Nov
01
2009

Public Media and the Decommodification of News

News behind pay walls is no help to democracy

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/aranarth

There have been various proposals to “save journalism” from the crisis brought on by digitalization. But by and large these ideas have less to do with meeting the information needs of a democratic society than with preserving the profit potential of existing media outlets. Take the various suggestions as to how to get news outlets to stop giving away their content for free. Among others, Walter Isaacson (formerly of Time), Steven Brill (formerly of Content) and Rupert Murdoch (formerly of Australia) have all offered suggestions for how newspapers can be saved by putting their content behind pay walls (Time, 2/5/09; […]

Sep
01
2009

Journalistic Reputations for Sale

Pay to play at the Post...and elsewhere

Katherine Weymouth--Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

If you had any doubt that the elite Washington press corps is too close to the political and corporate elites they are supposed to be scrutinizing, a recent scheme cooked up by the Washington Post might close the case. The plan, as revealed by the website Politico (7/2/09), would have seen Post publisher Katharine Weymouth hosting a dozen off-the-record “salons” at her Washington home, bringing together lobbyists, politicians and some of the paper’s own reporters and editors. Each event would be “underwritten” to the tune of $25,000 by major players in select policy areas; the first scheduled salon, for example, […]

Aug
14
2009

Trudy Lieberman on healthcare reform, Gary Schwitzer on health news study

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Healthcare reform is still the top political story of the moment. But the coverage seems to have gone from bad to worse, with noisy town hall meetings standing in the way of any coherent discussion of the dysfunctional healthcare system in this country, and what can be done about it. Trudy Lieberman has been watching healthcare coverage for Columbia Journalism Review; she'll join us to talk about what she's found. Also on CounterSpin today: An ongoing review of network morning news coverage of health issues finds a dangerous pattern of coverage providing faulty information, […]

Jul
10
2009

Sasha Abramsky on 'Breadline USA', Jim Naureckas on the future of journalism

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Some 25 million Americans, nearly 9 percent of the population--rely on food pantries. But with rare exceptions, and despite its devastating impact, big media just don't seem to find a reportable story in chronic hunger. A new book hopes to make the issue more visible, by actually talking to people. It's called Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It; we'll speak with author Sasha Abramsky. Also on the show: Hard times and decreasing ad revenues have prompted a spate of seminars and discussion about the future of journalism […]

Jul
01
2009

Infomercials Amok

Paid programming a win-win-lose for owners, marketers and the public

When critics talk about “saving journalism,” the image one gets is of ink-stained toilers bringing important truths into the light of public scrutiny. But this bears little relation to most people’s experience of news media. For one thing, most people get their news from TV, not generally the poster child for journalism worth saving. Certainly, television has brought us many fine news and public affairs programs. But if we are trying to assess the kind of job TV does informing the public, it seems silly not to acknowledge that informing the public is not mainly what it does. What it […]

Feb
20
2009

WNET Responds on Worldfocus' Conflict of Interest

Public broadcaster WNET has responded to FAIR's Action Alert (2/10/09), "Worldfocus, Brought to You by Economic Fearmongers." WNET CEO and director Neal Shapiro wrote (2/12/09) in an email to FAIR activists, "While the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has a well-known interest in the issues of Social Security and health care, FAIR's suggestion that 'Worldfocus' will be producing reports promoting the foundation's point of view is false." Shapiro added, "The foundation's interest in 'Worldfocus' stems from the fact that the newscast has been looking at these critical issues in the context of its in-depth world coverage." Shapiro's response seems to miss […]

Feb
10
2009

Worldfocus, Brought to You by Economic Fearmongers

Public TV show takes funding from anti-Social Security foundation

The public television show Worldfocus recently received a $1 million dollar grant to produce "reports examining how other countries have dealt with the challenges facing the United States, like healthcare and Social Security" (New York Times, 2/3/09) from a foundation with a track record of misinformation and fearmongering on these very issues. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation and its founder, Pete Peterson, have long played a critical role (Extra!, 3-4/97) in promoting the myths that Social Security is on the verge of bankruptcy (Extra!, 7-8/95, 1-2/05) and that universal healthcare is unaffordable. The foundation was a major backer of IOUSA, […]

Mar
01
2008

Fear & Favor 2007

How power still shapes the news

U.S. journalists seeking to fulfill the profession’s traditional goal of telling the truth and “letting the chips fall where they may” have powerful forces to contend with, starting with the corporate owners who employ them, and the corporate advertisers who fuel the enterprise, both of whom have an investment in maintaining a political conversation and climate favorable to their profitability. There are also legislators who maintain the pro-corporate policy media owners rely on to thrive, local political players with axes to grind, and well-funded PR campaigns from all corners. Each year these renew and refine their efforts to shape news […]