News Incorporated: Corporate Media Ownership and its Threat to Democracy

Overview

The current climate of American journalism is fraught with incestuous relations between government and a handful of Fortune 500 corporations that own and operate news organizations. From News Corporation’s Fox News, General Electric’s NBC, Viacom’s CBS, Disney’s ABC, and Time Warner’s CNN to Clear Channel’s massive radio empire, what the mainstream media present as "news" has become largely a "paid political announcement" born of favor trading, conflict of interest, and self-serving, bottom-line corporate logic. ...

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Overview

The current climate of American journalism is fraught with incestuous relations between government and a handful of Fortune 500 corporations that own and operate news organizations. From News Corporation’s Fox News, General Electric’s NBC, Viacom’s CBS, Disney’s ABC, and Time Warner’s CNN to Clear Channel’s massive radio empire, what the mainstream media present as "news" has become largely a "paid political announcement" born of favor trading, conflict of interest, and self-serving, bottom-line corporate logic. As a result of such accommodationism, American viewers receive a homogenized, censored version of reality and the watchdog of American democracy, the press, has become a docile instrument of governmental authority and big money.

In this timely collection of essays by more than a dozen of the nation's top media scholars, critics, and journalists, including a preface by Arthur Kent, the present media crisis is carefully exposed. From coverage of the war in Iraq to national security, this book details the manner in which journalists have walked in lockstep to the self-serving quid pro quo of government and corporate media giants. Among the many topics broached are methods of media manipulation and propagandizing; the claim that the media is liberal; media ownership, rules, and deregulation; alternative media; the threat to free access to information on the Internet; the effects of media consolidation on actors, producers, agents, managers, and lawyers in the film industry; and the standardization of music and reduction of localism in radio. The contributors include media critic Danny Schechter, political analyst Michael Parenti, Mother Jones publisher Jay Harris, the ACLU’s Barry Steinhardt and Jay Stanley, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, and many other distinguished commentators.

Not only does this book expose the current crisis, it proposes solutions to it, pinpointing legal and constitutional challenges, reviewing recent FCC rulings and congressional legislation, and proposing structural changes in the ways diverse media currently operate. For any American who prizes democracy, this book is a clear wake-up call to look more carefully behind the superficial slogans of a free America and the stars and stripes strategically displayed on the TV monitor.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The last decade has seen a blossoming of Internet and cable television news sources-and, say many critics, a deterioration in the quality of reporting. The problem, according to Cohen and his left-leaning colleagues, is the ever-increasing concentration of media outlets owned by only a "handful" of massive corporations. In 1983, for example, a seasoned media insider estimated that 50 companies controlled 90% of America's news diet; by 2000, that number had plummeted to six. While Republicans and Democrats both take issue with what they consider a bias in news coverage, the core of this book's argument is that the system is too top-heavy, and that the corporations that own the news organizations wield too much control. For example, there's the case in which a Fox TV executive defends the spiking of an expos on agricultural product provider Monsanto with the assertion that "we paid $3 billion for these stations; we'll decide what the news is." The contributors to this fine and serious-minded volume (which include MSNBC columnist Eric Alterman, Mother Jones publisher Jay Harris and former FCC chair Reed F. Hundt) exhaustively diagnose the problem of corporate-owned media from a variety of angles and, to their credit, don't hold back on addressing the obvious dilemma: what to do about it? (They suggest everything from disseminating news through Web logs to writing congresspersons to put pressure on the FCC.) Photos. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591022329
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 2/25/2005
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Elliot D. Cohen (Fort Pierce, FL), Ph.D., Brown University, is chair of the Department of Humanities and professor of philosophy at Indian River Community College, editor of the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and the International Journal of Philosophical Practice, the director of the Institute of Critical Thinking, and the author or editor of nine books. He is also a founder and executive director of the American Society for Philosophy, Counseling, and Psychotherapy as well as an ethics consultant for several health care facilities.

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
Editor's introduction : corporate media's betrayal of America 17
1 Beyond the new American censorship 35
2 Big money, self-censorship, and corporate media 53
3 To be our own governors : the independent press and the battle for "popular information" 79
4 Monopoly media manipulation 97
5 The myth of the liberal media 109
6 Understanding media ethics is important, changing media is essential 125
7 What would Cronkite do? : journalistic virtue, corporate news, and the demise of the fourth estate 141
8 Building a progressive, democratic media and communications sector 157
9 How can government constitutionally compel mass media to provide news, and how can citizens make it happen? 185
10 The hijacking of Hollywood : corporate control of the creative community 213
11 Protecting the future of the free Internet 237
12 From broadcast to broadband : on air with the Internet 255
13 Clear Channel and the public airwaves 267
14 A radio station in your hands is worth 500 channels of mush! : the role of community radio in the struggle against corporate domination of media 287
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