Tag Archives: thomson reuters

Quakers and Business review of Fraudcast News

Screenshot from 2014-07-29 16:02:27

I was delighted to get a full review of Fraudcast News in a recent issue of The Friend magazine. Below is an excerpt while this a link through to the complete article.

How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies – A Review

An article by Elizabeth Redfern that appeared in the 4th July 2014 edition of the Friend.

Press corruption is sadly a subject we’re now familiar with, from the press’s own coverage of the Leveson Inquiry and more recently the trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and others, who – in what might become the longest criminal trial in English history – are charged with phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid. It would be nice to think that this is an unfortunate blip in an otherwise sparkling British press history. Certainly I hadn’t taken much notice of the inquiry or court case until I’d started to read Patrick’s book, when some familiar words started to nag at me.


Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism, publishing

Popular savvy about finance – more than just money

Screenshot from 2014-02-25 11:28:49


Geoffrey Ingham, a Life Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge has weighed into openDemocracy’s Just Money debate with a worthwhile article called: “Whose money is it?” He talks about how money is created and the way that relates to power.

The piece is part of a wider series run by OurKingdom to mark the publication of Ann Pettifor’s e-book, Just Money: How Society Can Break the Despotic Power of Finance. I’ll certainly check that out.

The series explores the nature of money and the politics of the financial system.

I tried to post a comment before getting tied up in knots with the site password system.

Rather than abandoning it, I’m putting it here instead.

Good piece – I totally agree that, like it or not, we have as individuals to wrestle with ideas of how money is created and this article helps in that process. It is essential for people to get to grips with this in order to give needed context to wider societal questions of both poverty and environmental despoilation. I would also recommend the work of Positive Money UK (http://www.positivemoney.org/)

The author did not touch on the aspect of our money-creation system that is even more problematic for all living beings – which is how it acts as a motor for wrecking the planet for all its inhabitants. Debt-based money demands interest repayments alongside the principal, which means we must all perpetually consume or face economic collapse.

Yet if the economic system doesn’t collapse, or we don’t manage to transform it – along with the existing money-creation system at its core – we will face a far more problematic collapse of the eco-system itself. Nature doesn’t do compound growth except as cancer, epidemic or plague. We need a money system with that reality embedded inside it.

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism

Fraudcast News reloaded, nearly

Picture 2

I am getting through the final stages of re-publishing Fraudcast News, a process that involves changing print-on-demand publishers (from Lulu to Lightning Source) to allow me a better distribution arrangement and greater flexibility in the cover design. That’s the idea anyway.

The first tangible evidence of the change arrived yesterday in the form of a printed copy in the new format and with the new cover. I am, of course, totally biased but it looks and feels much slicker.


Leafing through the pages, I am happy to say the book feels as relevant as ever, if not more so.

Once it’s done, I’ll be looking for all the help I can get in publicising the new edition and doing my best to get the thing read. All ideas and assistance would be hugely appreciated.


Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism, publishing

Ethics in journalism? Nice idea

Picture 1

I wrote the following email post for the Baron website in response to an article about the Hacked Off co-founder and ex-Reuters reporter Brian Cathcart.

It speaks for itself:

Brian’s doing a great job at Hacked Off [■ The Reuter Society – Brian Cathcart: My debt to Reuters]. I went to one of its events before Lord Leveson issued his report on the UK media, when I talked to Brian afterwards.

Where I think Hacked Off, and Leveson, and Reuters all miss the biggest trick is when they ignore the realities of power and how it works. That critical omission makes me nervous when I read unequivocal praise for the ethics supposedly in place at Reuters.

Ethics is a hefty concept. I don’t think Reuters scores that highly on ethics as it pertains to codes of behaviour. Granted, it’s much better than many news organisations but as Leveson made only too clear, that’s hardly difficult.

The principles of journalism drawn up in 1997 by the Committee of Concerned Journalists are far more comprehensive and ethically demanding than any at Reuters.

