First Amendment Forum, again Friday, Apr 16 2010 

Today I was able to attend one of the presentations that was a part of the First Amendment Forum on campus, put together by the SCSU Society of Professional Journalists, the Department of Mass Communications, the St. Cloud Times, and others. The topic of the presentation that I attended was “Protecting Journalism in the Era of Dying Newspapers and Social Networking.” Though the topic was about the death of newspapers and the rise of online content and social networking, most of the panelists discussed how they were using or had used social media to complement their writings as journalists, reporters, or editors. However, once the discussion was opened to those in attendance, the issue of the death of traditional media was brought up.

Namely, the issue of charging for online content was brought up. This issue is the same issue that I had addressed in an earlier blog post and letter to the University Chronicle. I didn’t bring it up, but I believe the person who did was the same person I wrote my post in response to (that is, Kyle Stevens). The person asked the panel what they thought about the media charging for online content.

A salient point that one of the panelists (Ramla Bile) brought up was that charging for the news online introduces some problems in that doing so bars certain people (namely the poor) from accessing the news. Bob Collins, who works for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), said he really wished the Star Tribune would start charging people to read online content, because he believed doing so would drive more people to MPR. Adam Hammer of the St. Cloud Times likened it to the music industry, and the challenges they faced with the digitization of music and the piracy of said music. He explained how people became accustomed to listening to music through digital media, and it was Apple who recognized this and created iTunes to provide a legal channel through which people could access this digital music.

Of course, there’s the other side of this issue. The content wasn’t produced without a cost. How are the media supposed to make money if they can’t charge people to view their content? Both views are valid. We need to balance the ability to make a profit through producing important news and the necessity of not pricing people out of the market for this important news. In other words, we want people to get paid for doing good journalism, but we don’t want to bar people from accessing this journalism simply because they can’t afford it.

Some people might just respond that if people can’t afford something, they don’t deserve it. If you can’t pay for it, why should I give it to you? The problem with this argument, however, is that important news is not just another commodity to be bought and sold. The news, as I have always said, is a cornerstone of democracy. (In economics, it might be called a public good.) Scholars and political theorists have long recognized that a free and vibrant press is the foundation of civic society and liberal democracy. This is what differentiates online news from, say, online music in Hammer’s example. Music is important, yes, but not necessarily a requisite for a functioning democracy.

The question, thus, becomes whether we want to limit the dispersion of knowledge and important news or if we want to make it as free and vibrant as possible. This is where I disagree with Stevens. He believed we should charge for online content, which would have the effect of pricing people out of the market for important news. As I said, though, we need to consider the fact that the content was not produced for free and there is a certain necessity to generate a revenue to at least cover the costs of making such important news available. The suggestion I made, basing my argument off the work of Robert McChesney and John Nichols in their book The Death and Life of American Journalism, was that there be a public subsidy for independent journalism. Both McChesney and Nichols present several convincing arguments in support of their case. A public subsidy for independent (that is, not corporate) news would solve the aforementioned balancing issue; the cost of producing important news would be paid for, and accessing this content would be kept free, allowing for the greatest number of people to access vital information.

Libertarian talking head? Saturday, Aug 29 2009 

Glenn Beck is a radio and television host who has a show named after him on FOX News. Unfortunately, this guy calls himself a libertarian and even more unfortunate is that some libertarians use him as their talking head. This guy has said some pretty very stupid stuff and is more of an entertainer than anything else. And what exactly is he rambling on about anyway?

I’m guessing it has to do with this. According to the latest count, a total of 46 advertisers have pulled out of the Glenn Beck program on FOX News, including UPS which has pulled all of its advertisements off the whole FOX News network. Why? Part of it is due to an organization called Color of Change and their efforts to stop Beck’s “race baiting.”

Here’s what Beck said in late July of 2009: “This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture … this guy is, I believe, a racist.” Of course, you must never mind the fact that President Obama has selected many white people to serve high-ranking positions within his government, not the least of which include Joe Biden as the Vice President, Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State, or Rahm Emanuel as the White House Chief of Staff, Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Fed, Leon Panetta as the director of the CIA, Janet Napolitano as the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kathleen Sebelius as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tim Geithner as the Secretary of the Treasury, and the list goes on and on. These are some of the most important jobs in country, all run by white people. And Obama selected them. Of course, you should also forget that President Obama is just as white as he is black (and was raised by his white grandparents). Still, though, he hates white people and the white culture.

