Nov 1 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; […]

Oct 23 2009

Kristin Thomson on the Performance Rights Act; Jennifer McLennan on Open Access


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The Performance Rights Act would require broadcasters to pay royalties that would be split between recording artists and record companies. The bill has just passed through house and senate committees, and will presumably be debated and voted on. The legislation, naturally faces strong opposition from the broadcasting industry, who say it will hurt stations and artists alike. Kristin Thomson, of the Future of Music Coalition, a group that supports the bill, will join us to discuss the Performance Rights Act. Also on the show: October 19th marked the beginning of the first international Open […]

Jul 10 2009

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


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 1 2009

Proposed Cure: More of the Disease

Some voices in the corporate media have pushed for government intervention to relax ownership restrictions in order to allow for the creation of even bigger media conglomerates—which seems a bit like a hangover victim’s thirst for the hair of the dog that bit them. New York Times reporter Carr (5/9/09) confessed that while as a younger reporter he viewed media consolidation as “the dark overlords of the newspaper industry” meeting to “decid[e] how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time,” at this moment of crisis, “I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.” […]

Jul 1 2009

Who Pays for Journalism in the Post-Print Era?

Crumbling corporate finance and the future of news

OWS first amendment savetheinternet

Newspapers are faltering. Their traditional economic base is continually being eroded by the Internet, and this trend will only increase with time. The lot of print newspapers is unlikely to improve, and the sooner journalists and those who care about the press accept this foregone conclusion, the better. Because there is a critical question confronting journalism: When the publishing giants fall, who will pay the reporters? Text-based journalism needs a new business model, one that supports public interest stories and maintains financial stability, without relying overwhelmingly on large-scale corporate advertising contracts. As recently noted by Nation columnist Eric Alterman (5/11/09): […]

Jun 1 2009

Fearing the Future

The corporate press makes the case for being saved

SIDEBARS: Proposed Cure: More of the Disease and Did Google Kill the Newspaper Star? Corporate media are in a state of severe business shock, it seems—layoffs at newspapers large and small, due to advertising revenue drying up and readers ceasing to pay for a printed copy of a newspaper that they can usually read for free online. The state of the press has generated an enormous amount of attention in the press itself, with journalists and pundits offering any number of plans to “save” dying newspapers. Congressional hearings on the state of the media suggest that lawmakers are worried about […]

May 8 2009

Bart Laws on swine flu, Kristin Thomson on radio diversity study


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: If you didn’t panic over the swine flu, then maybe you weren’t watching much TV, where scary charts and maps documented the spread of a worldwide pandemic. At least that’s what we were hearing last week. With the media hysteria subsiding, the question isn’t so much did the press overreact, but how much. But how do we assess the role of public health officials, who perhaps by nature are supposed to worry about these kinds of things? And is there a different conversation about global public health that we should be having? We’ll speak […]

Apr 1 2009

Unsafe as Milk

How journalism failed to protect babies against BPA

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/sunsurfr

When researchers identified the common plastic additive Bisphenol-A (BPA) as being potentially harmful, CBS ran a segment on the morning news. The anchor introduced the story, “A new study finds that a chemical found in plastic baby bottles and other plastic containers and wraps could be dangerous to your health.” This may seem like an unsurprising opener, given the relatively heavy coverage BPA received in the past year. What’s remarkable about this story, though, is that it aired on May 12, 1999. Almost a decade ago, both CBS and ABC reported on a Consumers Union study (5/99) that found the […]