The second one of nine leaps out with regard to Reuters, given its cheek-by-jowl relationship with clients in global banking, markets and finance. The principle says journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens.

“While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization’s credibility, the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers. Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society…”

For the worldwide constituency of Thomson Reuters, the citizens to whom its journalists owe that allegiance are all of global humanity. In my experience as a Reuters reporter, this allegiance was a rarity when it came to daily editorial priorities.

So, yes, Reuters attempts to infuse speed and accuracy into its reports, correcting those it finds to be in error. It serially fails when it comes to claims of freedom from bias as seen from the perspective of a global citizenry. This is a critical flaw its defenders are generally unwilling even to acknowledge, still less correct.

1 Comment

Filed under democracy, journalism

Why the media don’t understand money

This is a recent talk I gave to the annual conference for the non-governmental organisation Positive Money.

A word to make clear my interests: Positive Money is an organisation whose work I greatly admire and for whom I have done some volunteer work in the last year or so and for whom I may do more in the future.

I choose to do that work, while also being a journalist, because I think the structural failures of our governance systems are such that they are an integral part of any story political journalists should be covering. That is true of debt-based money, the issue raised by Positive Money, but also of other issues such as poverty, inequality, incessant Western war-mongering and environmental despoliation.

Our leaders’ feeble attempts at regulating banks, international finance and global markets have totally failed, leading to ongoing financial crises since the global meltdown of 2007-2008. The false debates created with regard to conventional economics, and our policymakers’ fixation with a sterile definition of prosperity as determined by economic growth, are major barriers to change. Conventional media themselves fail to convey the extent of these governance problems, or even to appreciate that governance issues are the problem.

The question I was tasked to answer was why conventional media don’t “get” the idea of debt-based money. My answer could be easily adapted to fit these various other issues, as I make clear in Fraudcast News – How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies.

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism

Baronista LinkedIn logo image suggestions

I recently joined the Baronistas LinkedIn group, a place for online discussions between ex-Reuters and ex-Thomson Reuters people working in communications for non-profits such as international organizations and NGOs. I reckon it might be useful as a source of ideas and interactions.

It needs a logo so I’m parking a couple of images here, rather than on LinkedIn, as I don’t seem to be able to upload them directly there.

Picture 1

This one came from here:

Picture 4

Picture 3

The idea would be to put the Thomson Reuters into a barista “weetjes” or whatever you call those little milk fluff things. Maybe half “weetjes” and half logo.

Leave a comment

Filed under other stuff

Panel discussion: Conventional media have failed us – the case for and against

I’ve pitched this panel discussion idea to the Global Editors Network 2013 News Summit, to be held from 19 to 21 June 2013 in Paris.

Cat’s chance in hell is the expression that comes to mind. Well miaou!

The case for:
Conventional media have woefully failed to dissect the lack of any true, public accountability in all layers of modern western government, from local to global levels.

This collective failure plays out across all major areas of government. It encompasses the vast bulk of reporting on governments’ economic and fiscal thinking, their responses to serial financial crises and pitiful efforts at regulation of global banks and finance. The problem extends to the superficial news treatment of political inaction over growing poverty and inequality, accelerating climate change and species and habitat loss.

Media literacy concerning the realities of representative democracy, versus politicians’ rhetoric, is spectacularly inadequate. That makes existing media part of the governance problem, not the solution.

Patrick Chalmers, an ex-Reuters reporter himself and author of Fraudcast News, will dissect the media’s failure to highlight people’s powerlessness. He will argue that journalists and their employers, far from being popular watchdogs, suffer the same problems of elite capture as politicians and governments themselves.

Yet he remains a dogged optimist, suggesting there are alternatives. They include mass training of ordinary citizens to help them revolutionise their democracies by revolutionising journalism, building from the grassroots upwards.

The case against: I’m sure you can find someone!

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism, video activism

Worse than “cock-ups and casualties” at Thomson Reuters


I wrote this comment in response to a commentary piece by ex-colleague and current friend Paul Holmes about recent editorial changes being for the better at Thomson Reuters, despite the recent “cock-ups and casualties”.