Instead of apologizing for his diarrhea of the mouth, Beck defended his comments, saying, “I am not willing to bow before the king, I will never bow before the king. In America, we do not have kings.” Thanks for enlightening us, Beck, but that’s a straw man if I ever saw one. He also said he has the right to free speech (yet another straw man). No one denies this. No one has said he doesn’t have the right to say this. But the right to free speech goes both ways, including my right to criticize his idiocy that is promoted by FOX News. And, incidentally, it includes an advertiser’s right to not advertise on your show. What better manifestation of free market principles?

P.S. Beck, even though you’ve been taking days to come up with this, it’s spelled “OLIGARCHY“!

Corporate interests and the media Wednesday, Aug 12 2009 

As some might be aware, I am not a fan of corporate media. A while ago I wrote about whether the media are biased. The short answer: yes. The media are biased, but probably not because of the reasons you’ve heard touted by far-rightists who bemoan what they see as a leftist bias in the media. A popular way they try to prove this is to look at the voting habits of those who go into journalism, but this proves absolutely nothing about actual output. (It’s akin to saying “the workers on the factory floor decide what the car industry produces,” says Justin Lewis.) Instead, it is more helpful to look at the institutional structure of the media to understand its bias. Borrowing from the propaganda model developed by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, the three most important aspects to look at are ownership, funding, and sources. And what we find is that the media represent center to center-right views that are favorable to corporate interests.

Just a few days ago, I made a post about Bill Maher’s criticism of corporatism and the corporatization of certain social institutions, including the media. As discussed in my last post about the media, the news media are increasingly being controlled by fewer and fewer large multinational corporations such as General Electric, News Corporation, Viacom, Time Warner, etc. (See work done by Ben Bagdikian for more on that.) People often criticize big business and its influence on the news media; in reality, they are one in the same.

Recently, there’s been a good example. The New York Times published an astonishing article just a day earlier about corporate interests and its influence on the media. Never mind that its author, Brian Stelter, completely ignores the pertinent issues that make the story so astonishing.

Essentially, “at an off-the-record summit meeting for” CEOs, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, and Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of General Electric, came to agreement that the feud between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly should end. (Note that G.E. is the parent corporation of MSNBC and that News Corp is the parent corporation of FOX News.) For those unfamiliar, Olbermann hosts an 8 P.M. broadcast on MSNBC from which he often launches scathing attacks against O’Reilly and FOX News’ lies. O’Reilly, who also hosts an 8 P.M. broadcast but on FOX News, is a frequent critic of G.E. and their dealings in Iran. The NYT points out that both Immelt and Murdoch agreed this feud was creating “real consequences” and hurting “their parent corporations.” Mind you, this feud boosted the ratings for both MSNBC and FOX News. The real problem was that it was not serving News Corporation’s or G.E.’s corporate interests.

The result has been that Olbermann no longer launches his attacks against O’Reilly or FOX News, and that O’Reilly no longer criticizes G.E or its dealings. Corporate interests have been served, voilĂ . It had to be done through censorship, but who cares?

Like I stated in my last post about media bias, you should first ask yourself whether the media are free. And by this I mean whether their institutional structure allows for free expression of opinion. That Olbermann might be a member of the Democratic Party or that O’Reilly might be a member of the Republican Party is completely irrelevant if the media are not free. If they’re being censored by their corporate parents, we cannot honestly discuss journalists’ ideologies. The media, as Dr. Herman points out, “represent elite interests,” not public interest.

Sotomayor fuss Saturday, Jun 6 2009 

I find all the fuss about Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s pick as the replacement for the outgoing Justice David Souter, very interesting. The fuss is over how objective she could possibly be because she is a Hispanic woman who grew up in the Bronx (clearly a first for the high court). Republican Senator Jeff Session proclaims, “Although we sometimes take our heritage of neutral and independent judiciary for granted, the truth is, this great tradition is under attack.”

How does Sotomayor’s nomination for the Supreme Court constitute an attack on its integrity and tradition? Well, Sotomayor is supposed to be the exception, and the exception proves the rule. What’s the rule? The rule is that Supreme Court justices, who have all been white men with four exceptions, are neutral and completely independent thinkers. Sotomayor, because she is not a white man, is an attack on this rule (just as Justice Ginsburg was before her).

(A political cartoon appearing in an Oklahoman newspaper on June 2.)

