American journalism is in a crisis

The idea of news being operated as a public trust in the public interest has virtually disappeared.

I was 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 conglomerates increasingly 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.
Sign the Media Carta.

22 comments on the article “American journalism is in a crisis”

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quixotically be...

It was always a myth, anyway. Can anyone give an example of a time when the press was "being operated as a public trust in the public interest?"

The maxim that "freedom of the press only belongs to those who own a press"has been taken by some to mean that the Internet will provide more news content - but who will pay for reporters to go out and collect the news in the "Free Internet" model?

Any real renovation of the media has to put reporters at thr forefront and in charge of decisions. The editors and executives of the corporate media consist mostly of drunken slobs and corporate PR professionals. The left-wing and the right-wing media are no different - a little examination reveals that 99% of such "American alternatives" are funded by the very same corporate interests that control the "mainstream media" - only with less openness. (Amy Goodman, Alternet, Rush Limbaugh, National Review, etc.) This is done via the use of private foundations as cut-outs, in conjunction with lax laws regulating "non-profit corporations." (Rockefeller, Glaser, Scaife, Bradley, etc.)

An entirely new approach is needed - one that puts reporters in control, and lets the reporter, not the corporate editor, decide what the most important stories are.

quixotically be...

It was always a myth, anyway. Can anyone give an example of a time when the press was "being operated as a public trust in the public interest?"

The maxim that "freedom of the press only belongs to those who own a press"has been taken by some to mean that the Internet will provide more news content - but who will pay for reporters to go out and collect the news in the "Free Internet" model?

Any real renovation of the media has to put reporters at thr forefront and in charge of decisions. The editors and executives of the corporate media consist mostly of drunken slobs and corporate PR professionals. The left-wing and the right-wing media are no different - a little examination reveals that 99% of such "American alternatives" are funded by the very same corporate interests that control the "mainstream media" - only with less openness. (Amy Goodman, Alternet, Rush Limbaugh, National Review, etc.) This is done via the use of private foundations as cut-outs, in conjunction with lax laws regulating "non-profit corporations." (Rockefeller, Glaser, Scaife, Bradley, etc.)

An entirely new approach is needed - one that puts reporters in control, and lets the reporter, not the corporate editor, decide what the most important stories are.

Digidave

Coming from Dan Rather himself - how did Adbusters pull that off? Kudos.

I agree with Dan - the corporatization and comidification of news is a dire problem. That is why I am starting Spot Us (www.spot.us) a nonprofit to pioneer community funded reporting. If reporting is funded by the community - advertising and other corporate bottom lines can be brushed aside.

Digidave

Coming from Dan Rather himself - how did Adbusters pull that off? Kudos.

I agree with Dan - the corporatization and comidification of news is a dire problem. That is why I am starting Spot Us (www.spot.us) a nonprofit to pioneer community funded reporting. If reporting is funded by the community - advertising and other corporate bottom lines can be brushed aside.

greenmullet

I agree, but they could have picked a better spokesman than Dan Rather. What's the frequency, Kenneth?! And remember, he resigned.

http://greenmullet.com/

greenmullet

I agree, but they could have picked a better spokesman than Dan Rather. What's the frequency, Kenneth?! And remember, he resigned.

http://greenmullet.com/

gmundguy

Thanks for saying what needed to be said, Dan. PLEASE CONVINCE "RETIRED" PEERS (I know the "active" ones dare not bite the hand...) TO TAKE SIMILAR ACTION! Joe Shmoe American has NO IDEA what is going on...he/she is and will remain in a trance-like state until some people speaking with authority shake them out of it. You all unknowingly contributed to the madness, now do something to remedy it. This will not come overnight, but by standing up for what is right, others will join you. BRAVO!

gmundguy

Thanks for saying what needed to be said, Dan. PLEASE CONVINCE "RETIRED" PEERS (I know the "active" ones dare not bite the hand...) TO TAKE SIMILAR ACTION! Joe Shmoe American has NO IDEA what is going on...he/she is and will remain in a trance-like state until some people speaking with authority shake them out of it. You all unknowingly contributed to the madness, now do something to remedy it. This will not come overnight, but by standing up for what is right, others will join you. BRAVO!

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