— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Nafeez Ahmed, former Guardian contributor and currently crowdfunding Insurge, a new media platform, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the paper. Alan Rusbridger is stepping down as editor and will be moving to the Scott Trust which owns the Guardian and was set up to ensure it could remain editorially and financially independent. The Scott Trust was changed to a limited company in 2008, so it now has to be a profitable company, although any profits are put back into the trust. He says that the ‘elite of British society’ are on the board, which he says raises the question of constraints, and ‘stories can be pulled in a direct way.’ There are also indirect ways, such as self-censorship, when people learn what stories an editor doesn’t like, and eventually will not pitch certain stories because it becomes an ‘uphill struggle.’ His story with the Guardian started as a writer on geopolitics, particularly energy and environment. When Israel went into Gaza, he wrote a piece about Israel’s interests in getting control of the Gaza marine gas field, which could produce revenues of $6-8 billion a year. He had editorial control over his work, and published the piece to the website, and then received a call the next day saying it was not a proper environmental story, and they would discontinue his blog and terminate his contract. When he went public, he was supported by a couple of Guardian writers, who described a culture ‘where certain types of questions about Israel shouldn’t be asked,’ such as those challenging the status quo or Israel’s relationship with Western governments. He says that there is ‘some basis’ of Telegraph claims about the Guardian scuppering their own journalism due to advertisers such as Apple. And he says in the run up to the next election we will see ‘the battle of the oligarchs,’ as all different media is influenced by the interests that own it (2 March 2015)’.

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