Had President Obama nominated a white man, there would be no question about what kind of impartiality he would bring to the court because of skin color or sex. There was certainly no question when John Roberts was nominated by President Bush in 2005. So the latent assumption is that white men, perhaps by virtue, bring no subjectivity because they are white or because they are men. For the people who make this assumption, including the media, it never even crosses their minds that white men also have lived experiences that influence the way they think, what kind of assumptions they make, their perspectives, and ultimately how they judge. That Sotomayor’s lived experiences are not at all similar to the white man’s is frightening to them. They see it as an “attack,” an affront on justice.

What I find truly frightening is how broadly these beliefs are accepted.

Right-wing terrorism: the murder of a doctor Monday, Jun 1 2009 

Religious and political extremism exists in all shapes and forms. A sad realization of this fact took place just yesterday, when Scott Roeder shot and killed George Tiller outside of his church in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Tiller was one of three American doctors who performed late-term abortions.

Roeder has been described as an extreme anti-government right-winger who adheres to religious fundamentalism—the Christian sort. “The anti-tax stuff came first, and then it grew and grew. He became very anti-abortion,” said his ex-wife. After becoming associated with anti-government groups, he became “very religious in an Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye way,” she explains.

This is not the first time that violence has been used against Dr. Tiller. He has been a high-profile target for violent extremists throughout the years due to his practice. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by one Shelley Shannon, also a Christian “pro-lifer.” His clinic has been vandalized on numerous occasions, including being bombed in 1985.

These and this latest act of cowardly violence should be called what it is: terrorism. The term “terrorism” and “terrorist” cannot and should not be ascribed only to Muslims, a common practice by the media (you won’t hear the media call Roeder a terrorist). Violence in the name of Christianity is just as wrong as violence in the name of Islam, or any other religion or creed for that matter. All aggressive violence must be firmly rejected and opposed on all grounds. There can be no room for it in a civil, just, or moral society. Dr. Tiller’s church, the Reformation Lutheran Church, expounds: “We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.” Earlier, President Obama stated, “I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.” I could not agree more with the church or the president.

To cloak these deeply violent and anti-women beliefs with terms such “pro life,” “culture of love,” “righteous,” “Christian,” “Summer of Mercy,” is not only completely hypocritical, but also vastly disingenuous and truly Orwellian. The “pro-life” slogan, a particularly popular albeit empty slogan, is a contradictory one. It is a sham. So-called “pro lifers” ignore the actual life involved: the mother’s. (“Pro choice” is equally empty.) A woman’s body does not belong to men, the Church, or the State. They are not our breeding pigs. We cannot treat them as such. Abortion is and should always be an inalienable right for women.

LeMay responds in University Chronicle’s defense Saturday, May 2 2009 

Back in February, I wrote an indictment of the University Chronicle for what I perceived to be bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely as it relates to the two panels held on campus. To provide some context (see my previous post linked above for a more detailed explanation), the editorial board (consisting of Joey LeMay, mind you) published a diatribe lambasting the first panel’s outspokenness on the plight of Palestine. Keep this fact in mind for later. Then, in the next edition, LeMay wrote a front-page article on Dr. Edelheit’s presentation, which was supposed to be a response to the first panel that Dr. Edelheit rudely interrupted. The article, of course, was blatantly one-sided, as I noted in my previous post. Dr. Edelheit himself might as well have written it. Absolutely no perspective was given to the first panel’s point of view. But that’s all the past.

Now, however, LeMay has written a defense for the University Chronicle, in part because of what I wrote here. (Since I doubt they’ll publish anything during finals week and because of size restraints, it’s probably most prudent for me to respond here.) The gist of LeMay’s argument is that the University Chronicle simply does not have enough writers to cover all stories, however important they may be. Actually, he doesn’t quite say this. He says the panel’s discussion was too unimportant to be covered by its limited amount of resources. Expounds LeMay, “For its newsworthy value, the panel put on by Slisli and Tademe was not high on the list of intriguing events.” OK, so a panel of professors and students who have the courage to stand up against the predominating view in American society and say Israeli aggression is not acceptable is not “newsworthy.” To hold a panel on explaining the perspective that is too often ignored and not understood during a time of misperception and bias in coverage of a recent Israeli attack on Palestine is not “intriguing.” This is simply something that the student body would not be interested in hearing about, if we were to take the Chronicle’s argument. Gathering by the size of the crowd there that night, which was substantially larger than most crowds for 95% of university events, I think those people would beg to differ; the presentation was delayed because there were not even enough seats set out to accommodate all the people flowing in to hear this panel’s discussion. But that’s simply not “newsworthy” for the school newspaper. This, LeMay explains, is the reason no one showed up to cover the story.

