May 1 1997

How to be Stupid

The Lessons of Channel One

News, of course, is not the point of Channel One-any more than it’s the point of those commercial TV newscasts that many of us watch at home night after night. If the basic aim of all such TV shows were really journalistic, it might be possible to glean from them some simple daily understanding of the world; but what we get these days from TV news is loud, speedy filler, which-with minimal background, and no context-leaves the mind with nothing but some evanescent numbers, a helpless sense of general disaster, a heavy mental echo of official reassurance and (not too […]

May 1 1997

Corporate Enemies, Corporate Friends

Did food industry 'put out the money' for attacks on nutritionists?

At a conference of PR flacks last November, Jeff Prince, formerly of the National Restaurant Association and now a private consultant, identified the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as the food industry’s Public Enemy No. 1. The Center warns consumers about the risks of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, which kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year, as many as die from cigarette smoking. This message has earned the Center the wrath of industry, which portrays CSPI as a puritanical “food police” determined to take the fun out of eating. Prince urged CSPI’s foes to […]

May 1 1997

News for a Captive Audience

An Analysis of Channel One

Since Channel One was introduced into high school and middle school classrooms in 1990, the commercial television program has been the focus of ongoing controversy. Purchased in 1994 for $250 million by K-III Communications, Channel One beams 12 minutes of programming (including two minutes of ads) into more than 12,000 schools in the United States, with an audience of more than 8 million students. Participating schools receive the daily program along with 19-inch television sets for each classroom, two VCRs and a satellite link. Channel One sends the news via satellite early in the morning, where it is taped by […]

May 1 1997

Reforming Welfare Coverage

Five Issues Reporters Need to Address

When Extra! reviewed welfare coverage in 1995 (5-6/95), it was easy to pick out the popular media themes. What passed for debate sounded more like a chorus–exaggerating the burden of welfare programs on the federal budget and scapegoating the poor, the black, the foreign, the female and the young. Relatively powerless groups became the targets of politicians and most of the press, while their advocates were routinely excluded from or belittled in the discussion. Long-time critics of “welfare” from the women’s movement, trade unions and the left were sidelined. As Extra! demonstrated a year and a half later (11-12/96), this […]