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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 04:32 PM
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Hope Kerry's office saw this editorial.
And I hope media consolidation and overturning the 2003 FCC ruling is STILL a priority for Kerry in Small Biz Committee.

Published on Friday, December 15, 2006 by the Seattle Times (Washington)
Consolidation of Media is Unhealthy for Education
by Mark Emmert

I am the president of the University of Washington, but I am really here tonight as a citizen not as the university's president, but as someone who has spent his entire life in education as a student or as a teacher or as an academic administrator.
I don't pretend to be an expert on media consolidation and media ownership. I don't understand fully all of the economics of the dynamics that are going on in the media today. But, what I do understand is the educational process. And, what I do understand is the role of universities, especially research universities, in our society today. If you look at what happens in the academic setting of a university, what you see is that we are really charged with two simple tasks: the creation of new knowledge and new ways of understanding the world around us; and, second, disseminating that information to our students and to the world beyond the ivy walls.

Now, the consolidation or homogenization of information, the homogenization of the distribution of ideas around cultural creation, and the lack of diversity that comes from that homogenization of opinions are completely antithetical to the creation of new knowledge, the creation of new cultures, and the transmission of those to society.

It is utterly impossible to have world-class universities like the United States has if we do not have the free flow of ideas, a clear and open exchange of diverse opinions and views, and forums in which those can be objectively discussed, debated and considered in a full and thoughtful fashion.

The consolidation of the media that I see under way right now around the United States is working exactly in the opposite of the directions that I, as an educator, think are healthy for our students, for our society and for our educational enterprises.

Think about young people coming to a university. Young people who have only seen single points of view in the media, who have only been fed cultural perspectives that are about as rich as fast food if they have never heard a free and open debate of ideas what kind of students are they going to be? What is the probability that they are going to challenge views and opinions in the classroom? What is the probability that they are going to be open to the diverse opinions that they are going to hear in the university? What's the probability that they, themselves, are going to be creative and invent new ideas going forward?

I have had the opportunity to go to universities in nations where the homogenization of opinions is, in fact, the only opinions that go forward. You can find students there who are very good at math. You can find students who are very good at reciting the scientific facts of the day. But, you will not find students who are creative. You will not find students who are pushing forward new scientific borders. You will not find students who want to debate issues with their classmates, let alone with their faculty. In short, you will not find the makings of democracy in those places.

The free flow of ideas, the diversity of opinions, the capacity to hear ideas locally and nationally, are absolutely critical to the educational enterprise.

Mark Emmert is president of the University of Washington. This guest column is adapted from remarks he made at a Federal Communications Commission field hearing Nov. 30 in Seattle on rules governing media ownership.

Copyright 2006 The Seattle Times Company
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