Saturday, January 13, 2007

Inside Media Reform Conference, Day Two

The conference is available for viewing on the FREE PRESS website. I have heard that they were on C-Span already, and the local paper has a front page story.


Saturday’s Opening Session: Senator Bernie Sanders


Hooray for Senator Sanders! I just love this guy.


Senator Sanders spoke about the importance of the media and how corporate control of media is influencing all aspects of life and politics. He said that all issues are controlled (to some extent) and related to the media. He predicts the end of corporate control of media. Some of the many points he made follow. In the issue of the Iraq war, media acted as a megaphone for the Bush administration, so they are also quite responsible for the violence, death and chaos in Iraq today. One issue that Sanders claims the media is not covering today is the collapse of the middle class in the USA. This reality of many working people’s lives is ignored. How they are struggling is not covered. So, when those Americans who are slipping out of the middle class turn to corporate media, they see the facts of their reality ignored and instead, the responsibility for the challenges they face is put back on themselves. They are being told it is a failure of “self-responsibility” that is the root cause of their problems. What is NOT covered by the corporate media is how politics in this country are impacting on the problems the slipping middle class are facing. Instead, they are presented with the reality that it is entirely all their own fault.


(Personally, I know that some people are struggling, and I realize that your ‘safety net’ can be non-existent in some situations, the most pressing one being a serious decline in one’s health. But I also see many people being greedy and living way beyond their means, and many more people who are clearly making bad choices for their lives. But clearly, Sanders is making some good points here – politics in this country is pushing more and more people out of the middle class, and concentrating wealth in fewer and fewer hands. That needs to be addressed. That needs to stop. )


Some other issues that Sanders noted is not on corporate media is: 1) single payer health care; 2) how the US has the most unfair distribution of wealth in the world; 3) virtually NO coverage of anti-war voices prior to the war; 4) coverage of Martin Luther King Jr. as an anti-Vietnam-war voice this coming Monday; and 5) no coverage of MLK Jr as a voice for social economic justice for all people.


Senator Sanders then went on to proclaim that now is the time to address whether corporate media is meeting it’s responsibilities and now is the time to bring back the fairness doctrine. He feels we need to stop media deregulation, and this is a serious, serious issues. He said that we will not have the kind of democracy that we want to have without major changes in the media and the way it works.


Citizen Journalism: Making an Impact in the New Media Landscape


Ellen Miller was the moderator, and she is from the Sunlight Foundation. This foundation tries to get government data and forms in the public domain and open for scrutiny. She made the comment that corporate media ‘misunderestimates’ the internet world and its contribution. Jay Rosen spoke about how media has changed in various ways over the centuries and how the media platform and direction is changing still today into an interaction instead of a one-way direction of information.

Christopher Rabb is the founder of Afro-Netizen. He talked about who he started with emailing friends with news aggregates and then moved on to blogging. He was invited to blog at the Democratic Party Convention. He talked about how reading other’s work on the internet gives an insider view to what that group may be thinking and feeling, but it may only be a sub-state of a certain group. He said that the power of citizen journalism is only as strong as our values, and we need to have the intentionality to bring everyone into the mix, so we don’t have that ‘elite’ subgroups.


Chris Nolan, works with Spot-On.com, and she asks that we not yell at the media, and that a blog is not a by-line. She claims that having a by-line somehow contributes to accuracy! Well, I don’t agree with her on that. Dan Gillmor started out saying he was a ‘recovering journalist’. He is with Center for Citizen Media. He said the beauty of the new media is the ability for all people to interact. He does hope that journalism does include some principles like accuracy and he comments that transparency is new in corporate media, but feels it is essential for citizen journalism – that we need to know where the citizen journalist is coming from. He expressed concerns about AT&T and what they might do to net neutrality.