It only became an “intriguing” story after a professor rudely interrupted the panel and disallowed them to present their topic, as the story goes. It takes a scandal of sorts—not actual relevant educational information—for there to be a story, apparently. So how does this explanation that LeMay gives jive with what actually happened? You’ll remember that in the publication following the first panel’s discussion (i.e. February 16), the editorial board responded to the events that took place that night. “As one of Minnesota’s largest higher learning facilities, where free thought and academic debate should be encouraged, we would be doing our students, faculty, and community a disservice by leaving voices unheard and considerations unexplored. Unfortunately, last Wednesday’s panel discussion on Israel’s invasion of Gaza was partisan and many question went unasked and unanswered,” writes the board. How could they possibly know this if no writers actually went to cover the event? Were they there to hear what the panel had to say? Were they there to listen to what question were asked? Were they there to hear what responses the panel had to give? Either LeMay is blatantly lying to us in his defense for the Chronicle or the editorial board (Ali Tweten, Paul Crawford, Andy Downs, and LeMay) was being intellectually dishonest in their response to the panel.

The front-page article written by LeMay that was in the following publication was, as I mentioned, completely biased. LeMay even admits this in his defense of the Chronicle: “I chose not to simply summarize Eidelheit’s [sic] claimed clarification of the events in Gaza. Instead, I focused on Eidelheit’s [sic] reaction to his treatment at the panel conducted by Slisli and Tademe, his problem with the Warsaw ghetto photo and the flyer, and the mixed reception he received from the audience.” You’ll note that he says nothing about the first panel’s reaction or their explanation for the photo they used. No, it was simply Dr. Edelheit’s perspective. But LeMay continues, “So, in order to say University Chronicle showed favoritism towards Eidelheit’s [sic] panel is misleading.” So, even after admitting he was biased in his coverage he says it’s misleading to call that favoritism towards Dr. Edelheit. That’s simply confounding. LeMay calls it “one of the best definitions of news I can think of.” Is it any wonder why there is “distrust in media and the idea that media skew their reporting”?

Media & the swine flu Thursday, Apr 30 2009 

The media are having a field day with the recent swine flu outbreak. What better opportunity for sensationalism and scaremongering? The media excel in these particular areas (for obvious reasons). I needn’t really provide any examples–one needs only to turn on the tube. Some recent headlines have been certainly confusing, if not contradictory, though. “Inaccurate ‘swine’ flu label hurts industry, pork producers say,” reads one CNN headline. “Swine flu name change? Flu genes spell pig,” reads another from the Associated Press. Never mind that what we call the virus is of so little importance. So, is it a “misnomer,” as CNN would have it, or is it truly a swine flu, as the AP article would suggest? The U.S. government and the World Health Organization (WHO) have stopped calling it the swine flu and instead refer to it by as its official scientific name, 2009 H1N1. But as the AP points out, this particular strain is six parts bovine, one part human, and one part avian–essentially a swine flu (note, though, you can’t get it from eating pork). Ah, but WHO is merely being altruistic by saving all the pigs that would otherwise be slaughtered if they continued to call it the swine flu. Right? Well, that’s how the story goes. So far, though, you have one death in the United States. As tragic as that is, the influenza virus kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year (see, e.g. Dushoff et al. 2005) and hundreds of thousands more worldwide. Obviously I don’t think there is enough perspective being given.

First Amendment Forum and the media Saturday, Apr 4 2009 

Yesterday, I was able to go to the 37th annual First Amendment Forum being held on campus. The theme was “Reporting God? Religion, News and Freedom.” Overall, I thought the forum was great and the panels and speakers certainly provoked good discussion.

