( – promoted by buhdydharma )
(I couldn’t think of a title for this ‘essay’. But I like Noam Chomsky and I quote him 🙂
It is obvious our corporate controlled media often fails in its job of keeping the public informed and holding those with power accountable( i.e Iraq). All too often the media is willing to carry the water for the Power elite.
As Noam Chomsky said
We live in an era of media concentration, vast efforts on many fronts (political, economic, military, ideological) to insulate state and private power from critical discussion or even popular awareness, and to reduce citizens to isolated atomized creatures restricted to satisfying personal ‘created wants.’ This massive and coordinated campaign has been partially successful, but only in a limited way.
Media reform advocate Professor Robert McChesney makes a point similar to Noam Chomsky.
Policy debates focus on marginal and tangential issues because core structures and policies are off-limits to criticism. In this environment, policy debates tend to gravitate to the elite level and public participation virtually disappears. After all, for most people, minor media policy issues are far down the list of important topics. Sweeping media reform is unthinkable – and politically impossible. The public’s elimination from the process is encouraged by the corruption of the U.S. political system, in which politicians tend to be comfortable with the status quo and not inclined to upset powerful commercial media owners and potential campaign contributors. The dominant media firms enjoy the power to control news coverage of debates over media policies; this is a power they have used shamelessly to trivialize, marginalize, and distort opposition to the status quo.
For the traditonal media it is ok to have us drown in the excessive commentary about Obama’s bitter comments or (insert trivial news story here). Just give us another trivial non-issue made into something that dominants our attention, while important stories fly underneath the radar and discussion is kept at a mim.
(Outside of a few websites) I have heard such little commentary on the documented war crimes of Bush, or the violation of his oath of office (breaking the 4th amendment). But it is to be expected. The media must help maintain the necessary illusions the power elite needs to thrive. The power elite needs to the media to help keep its rigged system going, without serious discussion of the crimes and failings of our leaders in government, the military, and in business.
Our media can only feed us large amounts of processed junk food not organic fruits & veggies. They don’t want a healthy informed public looking critically at power structures of this country.
The debates that dominate the news are narrow, and it became more narrow back in the 90’s when our corporate two party system failed the people. That is when Bill Clinton and the Republican controlled congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 .
Bill Moyers had this to say about the legislation
Both parties bowed to their will when the Republican Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That monstrous assault on democracy, with malignant consequences for journalism, was nothing but a welfare giveaway to the largest, richest, and most powerful media conglomerations in the world. Goliaths, whose handful of owners controlled, commodified, and monetized everyone and everything in sight. Call it “the plantation mentality.”
Common Cause documented the bill and its adverse consequences for democracy.
Lifted the limit on how many radio stations one company could own. The cap had been set at 40 stations. It made possible the creation of radio giants like Clear Channel, with more than 1,200 stations, and led to a substantial drop in the number of minority station owners, homogenization of play lists, and less local news.
Lifted from 12 the number of local TV stations any one corporation could own, and expanded the limit on audience reach. One company had been allowed to own stations that reached up to a quarter of U.S. TV households. The Act raised that national cap to 35 percent. These changes spurred huge media mergers and greatly increased media concentration. Together, just five companies – Viacom, the parent of CBS, Disney, owner of ABC, News Corp, NBC and AOL, owner of Time Warner, now control 75 percent of all prime-time viewing.
The Act deregulated cable rates. Between 1996 and 2003, those rates have skyrocketed, increasing by nearly 50 percent.
The Act permitted the FCC to ease cable-broadcast cross-ownership rules. As cable systems increased the number of channels, the broadcast networks aggressively expanded their ownership of cable networks with the largest audiences. Ninety percent of the top 50 cable stations are owned by the same parent companies that own the broadcast networks, challenging the notion that cable is any real source of competition.
The Act gave broadcasters, for free, valuable digital TV licenses that could have brought in up to $70 billion to the federal treasury if they had been auctioned off. Broadcasters, who claimed they deserved these free licenses because they serve the public, have largely ignored their public interest obligations, failing to provide substantive local news and public affairs reporting and coverage of congressional, local and state elections.
The Act reduced broadcasters’ accountability to the public by extending the term of a broadcast license from five to eight years, and made it more difficult for citizens to challenge those license renewals.
Of course things have gotten worse since 1996 with Bush as President. Bush’s war on the press has pushed for greater media monopoly.
