Lets take a look at the BBC which is generally regarded as the benchmark for fair reporting. If you want to know what is going on in the world the BBC is a fairly good source of information. But it falls down in one crucial respect. It doesn't report alternative views. It sticks rigidly to whatever is the view of the ruling consensus. Thus you only ever hear one side of the story. In a previous post I blogged about the BBC's craven reporting on Israel. The BBC didn't explore what had happened in the attack on the Gaza aid ships. Instead of investigating what really happened it merely repeated Israeli propaganda. If you think this is just my view read this article by the experienced journalist Robert Fisk in today's Independent. Fisk knows the middle east well. He has years of experience and knows what he is talking about. He is not some Palestinian stooge.
If you want to really understand what is going on in the world you can't rely on the capitalist media. The 'free press' is anything but. It serves the interests of those capitalists who own it just as surely as Pravda served the interests of the Politburo in the Soviet Union. What makes it seem credible is that there are still dissenting voices in 'western' media. People like Johan Hari in the Independent and George Monbiot and Seamus Milne in the Guardian. These people are worth reading. But they are the exceptions.
Anyone who wants to know what is going on needs to look around for sources of alternative reliable information. There are sources on the web but they are not all reliable by any means. You could try Counterfire, Indymedia or Youtube. They all have their limitations but are worth looking at. For example, at the moment on Counterfire website there are some excellent videos and articles about the testimonies of the survivors of the Gaza aid flotilla attack, the banker's coup, and the poverty of ordinary South Africans surrounded by the obscene wealth of the World Cup jamboree. The beauty of something like Indymedia is that it reports the side of the news in the UK that you never hear about in the mainstream media. For example the struggle of ordinary people, trade unionists and ant-fascists against groups like the English Defence League.
Of course most of us lead busy lives and haven't got a lot of time to look at alternative sources. But just try this at least once a week - instead of watching the 6 o'clock news on the BBC spend half an hour looking at Counterfire or one of the other independent media sources for an alternative view. Buy the Morning Star once a week instead of the Guardian. You won't regret it. In time you may wonder why you spent all that money on the 'free press' anyway.