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journalism, capitalism and the death of democracy ...

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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 05:17 PM
Original message
journalism, capitalism and the death of democracy ...
hi media group ... this is my first post in this forum ... i've actually never come in here before and i apologize for that ... the following is a crosspost from GD-Politics that stirred virtually no discussion at all ... maybe the title was a little "off-putting" ... i think the topic is critically important and hoped that those in this forum could perhaps offer some ideas on the issues raised ... the whole post leads to one simple, little question at the end ... i'd love to hear some constructive ideas ...

Note to Mods: i hope you allow this crosspost ... i think the topic needs some discussion ... thanks ...

for democracy (OK ... or even a republic) to exist, one thing's for sure ... we must have an informed electorate ... what good are elections, even "fair" elections, if nobody don't know nothin ... as alternative media outlets, the internet and other "underground" sources can help ... but most people get their "news" from the mainstream media ... that's why they call it "mainstream" ...

not only has the trend been towards greater centralization of the mass media with its resultant narrowing of divergent views, not only have the media bent to the prevailing political will to protect their access to key newsmakers, but perhaps worst of all the mass media have increasingly transitioned from their important traditional role of educating the electorate to providing infotainment for commercial purposes ... news "programmed by the government" and news dumbed down and filled with opinion rather than information is nothing less than the poisoning of the lifeblood of democracy ...

in today's NY Times, there's the following headline:
Murdoch Will Buy Rest of Fox Shares in $7 Billion Deal
... among other things, the article talks about how Rupert Murdoch's multi-billion dollar media empire will one day be inherited by his son Lachlan ... a little googling on "Lachlan" turned up the following quote from a speech he made back in 2002:

"The idea that owners of media organisations regard the practice of journalism as a public service is as outdated as the idea that businesses operate in the interests of a better world. . . If you want to apportion guilt, blame a system that demands growth and profits and lower costs from every public organisation."

your first reaction might be one of horror that someone who holds a view like this will someday inherit so much power and control over our mass media and sources of news and information ... but the truth of the matter is, he's right ... sitting at the root of the problem is not just a bunch of anti-democratic, un-American greedy corporate bastards ... sure, they contribute to the problem ... but Murdoch's son is 100% right ... the problem we have is that our system, our system of capitalism, does not provide a vehicle to protect the lifeblood of our democracy from commercialization ...

we're quick to blame media tyrants like Murdoch and the failure of the right-wing to limit the centralizing of media ownership ... we're right to do so ... but the problem still remains ... if news organizations do not maintain commercial viability, they fail ... the quality and the ideology don't really matter; only making a buck matters ... without real controls on "serving the public's interests", the amount of real news and real information provided is left up to the whim's of corporate news management ... this is hardly a solid foundation needed for the protection of democracy ...

so, I'm looking for ideas ... let's not worry about their practicality at first ... let's get all ideas out on the table ... media change will not happen overnight or even anytime soon ... it will take a long process of educating the public to make our case ...

but something better start changing because an ill-informed electorate is the achilles heal of democracy and our society is rapidly becoming unable to meet the ideals embodied in our Constitution ...

the one simple question i ask is: how can we fix this ??
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MasonJar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 05:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. Of course the easiest solution is for the renewal of licenses to be
challenged and revoked instead of renewed. There have been examples of this occurring in the past few weeks. Also an easy solution would be to get the almighty dollar out of all elections. Getting rid of the corporate lap dag (GWB) would be a welcome starting point too. He keeps surrounding himself with easily defined crooks and self-inflated neo-cons.
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. ok ... but ...
the licensing idea is a good one ... i'm not exactly sure how the process would work but there used to be a time, at least with the broadcast networks, that the network itself had to be acting in the public interest ... probably something of a rubber stamp but it's a start ... this still doesn't address the cable clowns or print media ...

the campaign finance stuff, while a critical issue, may not be responsive to the question i was raising ... i couldn't agree more that big money is killing our democratic institutions ... but the question really dealt more with the profit motives of news departments than any political or ideological problems we see in our mass media ... to be sure, news or what passes for news, is politically biased ... but what i'm asking is: can we really expect a commercially motivated organization to choose high quality, sometimes dry, important information over sexed up, graphically oriented, sensationalized news ??

the national news couldn't get enough of OJ or Michael Jackson or that Peterson guy ... been hearing any newscasts lately about the influence of lobbyists on foresting legislation? heard any recent newscasts on global warming and the impact of hybrid vehicles? how about the increasing influence of corporations in our electoral process? and local news picks up the crumbs with fires, crimes and how the local sports teams fared ...

perhaps the problem isn't profit motive at all but a viewership that produces more revenues for dumbed down TV ... all i know is something better change if we want to keep our democracy ...
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Ready4Change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
3. Journalism is the breath of Democracy.
When journalistic standards are strangled, it is Democracy that suffocates.
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Lefty48197 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
4. You paint a pretty bleak picture
"the problem we have is that our system, our system of capitalism, does not provide a vehicle to protect the lifeblood of our democracy from commercialization ..."

We used to have journalists who oversaw our government officials and helped "shine a light" on their activities.
Journalism has been killed off by the corporate media and their
"race to the bottom". It's all a part of the Walmartization of America, and the flow of money from the many to the fewer and fewer.
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