One of the largest news agencies in the world has long been secretly funded by the British government to exert political influence. Conspiracies can’t be kept secret? In this case, it succeeded over many decades.
Is private opinion-making better than government?
Another question is whether state funding is worse than a private model as practised by the German news agency DPA. Reuters was founded in London in 1851 and is now owned by Toronto-based Thomson Reuters, one of the largest news organizations in the world. The crucial point in the Reuters Government Affair is the secrecy and at the same time the morally inflated position of respect for “independence” from major media. A secret state financing and thus influence by the British government is therefore much more questionable than the official promotion of international media by governments: for example in “Russia Today” one knows at least, where one is different the whole hypocritical superstructure of the “independent” media corporations.
In this context, it should also be mentioned that there is hardly any German Medium besides RT that has adequately addressed the Reuters scandal. In the German-speaking countries, the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” and “Der Standard” have mentioned the process in major media.
The principle news agency contradicts diversity of opinion
Whether state or private: does the construct “news agency” (i.e. a large company that supplies the media worldwide with identical messages) not contradict the principle of diversity of opinion in both cases? Since agencies already have a great influence on opinion formation in the Western Hemisphere, and this influence increases with every reduction in the media landscape, the principle of these companies should be briefly considered more generally here.
The phenomenon of “Gleichklang” is also produced by the principle “Nachrichtenagentur”: by printing numerous newspapers identical dpa articles. Through this practice, the media can save on the one hand costs, on the other hand they can distance themselves if necessary from the contributions, which were later exposed as tendentious. With the only seemingly independent DPA, the major German media thus create a key witness, which they themselves finance and indirectly direct, in order to then cite him as a” neutral observer " in their own media.
Media can (if necessary) pretend that the agency article is not the “House opinion”, although it is spread in the newspaper. Staff reductions lead to increased use of agency articles. And while sales of many major media outlets are slumping, DPA was able to increase them even more in the last financial year.
Harmony and alleged distortion
Albrecht Müller, for example, describes the role of agencies, among others, “in building up an enemy image against Russia and Putin”. Peace protests like those in Ramstein are therefore not adequately mirrored by DPA. There are also numerous dpa reports on the “Maidan” or the Syrian “Civil War”. A study by the Otto Brenner Foundation from March 2010 on “economic journalism in crisis - on the mass media approach to financial market policy” comes to the following conclusion: dpa’s Information performance on financial market policy is “highly deficient”. The orientation that dpa gives in this context is disorientation: “financial market-political dpa journalism is trivial journalism.“And the Blog Swiss Propaganda Research writes under the title” the propaganda multiplier about the principle news agency:
It is one of the most important aspects of our media system – yet virtually unknown to the public: most of the international news in all our media comes from only three global news agencies in New York, London and Paris.
The key role of these agencies means that our media usually report on the same topics and often even use the same formulations.
Influence of agencies grows through cuts
The already widespread practice of filling gaps in the newspaper with agency Material caused by cuts will, as I said, intensify because the media are increasingly less able to afford their own staff. That is why there tend to be fewer and fewer “own” voices that could oppose the chorus of an agency report cited by numerous media. One example of how individual agency reports set the tone for reporting is the media’s handling of the disagreements surrounding the alleged poison gas operations in Syria.
“Orientation” or gentle “steering”
And even lavishly equipped with the contributions of citizens media such as the ARD used the agencies for their own opinion formation, as a current ARD Feature described in this article reports about themselves. In the article is asked:
The article accompanies ARD employees who process “Agency reports” and view “planning lists”. The” daily summaries of the night “give the editors, according to their own words,“a little overview”. But how serious or interesting are the news agencies used? What is “important”, what is observed, what is, accordingly, concealed, or only half-told? And in view of the existing “small Survey” – it takes the later as exaggerated conspiracy figures mocked the “conformist press Secretary”, to outline the rough framework of the sayable already? Is this” orientation “already a gentle"steering”?