Monday, February 13, 2006

 

The writing on the wall (October 31, 2005)

The local weekly, the Missoula Independent ran an article a couple of weeks ago, called "The Future of Journalism." It's a hopeful sort of story, highlighting several young journalists from different areas of the media, and implying that the future of journalism lies in their hands. Yet I see no publishers or media conglomerate owners among their ranks. We know what that means. These kids will either conform to the party line or be cast off. Dan Rather, in an emotional speech at Fordham School of Law this September, claimed there was a "New Journalism Order," a culture of fear in the newsroom. In his speech, Rather argued that pressure from media conglomerates combined with competition from 24-hour cable channels has created timidity in the mainstream media. Also, as an article in the LA Weekly says:
If big media look like they're propping up W's presidency, they are. Because doing so is good for corporate coffers - in the form of government contracts, billion-dollar tax breaks, regulatory relaxations and security favors.
The CEOs of GE and Time-Warner are devout Republicans. And, as Summer Redstone, head of Viacom (parent of CBS) admitted:
...while he personally may be a Democrat, 'It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.'
Opposed to the mainstream media are the weekly independents and blogs. But how much longer will they remain free of corporate control? Already "independent" weeklies are being bought up by corporations: Village Voice Media, Inc., which owns the Voice, Seattle Weekly and the LA Weekly, is owned by Goldman Sachs, whose employees donated $301,225 to Bush's 2004 campaign. Surely the blogs are not far behind. There is already rumbling in the mainstream media about the irresponsible nature of blogs - sure, Malkin is an easy target, and we might agree that she is an idiot, a hate monger, and thoroughly evil...but isn't that the point? It's always been the fear of fringe radicals that has spurred the curtailing of civil liberties. If the Federal Elections Commission is considering whether a blog's linking to a candidate's website should be subject to regulation, if the WaPo suggested that the Internet's freedom enables Al Qaeda to operate, how long do you think it will be before this golden age of blogging will come to a screeching halt?

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