Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

We shouldn’t be grieving for the death of newspapers

My following article appears today in Online Opinion:

As a journalist who spends the vast majority of my life online, the seemingly never-ending debates about the future of the media and newspapers can be exhausting and predictable.

The same mantras are heard over and over again. Where will the news come from when newsprint dies? Our democracy is in jeopardy if more people don’t engage with the news of the day. Bloggers are parasites. Young people have less interest in investigative, time-consuming reporting. What kinds of jobs will be available for the journalism students of tomorrow? The old business model of almost solely relying on advertising is dying a painful death.

All of these questions are relevant and necessary but ultimately circular and indulgent. It’s hard to disagree with the recent conclusion of Washington Post columnist Michael Kinsley: “If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.”

But what kinds of news?

For the vast majority of the world, relying on Western news service is rarely considered because of the narrow focus and parochialism of their global coverage. I remember hearing Middle East correspondent for the Independent, Robert Fisk, telling me that he would dine in the evening with senior reporters from the Washington Post, New York Times and other leading American publications and hear compelling stories and honest discussions about the realities of the Middle East. By the next morning, however, the same journalists had published articles that avoided tackling the key issues in the region. Bravery was saved for private conversations over glasses of expensive wine.

With notable exceptions, the American mainstream media shies away from examining the brutal reality of Palestine. The Israeli occupation is almost invisible. The influence of the Zionist lobby on the political and media elite deemed to be conspiratorial.

Witness the recent case of Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, forced to resign after extreme pressure from the Israel lobby. But it was only online through blogs that the issue publicly existed. The majors, such as the New York Times, only registered the case after Freeman pulled out. Big media was deliberately asleep at the wheel.

The question in the Freeman wasn’t so much a lack of resources to report the facts – after all, the story didn’t require overseas travel, as all the players were in the US – but a lack of will. Much of the debate about the crisis in old media (and news about the closure of institutions like the Boston Globe is certainly concerning) overly focuses on a belief that simply keeping newspapers alive will continue to guarantee democracy and transparency. In my view, it will not. Debates over “public trust” journalism are therefore essential. New models are already emerging.

In fact, what we should be asking is whether the old models are adequate to sustain reporting in the modern age. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald recently wrote, far too many journalists play by the rules of anonymity, allowing the corporate, media and governmental elite the luxury of sanctioned links. Democracy isn’t served by far too many journalists seeing their role as integral to the establishment set.

For these reasons alone, we shouldn’t be grieving for the death of newspapers, as the vast majority of reporters working there have long viewed themselves as players, desperate to be liked and feted by colleagues, editors, politicians and media advisers.

Greenwald, speaking last week on the PBS program hosted by Bill Moyers, explained the problems with this arrangement in the US:

It’s actually the fact that reporters and media stars and corporate and establishment journalists are so embedded into the establishment as a cultural and sociological matter. That they’re so completely insular and out of touch from what public opinion actually is. And polls show that huge numbers of issues and positions that are held by large numbers of Americans are ones that are virtually never heard in our media discussions.

This situation is not something that we should worry about losing. If this is the bulk of the mainstream media in 2009, alternatives are surely needed.

Of course, bloggers can be co-opted as easily as corporate journalists and a growing number are. But independence in the modern age can stand for something other than exclusion from press conferences and parties. It can mean integrity, accountability and trust, all factors sorely lacking in the public’s attitude towards the mainstream press. It’s difficult to feel sorry for old media companies that failed to adapt quickly to the internet age, a time where asking what the readers want, rather than just the publisher and journalist, is central. Perhaps non-profit organisations are the way forward.

Israel/Palestine is one issue that demands a new media approach: likewise many other conflicts around the world. Indigenous voices remain hidden. When was the last time we read articles in our newspapers written by Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Palestinians or Tamils? Hardly ever. It’s as if Westerners, most often men, have to visit a country for a perspective to be heard. This is an issue I examine more deeply in my book, The Blogging Revolution.

One of the key reasons I wrote the work was to highlight the vast gaps in Western media knowledge when it comes to countries such as Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Syria and Egypt. Blogs were one of the ways to understand a culture largely hidden behind the iron curtains of “repression”, “dictatorship” or enemy of Washington.

For many years now, the best sources on the Middle East have largely not been the Western establishment press. A US blog such as Mondoweiss gives daily information about Israel/Palestine and Jewish identity lacking from most mainstream papers. Israeli paper Haaretz shows that honest reporting on the West Bank occupation and Gaza is possible (and the Zionist lobby therefore recognises the paper as a threat). Any number of other bloggers – such as this Israeli detailing the devastating effects of checkpoints on Palestinians – have almost replaced the old sources by necessity. If corporate reporters won’t report the truth – because of fear, bias, intimidation, gutlessness or owner’s rules – then blogs will fill the space.

The last ten years have seen an information revolution of unparalleled proportions. The coming decade is guaranteed to be as challenging. Rather than worrying about journalistic practice, less reporters doing more work and diminished democracy, we should be celebrating what’s possible.

And create our own media today.

6 comments ↪
  • http://benjaminsolah.com/blog Benjamin Solah

    Great article. I've never had much faith in corporate media at all. They're owned by some of the richest men in the world and they'll bloody make sure what's reported is in their interests, that of the rich, and make sure things against their interest, that threatens their rule, won't be published.

    Blogging plays some part in bypassing that filter of corporate media, but ultimately, I think, change comes from the consciousness people gain when what happens around them, what they see for themselves, contradicts what Rupert Murdoch and Co. try to tell them.

  • paul walter

    Well, if the print versions of the AGE and SMH have deteriorated even a fraction as badly and rapidly as the online versions, I'd say there is a LOT of significance aesthetically, of the death of the commons type, let alone tragic sabotage/wastage of expertise and resources, with the "death of broadsheet".

    Its a sort of press/media version of Kristallenacht: so ugly and unsettling to watch the new brownshirts go about their business.

    The really sad example came on Media Watch this week, involving the once world-renowned "Age" reduced to overt brainwashing kids thru in-program placement passed off as "editorial", as to meat products.

    It left me with the same feeling I get walking thru a shopping centre, when I watch seedy great-coat types rummaging thru dumpsters for cartons, cans and the like.

  • delia

    This is an excellent article, the grammar error in the opening sentence notwithstanding. What the MSM is good for is getting a quick take on the current propaganda. My day begins with a brief glance at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and three or four other major papers; then it's on to TPM, the Nation, War in Context, the Real News, a few other indies, and the blogs to find out what's really going on. But not everybody has the time for this–and that is the problem.

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  • anon

    I find Hagar good in the SMH when a copy becomes available in the coffee shop. I later look up Antony, Whatreallyhappened.com, the informationclearinghouse.com, 911blogger.com, the rawstory, Alex jones' prisonplanet and a few others. Sometimes the stories later turn up in the mass media; about 3 days on average, then again, others never turn up, as for example; David Chandler's three part presentation in rregard to the NIST report on builidng No 7 at the WTC indicting the 2.25 second freefall which demonstrates that that building must have been blown up, the 9 scientists who have just published a peer reviewed paper on the finding of nano-thermitic exploscive in the dust of the Twin Towers and that surely indicates that the controlled mass media is a fraud.

    Weapons of mass deception anyone? How aout some 'concoction of war on terror' and a bit of hate to encourage support to go kill Iraqis and Afghans to steal their oil and put in a few pipe lines.

    The controlled corporate mass media and their apologists are surely culpable for all the killings and they will have to face their demons, as the world is waking up.

    Spend your paper money on a good cup of coffee, you will be better informed by just sitting and thinkig for yourself.

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