Afterwards, I went to talk to Chris Nolan of SpotOn.com, and I found her to be somewhat dismissive of my addressed concerns. She had noted that a local press person had said “what do they want?” in response to a media reform conference in her town. I told her that I want press that does not quote DC pundits and DC idiot politicians and repeat that Iran will have usable nukes in a few years, without noting that they have been making this claim since 1991. Chris said that the press has deadlines, they take the wire print outs and use that – which basically to me says the corporate press are lazy and stupid. She commented to me that I was probably a well-informed person, and that’s apparently the reason why I am critical of this type of work by the press. So, does that mean that useless stupid information that will inspire the “dumb masses” out there to support war is okay, provided that there are no intelligent readers out there who know what is going on? Am I somehow special because I can do google searches and expect the corporate media to do so also? Well, let me say that I work as a pediatric audiologist, and have been working since 1983. I have MIS-diagnosed exactly one child in all that time, and he had a fluctuating hearing loss. I diagnosed him as being ‘normal hearing’ which I have no doubt he did on the first occasion I tested him. I expect the same standards in other people in whatever field they are working in. Somehow, in the corporate media, screwing up in your chosen profession is acceptable. I wish they would hold the same standards that I hold for myself in my chosen professional work. Or, in simple words, if you screw up routinely, you go find another line of work.


Capitol Hill Update: A New Congress


Representative Hinchey and Cohen were the only ones present for this debate, due to the fact that other contributors had travel delays or concerns. Rep Cohen commented on how PBS/NPR is on the “left” of the dial. I feel PBS/NPR is often inaccurate, and I really don’t care where it falls on the political spectrum. I had a friend who abandoned NPR after it discussed the stain on the blue dress for ten minutes. She felt that she had better things to do with her life. I have often heard things about the war in Iraq that are clearly wrong on NPR over the last few years. Rep. Cohen also said that he supports the Fairness Doctrine.


Rep. Hinchey congratulated Rep. Cohen for helping turn the US House of Representatives into a Democratic majority. The crowd here clapped and many stood up for that one. Personally, I will only clap for those who have proven that they hold and promote ethical values in the US Congress – like Senator Sanders. I do not stand up for someone just because they won an election.


Rep. Hinchey said the war on Iraq was totally misguided and illegal. He said he wonders how the congress of the US could have voted to give the President this authority and how the public could have been persuaded to support this illegal war. One of the ways this happened was though the coverage in the American media. He called the right wing of our country “neo-facists”. He called some of the reporting a “con job”. Rep. Hinchey expressed his concerns that this will happen again in the US – and may, in fact, end this democratic republic. He felt that many of the people involved in this deception have the real goal of ending our democratic republic. He pins a lot of the problems that we faced with the media in the build up to the war on MEDIA CONSOLIDATION, which started in the 1980’s. And then he commented that none of us knows everything, none of us know all the truth, which is why we need to hear from a vast variety of voices. We need the input, not the suppression of various voices of dissent. He commented that this was attacked and voices suppressed by the FCC under Reagan, which is where this all started. (I agree with all that he is saying, but he is only reviewing part of how we got where we are today. This may be new information to some people, but it is known history for me.) Rep. Hinchey says that Reagan administration pushed this agenda because they purposefully wanted to suppress voices on the left, because they knew that the only way they could win was to keep other voices out of the debate.


Rep. Hinchey commented on the recent actions by the Bush administration to maintain the CULTURE OF FEAR. He set up “The Future of American Media” caucus in congress. He is working on stopping media consolidation, and introducing a bill in the US House of Representatives on this. Senator Sanders will also introduce a bill in the Senate. He claims that with these bills, right wing nut radio and TV stations will have to present alternate views. (I think that is very optimistic! It should stop the ‘echo chamber’ however if we can bust up media consolidation.) He claims that it will take public pressure on congress to get this type of media reform passed. Rep. Hinchey says that all of us need to be involved, and we need to ask our elected legislators involved in backing these bills by Hinchey and Sanders. At the end, I stood up and clapped for Rep. Hinchey. And he’s right – it will take citizen action and citizen pressure to get congress to act, and then more pressure to enforce whatever bills they pass.

1 comment:

Janet said...

I like your blog, it’s always fun to come back and check what you have to tell us today.