Mar 1 2005

Fear & Favor 2004 — The Fifth Annual Report

How power shapes the news

“We can get five reporters a month to do news stories about your product. If you want to be interviewed by 10 to 20 reporters per month, we can arrange that, too. . . . Media Relations, Inc. has placed tens of thousands of news stories on behalf of more than 1,000 clients.—Media Relations, Inc. solicitation The PR agency’s promises are a stark reminder that the news is, in many ways, a collision of different interests. The traditional tenets of journalism are challenged and undermined by other factors: Advertisers demand “friendly copy,” while other commercial interests work to place news […]

May 1 2004

Fear & Favor 2003 — The Fourth Annual Report

More examples of media's vulnerability to power

Introduction It’s no secret that advertisers, media owners and powerful political figures pressure journalists to ignore critical stories or sing the praises of a corporate pet project. With diminished journalistic resources available due to corporate cost-cutting in the media industry, news outlets often put commercial or political priorities ahead of journalistic ones. Each year, FAIR puts together a collection of specific incidents of interference, in order to provide real-world illustration of the pressures on working journalists, and to encourage the exposure of such efforts to muzzle journalists and shape media coverage. This report is nowhere near an exhaustive recounting of […]

Mar 18 2004

Fear and Favor at the PBS NewsHour

(NOTE: Please read the update to this alert.) Journalist Christian Parenti was invited to talk about Iraq on the March 2 broadcast of PBS‘s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. But Parenti’s criticism of the reconstruction contracts granted to corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel apparently crossed a line for the program’s host. According to a report by Cynthia Cotts in the Village Voice newspaper (3/17/04), Lehrer objected to comments Parenti made in response to a question about whether bombings in Iraq would “make the American job harder on the ground in Iraq”: PARENTI: I would think so. I would think that we […]

Mar 1 2003

Fear & Favor 2002 — The Third Annual Report

How power shapes the news

Introduction It would be hard to overstate the impact of news media in shaping public opinion, on issues from healthcare to plans for war. With media such an influence on us, it’s crucial that we understand who’s influencing media. FAIR’s annual Fear & Favor report is an attempt to chart some of the pressures that push and pull mainstream journalists away from their fundamental work of telling the truth and letting the chips fall where they may. These include pressures from advertisers, well aware of their key role in fueling the media business; from media owners, who frequently use their […]

Mar 1 2002

Fear & Favor 2001 — The Second Annual Report

How Power Shapes the News

Introduction Fear & Favor is FAIR’s annual review of incidents that reflect the range of pressures on reporters to use something other than journalistic judgment in deciding what goes in the news and what gets left out. The year 2001 presented special challenges in this regard. The horrific September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the ensuing declaration by the Bush administration of an open-ended “war on terrorism,” meant incredible pressure on the press corps to present U.S. actions and policy in the best light; incidents of outright censorship occurred, and even more self-censorship, as […]

May 1 2001

Fear & Favor 2000 — The First Annual Report

How Power Shapes the News

Introduction Surveys of working journalists have found that they experience pressure from powerful interests, outside and inside the news business, to push some stories and ignore others, and to shape or slant news content. The sources of pressure include the government, which enlists media to support its actions and policies; corporate advertisers who may demand favorable treatment for their industries and products; and media owners themselves, who can use their outlets to support their increasingly various business and political interests. In a 2000 Pew Center for the People & the Press poll of 287 reporters, editors and news executives, about […]