On the Central Political Role of Modern Media

In a wide-ranging ZNet interview on both the history and future of U.S. media, Robert McChesney (8/11/09) gets to the kernel of reform activism:

The media is one of the key areas in society where power is exercised, reinforced and contested. It is hard to imagine a successful left political project that does not have a media platform. The media was not a major political issue for earlier generations of the left. In the 19th century, a very different media system was in place. 19th century socialists wouldn’t be talking much about the need to criticize the New York Herald Tribune because they weren’t organizing people who read the New York Herald Tribune. It was much easier and more common for the left to have its own media. The workers had worker papers. They weren’t consuming mass-produced commercial media products. But this started changing in the first half of the 20th century. Capital accumulation colonized much more of popular culture and communications. Capitalism became the dominant mode of producing and distributing information in society. The media has since become central to politics; it is a central concern for anyone that wants to understand politics and intervene politically.

Which leaves all concerned with a serious “challenge”: “to understand, use and struggle to change the existing media.” Listen to some ideas on how to meet that challenge on the FAIR radio program CounterSpin: “Jim Naureckas on the Future of Journalism” (7/10/09).