Journalists covering protests against multinational companies are facing a "crisis of reporting", according to award-winning journalist John Pilger, whose new film on injustice in the global economy is being broadcast on ITV next month.
The New Rulers of The World, produced by Carlton, examines the widening gulf between the world’s rich and poor, taking the example of Indonesia, whose sweatshops supply many of the UK’s high street shops with branded clothes.
Featuring interviews with officials from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the film, to be broadcast on 18 July, examines the role those institutions have played in Indonesia’s economy.
It also examines what Pilger believes is the media’s failure to report on the arguments and concentrate instead on the protests.
"It’s one of those issues that represent a real crisis of reporting and a question for journalists now," said Pilger. "They need to ask if they are going to cover the stories only in terms dictated to them by the authorities and the police or are they going to report them as genuine expressions of public disquiet and opposition to the globalisation of poverty."
He believes the fact that nothing about global trade was mentioned during the election campaign signifies its importance to the UK Government.
"There’s a perverse kind of measure that if it’s not discussed, it has to be important," he said. But he was critical of both politicians and the media for failing to pick up on an issue that he said was motivating younger people who had no interest in party politics.
"The received wisdom is that people these days are apathetic," said Pilger. "But while the election campaign was reduced to a ritual between politicians and journalists, millions of people across the world are beginning to get involved in a more exciting and vibrant politics and to make their voices heard on the new economic order being imposed on them."
Pilger, who has made more than 50 documentaries for ITV, wrote and presented the hour-long film, which was directed and produced by Alan Lowery. It will be previewed at the National Film Theatre on 16 July and has already been bought up by broadcasters in Australia and the US, and has generated interest worldwide.
Pilger, whose films on ITV were described by Jon Snow as its "fig leaf" to current affairs, said he thought the Channel 4 News presenter should look to what Channel 4 did, rather than criticise ITV.
"Channel 4 and the BBC have historically promoted themselves as the home of documentaries, but with so much so-called ‘reality TV’ infecting serious television, there are serious questions to be asked. But I don’t get the impression that I’m a fig leaf – I get a great deal of support."
Last week, Pilger was awarded the Monismanien Prize, given in memory of Torgny Segerstedt, a Swedish editor whose Gothenburg newspaper continued to criticise the Nazi regime throughout the Second World War.
The prize was in recognition of Pilger’s "sharp-sighted and critical analysis" and his devotion "to penetrating disclosures of significant events".
By Julie Tomlin