I disagreed.

Patrick Chalmers • I have a great deal of respect for Paul Holmes as an ex-colleague and as a human being. This measured critique of Thomson Reuters today versus all its yesterdays is very much true to Paul’s style.

Where I think Thomson Reuters totally misses the mark, as I told Paul when we were both on staff and which I say all the louder now I’ve left, is that it fails to imagine anything but the narrowest idea of “independence, integrity and freedom from bias”.

The Reuters of my dreams, before I joined it and during the 11 years I worked there, was one that served the whole of humanity. That is what I imagine as freedom from bias. This is far from being the case.

As Paul notes in his piece, there are examples from today of excellent journalism by Thomson Reuters staff. These are, however, the exceptions rather than the rule. It is in the mass of coverage, the flood of day-to-day stories, that Reuters old and new totally fails its tests of “independence, integrity and freedom from bias”. Given its role as wholesale news supplier to the world’s media and also the internet – this is a spectacularly important failure.

This coverage is chronically biased towards the interests of established governments and capital, to the global corporations and financial markets that wield such outsized influence on the world’s seven billion people. The former come to power by electoral processes that are wide open to abuse by the latter. The latter are never elected, subject to only the scantest of scrutiny or global regulatory oversight yet they are so extraordinarily powerful. They also contribute the vast bulk of Thomson Reuters income.

So here comes the self publicity – I’ve written about all this in Fraudcast News, How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies. Not only do I lay out this case in detail, I also suggest governance and journalism solutions to be built from the ground up.

You can buy a copy or download it for free via this page (http://fraudcastnews.net/).

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism, publishing

News to make the rich richer

I wrote this comment in response to the following article by the World Association of Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers.

Thomson Reuters can hire all the new journalists it wants but won’t change anything fundamental about its daily news file. Sorry about that.

The agency deserves its reputation as providing a service that helps rich people get richer – that’s exactly what it does. Whatever its editorial cheerleaders might say about speed, accuracy and freedom from bias, they can’t escape the reality that the vast bulk of their clients, by value, work in finance.

The rarely spoken truth about journalism is that the news you get from any media outlet turns on a handful of factors.

They include income sources (banks/finance for Reuters), ownership (Reuters is controlled by a few very rich individuals), reporters’ choice of news sources (overwhelmingly traders, banks, economists, governments and other institutions), editorial ideology (profoundly one of dergulated banks, markets, trade, status-quo institutions and free-market capitalism) and, finally, the organisation’s response to real or feared “flak” or hostile elite criticism of its output (generally supine).

Despite serial financial crises around the world, various environmental ones looming, growing inequality across many countries and plummeting faith in conventional politics and politicians we get what from Reuters in response? Nothing sustained, nothing coherent and nothing journalistically credible – despite its mammoth editorial operation.

The only comfort for Reuters is that it’s in good company with all the other major globe-spanning and national news organisations you might care to name. None serves ordinary people’s interests or highlights the farce that representative democracy has become in the face of modern markets, finance and corporations.

It took me 11 years as a Reuters reporter (1994-2005) to realise the lock down on editorial thinking created by these different factors combined together. I was lucky to be able to grab a voluntary redundancy cheque and get out in search of alternatives.

So what did I find? The good news is that there are alternatives, the bad that they take time to build. They include doing journalism focused on governance and accountability to citizens as its core role, illustrating the global and national from local perspectives. It means training others to do the same and to share the content for free to help improve our political and media literacy.

In essence, it’s the sort of thing I dreamed Reuters could do before I got tired of banging my head against the wall trying to persuade my editors that that was what “freedom from bias” really meant.

I get into the whys and hows in far greater detail in my book Fraudcast News – How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies. It’s free to download as a PDF via the link or to buy as an eBook or paperback.

And no, I’m not expecting a Pulitzer.


Filed under democracy, journalism