Give me money and I tell you the truth

On Wednesday 9 November The Guardian published an article by Lee Glendinning that also appeared on Facebook. The heading “In this new world, now is the time to support fearless, independent journalism“ immediately grabbed my attention (so, well done, the author obviously succeeded in this point).

In her article, Glendinning points out the central duty of the news media to serve as an independent voice for democracy and in this context to act as a controlling authority of Donald Trump and his government. She even goes one step further: She promises that they will “strive to uncover the truth if those in power hide behind falsehoods“. I quickly was reminded of the democratic media approach Brian Neve explained in his essay: mass media as an independent mouthpiece of citizenship which influence the government by its autonomy. Democracy, truth, independence-sounds pretty good to me. At this point one could high five Glendinning, say „Good job, thanks!“ and close the article on the website. Well, would be the easiest but definitely not the most critical way. So, let us talk about the aspects that made me skeptical:

In my opinion Glendinning’s comment is very much influenced by a black -white, good- bad attitude towards media and politics. That truth has still to be unfold by the journalists of The Guardian implies that the other news media are not reliable and might be manipulated by Trump and the Republicans in the future. Glendinning might be true, but where is her argumentation’s base? She is not interested in opening a discussion about her view, rather playing with people’s fear that Trump is going to rule like a fascist dictator. Bad Trump, bad Republicans — good Democrats, good democratic newspaper. Thus, she leaves no space for positions in between. However, for me the most interesting point of the article is that the author herself answers the question why she addresses people’s anxiety: “I am writing today to ask you to fund our work by becoming a Guardian Supporter or by making a one-off contribution.“ There we are. The independent journalism Glendinning promotes is not as independent as she thinks. Like many things in our world news media depend on money. Even a democratic, down-to-earth one.

Please, do not get me wrong. I am not a supporter of Donald Trump or the Republicans and I appreciate the promise of a journalist to reveal the truth. If her article was just a personal comment I would probably be the person who gave her the high five. Unfortunately Glendinning’s article is not simply a personal comment. It is a whoop to drum up The Guardian’s business. Ignoring the principles of neutral reporting, the author uses a controversial issue to squeeze financial profit from people’s fear. No high five for that.