The idea of news being operated as a public trust in the public interest has virtually disappeared.
Iwas taught that everybody realized that news was a public trust. But it’s reached the point now where five or six corporations control the mass media in the United States. These international conglomeratesincreasingly have many more moneymaking interests – they have defense contracts, they run entertainment companies, they have billboards.
The corporate interests have such wide-ranging overlap that they need favors from people with power in Washington. Sometimes those powers are from the Democratic Party, sometimes they are from the Republican Party. I think it’s really important people understand that the idea of news being operated as a public trust in the public interest has virtually disappeared.
The reason I’m deeply concerned about this is because the press, increasingly, doesn’t have the courage to stand up to government and government propaganda. Or, in some cases, even to report the truth. We’ve now reached the point where I think American journalism is in a crisis.
I believe the American people want to stand up to political pressure and say, “Report the news the way we want you to report it and if you don’t, you will be made to pay a price.” It has led to a situation where the red beating heart of a representative democracy, a free press, is run by large multinational conglomerates. They work in myriad ways, particularly in secrecy, and their influence is far too great in newsrooms.
I’m confident that if people at large understand that, then they’ll begin to speak out against it and things can be done to eliminate it. The Federal Communications Commission hasn’t been getting heat from the public. They get heat candescently from big media companies, so they work out of public view. The people in government respond to that heat. What we don’t have heat from is the public.
Change the way information flows and the way meaning is produced in our society.