I was disappointed that the first panel did not allow for a question and answer session between them and the audience. I’m sure there were plenty of people had questions they would have liked to ask the panel. For example, I thought it was really interesting professor David Domke from the University of Washington, early in his keynote address, wondered why the media did not critically analyze the increasingly religious rhetoric used by presidents since Reagan and, in particular, President George W. Bush, but instead echoed it. (And this is very true, and goes back to my explanation of how the media are biased.) Then I read one of the handouts that organizers of the event were offering. It was the “Journalist’s Creed” written by Walter Williams, founder of the Missouri School of Journalism. The handout states, “his declaration remains one of the clearest statements of the principles, values and standards of journalists.” So, what does Williams write? In the creed, which is written from a journalist’s perspective in the first person, it states that “I believe that the journalism which succeeds best–and best deserves success–fears God . . .” Here we have the professor perplexed as to why the media are complicit in the increasing religiosity of the office of President and then a creed that the sponsors call a clear statement of journalists’ “principles, values, and standards” that calls for a fearing of God. Naturally, I was wondering how much this kind of propaganda still influences contemporary journalism and its standards. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask this question.

On the whole, I think Dr. Domke provided rather compelling evidence that the media have a systemic and institutional bias.

I would also like to point out another great part of the presentation. In the second panel, Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid very explicitly pointed out that the mainstream media was a profit-maximizing institution. Earlier, he had stated it was inappropriate to blame the media for bad things, such as not covering important news topics or for sensationalism (etc.), and that the majority of the blame rests in the audience’s interpretation. Dr. Domke, being the moderator of this panel, asked Mr. Abdul-Wahid to justify his position of letting the media get off so easy. In response, Mr. Abdul-Wahid said the media cannot be blamed because they are simply doing their job as a corporation, which is to make money. (I beg to differ, but more on that later.) Mr. Abdul-Wahid is correct in that the media have forsaken their duty because of their structure as corporations and, again, this goes back to my last post on the media and their bias.

During the question-and-answer session at the end, I was able to ask whether Mr. Abdul-Wahid or anyone else on the panel genuinely thought the media as a corporation is the ideal model for the dominant institution for providing news to the citizenry of this country and being a cornerstone of democracy. I believe Julia Opoti, Mordecai Specktor, and an Iranian professor of communication (she was filling in, and I wasn’t able to grab her name) provided very intelligent responses. Mr. Abdul-Wahid’s response, however, was that it was essentially okay for the media to be biased, to not provide news, to sensationalize, etc. because the media are large corporations in the business of making money, and he saw nothing wrong with that. However, that the media are corporations does not suggest that they should be. I believe that the current institutional structure of the media, based on the propaganda model detailed in my previous post, creates a bias in the media. I don’t see how this can be justified as an appropriate state of the media. Wouldn’t it better better if the media weren’t biased? Apparently, Mr. Abdul-Wahid doesn’t think so, and that’s where I disagree with him.

Some other highlights: Mr. Specktor points out the inherent problems with the media’s sources and complacency with and subservience to authorities. Essentially, he says, the media act as recorders of authority establishments and simply regurgitate whatever they tell them to report on. This is the same argument Herman and Chomsky make in their propaganda model of the media. I was also glad to see the Iranian professor (anyone know who she was?) mention Herman and Chomsky’s work, along with others, including Ben Bagdikian and his research, which I cited in my previous post regarding the dwindling number of corporations in control of the media and the diminishing competition.

Are the media biased? Tuesday, Mar 31 2009 

This is a question that frequently pops up in discussions on the media. I believe the answer is yes, though for reasons that differ from most people’s perception of how the media are biased.

The media are a central part of democracy (which I discussed in an earlier post). The news media are a dominant source of information for most people within a democracy. Therefore, there are intrinsic ties between the media and democracy. The information that the news media provide shape much of how we perceive the world, our government, political candidates, various issues, etc. One could argue they set the agenda. In a truly free and democratic society, “the quality of a democracy depends on the information [the media] provide,” argues Justin Lewis.

It is therefore important to ask what kind of views the media represent. From this, we can gather whether the media are biased.

Economist and media analyst Edward S. Herman argues that “the mainstream media represent elite interests, and they serve those elite interests in a way that can be described as carrying out a propaganda function.” This leads me to the propaganda model, laid out by Herman and Noam Chomsky in their 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent. (The phrase “manufacturing consent,” by the way, comes from Walter Lippmann, a highly esteemed journalist and democratic theorist of the twentieth century, whom I cited in my earlier post on democracy. Once you understand Lippmann’s views of democracy, you can obviously see why he saw the media as a means to control public opinion, hence the title of his 1922 book, Public Opinion–what he calls “the manufacture of consent.”) The propaganda model is a theory on how the media operate within a free market society, such as the United States. The systematic biases found in the media are explained by certain economic conditions. More on this in a bit (though, I suggest you read Herman and Chomsky’s book).