The Administration continues to make common cause with the most powerful broadcast corporations in an effort to rewrite ownership laws in a manner that favors dramatic new conglomeratization and monopoly control of information. The Administration’s desired rules changes would strike a mortal blow to local journalism, as media “company towns” would be the order of the day. This cozy relationship between media owners and the White House (remember Viacom chair Sumner Redstone’s 2004 declaration that re-electing Bush would be “good for Viacom”?) puts additional pressure on journalists who know that when they displease the Administration they also displease their bosses.
Professor McChesney in response to the media consolidation helped organize the National Conference for Media Reform. “The National Conference for Media Reform is an event for anyone who is concerned about the state of our media and committed to working for change.”
The National Conference for Media Reform will hold its 2008 meeting in June at Minneapolis.
Join In These Times, Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Arianna Huffington, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Juan Gonzalez, Van Jones, Lawrence Lessig, Sen. Byron Dorgan, FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, thousands of media reform advocates, independent media, reporters, bloggers, and organizers at the National Conference For Media Reform, sponsored by Free Press, June 6-8, 2008, in Minneapolis, MN.
Over three days, the conference will feature 60 fascinating panel discussions and workshops plus inspiring speeches, multimedia presentations, film screenings, roundtable meetings with policymakers, regional caucuses for you to meet media reformers from your home state, and dozens of receptions and parties. We will focus on broadening the media reform movement, envisioning the future of our media system, harnessing new technology for change, and achieving concrete policy victories through sustainable organizing. http://www.inthesetimes.com/ev…
Bill Moyers who spoke at the 2007 conference in Memphis gave a great speech.
I will confess to you that I was skeptical when Bob McChesney and John Nichols first raised with me the issue of media consolidation a few years ago. I was sympathetic but skeptical. The challenge of actually doing something about this issue beyond simply bemoaning its impact on democracy was daunting. How could we hope to come up with an effective response to any measurable force? It seemed inexorable, because all over the previous decades, a series of mega-media mergers have swept the country, each deal bigger than the last. The lobby representing the broadcast, cable, and newspapers industries was extremely powerful, with an iron grip on lawmakers and regulators alike…
Big Media is Ravenous. It Never Gets Enough. Always Wants More. And it Will Stop at Nothing to Get It. These Conglomerates are an Empire, and they are Imperial.”
And today, two basic pillars of American society, shared economic prosperity and a public sector capable of serving the common good, are crumbling. The third pillar of American democracy, an independent press, is under sustained attack, and the channels of information are choked. A few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape in America. Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media common conglomerates. Two-thirds of today’s newspapers are monopolies.
“the question of whether or not our economic system is truly just is off the table for investigation and discussion, so that alternative ideas, alternative critiques, alternative visions never get a hearing. And these are but a few of the realities that are obscured. What about this growing inequality? What about the re-segregation of our public schools? What about the devastating onward march of environmental deregulation? All of these are examples of what happens when independent sources of knowledge and analysis are so few and far between on the plantation.”
The Orwellian filigree of a public sphere in which language conceals reality, and the pursuit of personal gain and partisan power, is wrapped in rhetoric that turns truth to lies and lies to truth. So it is that limited government has little to do with the Constitution or local economy anymore. Now it means corporate domination and the shifting of risk from government and business to struggling families and workers. Family values now mean imposing a sectarian definition of the family on everyone else. Religious freedom now means majoritarianism and public benefits for organized religion without any public burdens. And patriotism has come to mean blind support for failed leaders.
So if we need to know what is happening, and Big Media won’t tell us; if we need to know why it matters, and Big Media won’t tell us; if we need to know what to do about it, and Big Media won’t tell us, it’s clear what we have to do. We have to tell the story ourselves.
Bill Moyers is an American hero and an inspiration…. (I also loved his interviews with Joseph Campbell.)
During these Bush years and abject failures of the corporate media my hope and solace has been the internet. We’ll see if the intenet can continue to be a silver lining in our current dystopian media landscape.
The range and scope and dedication of popular activism has also increased, all over the world, reaching a level of international solidarity and mutual support that has never been seen before. The basic conflicts are very old, but they have taken quite dramatic and significant new forms, and the stakes are far higher than ever before. It is, regrettably, no exaggeration to say that the survival of the species is at risk — and many others with it. We all know why