Media Accountability

Regular “Comments” readers should have gathered by now that one of the overarching themes of this site is media accountability and the role of the independent media in our democracy. As Americans we live under a government which states in it’s founding document that it was created “by the people, for the people.” Unfortunately, this principle is irrelevant if the information we are given does not do an adequate job of informing us of the those issues that are vital to our interests.

 

As an undergrad I majored in communications and minored in journalism which fueled my passion about these issues. I understand that Americans are working longer hours for less and less pay and as a result we have increasingly less time to educate ourselves on matters of personal and public importance. With this in mind, we take for granted that the organizations entrusted to provide us with this information have our best interests in mind. Disturbingly, I have come to realize that this is simply not the case.

 

The majority of the media in this country – newspaper, radio, book publishing, television networks,  and cable & satellite – is owned by six mega-corporations. In a nutshell, the goal of these corporations is to maximize profits for the benefit of their ownership, the shareholders, not you and me. As a result, the news product we receive from the corporate media looks more and more like a tabloid magazine then journalism. More importantly, with the advent of The Fox News Channel the model has begun to shift from news reporting to molding of public perception via opinion and, nay I say, propaganda. The Fox News model has been so financially successful that it has lured the other cable news networks into following their lead. As a result, today’s media consumer can expect to turn on the television and be greeted by 24-hour “news” dominated by hours of pundits debating the “facts” of the Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, or Scott Peterson trials. Discussions of serious issues of global importance are argued about by Republican and Democratic partisans spewing talking points and seeing who can shout the loudest. Journalists and reporters have been replaced by stenographers and hacks who, out of sheer laziness and in the interest of cutting costs, simply echo White House press releases no questions asked.

 

This is unacceptable and a detriment to our democracy. Case in point, in her book The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing oily politicians, war profiteers, and the media that love them Amy Goodman had this to say about the role the media played in building American consent for the War in Iraq.

“The media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) did a study of the”experts” who appeared on-camera on the major network news shows during the critical week before and week after February 5, 2003- the day Secretary of State Colin Powell made his case to the UN Security Council for invading Iraq. This was at a time when 61 percent of Americans supported more time for diplomacy and inspections. The FAIR study found that only 3 of 393 sources – fewer than 1 percent – were affiliated with antiwar activism.”

The rest is history. No questions from the media about the “smoking gun” in the form of a “mushroom cloud”, no questions about the mobile biological weapons vans, no questions about the stockpiles of WMD, all of which have since been proven to be false. The media were complicit in creating public support for this war, a war that is not in our best interest but has certainly been in the best interest of many corporations.

 

It is my opinion that our corporate media has fallen asleep at the switch. Therefore, it is up to us to change the direction the media has taken. The first thing you can do is start seeking out independent media outlets who are not beholden to corporate interests. My favorite is DemocracyNOW! which is available via the internet at www.democracynow.org, on several public radio and television stations, and on DishNetwork channel 9415 (Free Speech TV) and on DirectTV via World Link TV Channel 375. Also, I urge you to join MoveOn.org in their efforts to get FOX News to stop misleading their viewers by claiming to be “Fair and Balanced.” Lastly, have a look at the following sites; FAIR, MediaCarta, MediaChannel, Media Matters for America, Take Back the Media , and the IndyMedia collective.

One Response to “Media Accountability”

  1. Ben says:

    Energy and National Security:

    I am surprised that you and other observers have not been writing about Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who is clearly using his board position and growing ownership stake in News Corp. to get Fox News to aggressively oppose efforts in Congress to create a new, clean energy future that is not dependent upon (his) Saudi oil.

    Al-Walid bin Talal has been quietly increasing his share and influence in News Corp. He now he serves on the board where he gives critical support to media mogul Rupert Murdoch. (Murdock would lose control of News Corp without bin Talal’s voting shares.) In December, bin Talal pushed News Corp to buy a 10 percent stake in Arab media company Rotana, with an option to acquire another 10 percent. Murdock and bin Talal expanded their strategic partnership when they signed the agreement to acquire this stake in the Saudi royal’s Rotana. As Fox News craws in bed with Arab oil interests, Glenn Beck presents Fox News Channel as a hyper-American news organization when in truth it is controlled by a native Australian and a Saudi (oil) Prince.

    We know the Saudi prince claimed in 2005 that he persuaded Murdoch to immediately stop identifying Muslim unrest in France as “Muslim riots.” They changed the story and took out reference to “Muslims”…

    With his growing control, there should be little wonder why Fox News is creating a backlash to climate/energy legislation pending in the U.S. Senate. If this energy bill passed, the U.S. would begin to wean it’s dependence on Saudi oil by creating domestic clean energy needed end this dangerous addiction. What Fox News paints as socialism is in fact a way to end our addiction and keep $1 billion dollars a day at home.

    When will conservatives in America wake up and look behind the curtain at Foxx News to see who is actually calling the shots at all of the News Corporation’s holdings?

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