Back now to the type of views the media represent. The constant iteration we hear is that the media are too liberal–that the media are biased and slanted toward the left. However, this strained argument has very little evidence to support itself. Conversely, as Dr. Lewis (and, of course, others) argues, the media tend to represent center to right views. Leftist views are typically not entertained. And there’s a mountain of evidence to support this.

But if we frame the question within the context that “the media are liberal,” then the question becomes whether the media are too liberal. Never mind that the media aren’t liberal at all. So it is convenient for people, particularly those on the right, to operate within this context. Of course, if we ask for evidence to support this view, those who champion it tend to simply fall flat on their face trying, because the opposite tends to be true. Rationally, what they would do is look at the output of the media (and not just simple anecdotal evidence) and try to discern from that whether there’s a systematic bias in the media. But they don’t do that. On the other hand, one particularly popular way to defend this view is to look at the journalists. Take, for example, this recent post by King Banaian, an economics professor at SCSU. Since, as Dr. Banaian contends, liberals tend to go into journalism more than conservatives do, this demonstrates that the media are biased towards the left. Essentially, how journalists vote determines the type of bias in the media. The fact of the matter is that even if 90% of journalists were sympathizers for the radical revolutionist Marxist party, this would prove nothing about the bias in the media’s output.

The relevant question is whether the media are free. And by this I mean whether their institutional structure allows for free expression of opinion. That today’s journalists are primarily from one part of the business party (Democratic rather than Republican) tells us very little. Of course, it’s the “owners, the advertisers, the news shapers, or the news makers who control the manufacture of news.” Dr. Lewis compares the argument of the journalists’ voting habits to the argument that “the workers on the factory floor decide what the car industry produces.” That’s nonsense, of course.

How then do we determine media bias? To do this, we look at the institutional structure of the media. In particular, the important aspects are the ownership, the funding, and the sources. From this, we get the propaganda model. In Manufacturing Consent, it is argued, “the primary function of the mass media in the United States is to mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector.” Major decisions in our society and how it functions (production, investment, distribution, etc.) are made by relatively few giant businesses and conglomerates, which are in collusion with the government and own the media. (It’s not correct to say big business influences the media; the media are the big business.) The media are huge corporations. Take, for example, News Corp, Westinghouse or Viacom, Time Warner, or General Electric. Our dominant source of information is increasingly being controlled by fewer and fewer large multinational corporations. That is to say, competition and diversity in the media has diminished. “More channels are great, but when they’re all owned by the same people, cable doesn’t advance localism, editorial diversity and competition. And for those who believe the Internet alone will save us from this fate should realize the dominating Internet news sources are controlled by the same media giants who control radio, TV, newspapers, and cable,” say Michael Copps, FCC Chairman. Mark Miller compares this to a quote by Nazi Doctor Joseph Goebbels, who once stated, “A media system wants ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity.”

Media corporations
(For more information, see this page by the Media Reform Information Center.)

That’s ownership. What about funding? The major source of funding for the media is advertising. During the mid-nineteenth century, the commercial media did not do nearly was a well as the popular press, which reflected public interests. The way to eliminate this was through the reliance on advertising and concentration of capital. Because the media are now large corporations, they work under the same free market principles of other corporations, namely maximizing profit via competitive pressures, which subverts the importance of the news product. Under the current structure, the media sell a product (the audience) to buyers (other businesses–the advertisers). The news is secondary, which is why we have been inundated by triviality and sensationalism that proliferates throughout the news media. If the media represent views that are contrary to the business proviso, they will be marginalized.

Herman and Chomsky also criticize the media’s reliance upon government sources such as the Pentagon and other sectors of the government. The media’s necessity for a continuous flow of news, they argue, can only be satisfied by the immense resources of governmental agencies and major businesses. In this way, we can say there is a symbiotic relationship between the media and authority establishments, namely the government.

Invariably, what one finds is that the media represents corporate and elite interests (much like the two factions of the Business Party, i.e. the Democrats and Republicans). They are, after all, products of large corporations. In this respect, one finds it very difficult to find, for example, principled opposition to the Iraq War or the unpopular Wall Street bailout. The media are biased by their very institutional structures that serve to propagate and disseminate corporatist interests.