May 1 1996

We Feel Your Pain

Media Tell Workers to Learn to Live With Layoffs

“As corporate America looks beyond downsizing,” began an item in March 19’s Wall Street Journal, “executives search for smart ways to handle virtual offices, telecommuting and team environments.” As part of “corporate America,” corporate-owned media also appear interested in “looking beyond” mass layoffs–but certainly not in challenging them. It’s true that coverage like the New York Times‘ special series, “The Downsizing of America” (3/3-9/96), was a welcome exception to the major media’s neglect of the crisis of widespread job loss and insecurity. But although those reports conveyed some of the painful effects of corporate layoffs on families and communities, they […]

May 1 1996

Net Loss:

Corporate Moves Could Doom the Internet's Participatory Culture

The change is subtle, and misleading by design, but the Internet is in full transition from a participatory interactive communications network to a broadcast medium dominated by electronic commerce. The transition is occurring under the guise of making the technically daunting Internet cheaper and easier to use. At first glance, this new promise by corporate America to liberate cyberspace from its high-tech mantle appears to be a victory for ordinary people. However, as with most new technology, there’s a hidden agenda that obscures the true cost of the deal. AT&T, MCI and other phone companies are in a race to […]

May 1 1996

It’s the Mexicans, Stupid

The Phony Populism of Pat Buchanan

Patrick Buchanan’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination presented the establishment media with a dilemma: How do you present someone as an extremist when you’ve employed him as an opinion-shaper for many years? The need for most media to label Buchanan as out of the mainstream may not stem from his well-documented record of bigotry and intolerance. After all, Buchanan had much the same record in 1992, when he contested George Bush’s presidential bid, but there were fewer descriptions of Buchanan as an “extremist” then. It wasn’t until 1996 when Buchanan made opposition to NAFTA a centerpiece of his campaign, […]

May 1 1996

The Think Tank Spectrum

For the Media, Some Thinkers Are More Equal Than Others

The media are liberal, CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg claimed in a recent column in the Wall Street Journal (2/13/96). His proof? CBS reporters are allegedly instructed to identify the Heritage Foundation as “conservative”–but in a story on the flat tax, his CBS colleague Engberg failed to label another Washington-based think tank, the Brookings Institution, as “liberal.” While Goldberg only provided this one anecdotal example, he could have found more cases. In January 1996, according to a search of the Nexis database, major papers cited Brookings 185 times; only once was the think tank referred to as “liberal.” (The vast majority […]

May 1 1996

How Alternative Is It?

Feminist Media Activists Take Aim at the Progressive Press

Around 300 journalists, activists and critics crowded into a room at the Media & Democracy Congress in San Francisco on March 1 to discuss the coverage of issues related to gender. For once, alternative and progressive media came under as much fire as the commercial mainstream. Nation columnist Katha Pollitt recalled that in 1995 she had written a column decrying the absence of African-Americans in the progressive press. “I could have written almost the same article about the issue of gender,” she told the Congress. “If you look at the mastheads of most left-wing magazines, they are dominated by men…white […]