How often do we hear this word? We have to show solidarity toward people in need, toward the poor, toward the less developed. Recently in the Norwegian press the case of non-reporting on the riots in Sweden in December 2008 was also put into this context. The editors of the main media — radio, TV and the press — wanted to show solidarity towards their neighbours and not reflect them in a bad light, so, they decided simply not to talk about it at all.
What has happened to freedom of expression, and where is freedom of the press? What kind of solidarity are we talking about? "Today there is nothing called freedom of the press," a colleague said. "The editors are the ones who decide. As if this were not enough, we are completely dependent on our owners and the advertisers. So it is an illusion to believe in a free and independent press."
When the financial crisis broke out over a year ago, governments rescued banks and financial institutions with tremendous inputs of money, increasing national debt to a point that made economists extremely alarmed. A breakdown in international financial markets would be a disaster — nobody has any doubt about that. However, the result of the present crisis is that, to cover these rescue
packages, some countries in Europe have borrowed so much money that public debt has gone up to 70, 80 or even 90% of the gross national/domestic product, placing a tremendous burden on tax payers, not to mention future generations. George Bernard Shaw once wrote cynically: "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."
With the economic turmoil, many journalist colleagues have lost their jobs, and it is getting harder and harder to publish articles about serious topics. Some media groups, although they are not too badly hit, continue to lay off people, taking advantage of the situation. What kind of solidarity do they show?
The rich are always cleverer at finding all kinds of measures to avoid paying taxes. What is happening to solidarity? It is a well-known fact, a former leader of Norwegian humanitarian organization once said, that it’s always the poor who are most generous — not the rich.
"What we are observing is quite alarming," my colleague continued. The popular press and scandals are taking over the media,
whereas serious topics receive scant attention. We are heading towards a society consisting of those who are well informed and those who aren’t. But those who are sitting on the information are also those who control the world and pull the stings. One can always object that it has always been like this throughout history. The educated elite has the information and hence the power. But there are still large sections of the population who are not educated and don’t seem to care — but are addicted to "reality" TV and reading about scandal in high places. The only solution seems to be more and better education, but people are then always complaining about the quality of schools.
So, one can only wonder — solidarity, freedom of expression, freedom of the press. Have all these so cherished ideals become simple clich?s in the world in which we are living?
On these thoughts I wish you a wonderful day.