The formula for American media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simple. Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence.
The costs of new high-tech products -- and related offerings such as online service, broadband connections, cable television and satellite TV -- all add up. Americans are indebted to new media technologies -- but also, increasingly, in debt.
Eager to oust Slobodan Milosevic from power, the U.S. government has funneled millions of dollars to media projects in Yugoslavia. What if other nations tried to help level the playing field for candidates here in the U.S.? Ralph Nader could use a ten million dollar cash infusion...
At the National Association of Broadcasters convention in late September, I look forward to being among those who will speak at nearby independent forums -- and will protest in the streets of San Francisco to confront the dire centralization of media ownership.
After many months of controversy over her anti-gay statements to millions of radio listeners, Dr. Laura ascended the airwaves to an even higher and mightier pulpit. Much to the chagrin of gay-rights supporters, her crusade has reached televisionland.
The lobbying goals of media corporations extend into areas that might surprise you. According to the Center for Public Integrity, "Federal Communications Commission employees were taken on 1,460 all-expenses-paid trips sponsored by media corporations and associations since 1995, costing a total of $1.5 million."
It's always dangerous when politicians claim to be doing God's will. So, as the novelty fades from Al Gore's selection of Joseph Lieberman, journalists should ask some probing questions about the ticket's conspicuous piety.
Once again, it's the season of the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Both events have been underwritten by generous corporate patrons; both cities are notorious for police misconduct. Hospitality and brutality -- the contrasts could hardly be more extreme.
Big-name journalists are fond of rosy windows on the world. Overall, the powerful politicians they cover have similar vantage points. And when large numbers of them get together, the upbeat -- and facile -- rhetoric is thick.
George Orwell has been dead for half a century, but Orwellian language lives on. Instead of scrutinizing the facile rhetoric of U.S. politics, reporters are inclined to solemnly relay it, while adding some of their own.
"In recent years, several dozen companies have bought major-league naming rights. Teams now play in Bank One Ballpark (Phoenix), Network Associates Coliseum (Oakland) and Continental Airlines Arena (New Jersey). But a public-interest group is urging sportswriters to resist a free-enterprise wave of the future."
"There's a slick new term surfing its way into the mass media. 'E-government.' Many citizens would be glad to see the Internet streamline their dealings with federal agencies. But we're now hearing claims that go way beyond matters of efficiency -- to conflate convenience and democracy."
"George W. Bush and Al Gore are among the most boring political leaders in the country. And that's saying something. But every four years, when summer begins, the national media curtain rises on an overheated stage of presidential politics. The political show must go on -- no matter how phony it may be."
The virtual Ten Commandments of Dot-Comity are now widespread: You shall not take the name of the Lord your Market in vain ... You shall not fail to make a killing ... Remember the stock exchange and keep it holy ...
After the Love Bug virus struck millions of computers, many news outlets attributed the magnitude of the damage to "software monoculture" -- too many people relying on the same exact programs. But what about media monoculture?
In his lifetime, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon became a media pariah because of his vocal and unflagging opposition to the Vietnam war. In the quarter-century since his death, political reporters have rarely mentioned his name. But a vivid new documentary, "The Last Angry Man," will allow viewers to see and hear for themselves the extraordinary efforts and intrepid spirit of Wayne Morse.
Solomon writes: "With few exceptions, liberals in the mass media -- and in Congress -- are comfortable with the existing economic order. And they refuse to challenge a status quo that means dire neglect for millions of Americans."
Solomon writes: "Renowned baseball players took the field recently for another All-Star game. It's a major-league spectacle that happens with much fanfare every summer. But what would a team of media All-Stars look like?"
Solomon writes, "When we see news about Indonesia -- the fourth most populous nation in the world -- the focus is usually on economic trends and prospects for foreign investors. Those routine stories are provided by American journalists who worry about paying their bills and advancing their careers, not going to prison. Indonesia's government cares a great deal about its image in the U.S. press. If the coverage were more thorough here, pressure would increase for an end to Indonesia's political imprisonments, killings and torture."
Solomon writes, "In a media world where the preposterous has become routine, it's hard to be shocked anymore. But I hope you're sitting down. A major religious organization has decided to give its "Humanitarian of the Year" award to ... Rupert Murdoch. What's next? Prizes to Jenny Jones and Howard Stern for quality journalism? A posthumous award to Marshall Herff Applewhite for affirmation of life?"
There is a lot of hype lately on how cyberspace will revolutionize communication and provide a free flow of information and opinion. However, Norman Solomon writes, such claims have always been made of new gizmos, but the emerging reality is something else. "It's easy to be mesmerized by a techno-fix that seems to offer a way of cutting through knotty social problems. To substitute for figuring out how to create systems of communication that are genuinely democratic, believers in the techno-fix assume that a brilliant new technology can dissolve the bottlenecks. It never works. From radio to television to modem, each new gizmo has arrived with inspiring potential -- undermined by extreme disparities in people's access to economic resources and political clout."
Normon Solomon writes, "Now that Ted Koppel has completed his publicity blitz for a new book about Nightline, the famed ABC anchor is more of a media idol than ever. On one network after another, interviewers kept treating Koppel as journalistic royalty. But this media prince is not what he's cracked up to be. If Koppel seems like an ideal reporter, that's because we confuse style with substance. He gravitates to power brokers -- and for independent journalism, that's a fatal attraction. As Newsweek observed a decade ago, Koppel 'makes viewers feel that he is challenging the powers that be on their behalf' -- yet he 'is in fact the quintessential establishment journalist.'"
"We revere Mark Twain as a superb storyteller who generates waves of laughter with powerful undertows of biting satire. The renowned author's fiery political statements are a very different matter. They reached many people in his lifetime -- but not in ours."
"Listen up, future leaders of America. If you want to develop the necessary skills for promoting a war agenda in our country's news media, recent events are instructive. Going to war is not simply a matter of ordering soldiers to fire missiles and drop bombs. There's a lot more involved. The public must be induced to accept and even cheer the bloodshed. That requires some careful preparation."
Solomon writes: "Whatever the truth turns out to be about the explosive new scandal rocking the White House -- whether or not it proves to be the undoing of President Clinton -- the news media are sure to moralize about the arrogance of power. But some introspection would be fitting."
Solomon writes, "Vows to put computers in every classroom don't deal with a key question: Are we fixating on the latest gizmos while failing to scrutinize content? The widespread obsessions with technical glitz could amount to perpetual distractions that mesmerize children and adults alike."
Solomon writes, "During the 1996 campaign, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole have reinforced the prevailing media judgment: Human rights aren't very important. Around the globe, it's no secret that Washington is more concerned about economic markets and geopolitical clout than human rights. Many regimes enjoy good relations with the White House while using brutal repression to crush dissent. What's lacking is vigilant -- and independent -- media attention to human rights all over the world."
Today, most U.S. media are quiet about another country where the right to organize unions has virtually disappeared. It's a country where workers are often spied on, threatened or fired when they try to launch unions. It's a country known as the United States of America -- or perhaps that should be "the Union-busting States of America."
Bill Clinton's romp to victory in the New Hampshire primary was a marvelous sight for his supporters. Relieved that the president is running unopposed for renomination, prominent Democrats can hardly contain their joy. Meanwhile, the media spin is very upbeat about Clinton's smooth path to the top of his party's 1996 ticket. Reporters and pundits rarely mention an important downside: The Democratic Party has avoided genuine debate within its ranks.